Brutally crisp air smacks me in the face as I get out of the car at Union Station in downtown Chicago. The weekend was fast and filled to the brim with family, fun, and sadly, a funeral for my great grandmother. My mom had flown in from Alaska – my home state – and to be quite honest with you, I probably would not have made the three hour bus ride up to Chicago from Indianapolis if she had not been there. I always miss my Alaska family terribly. I’m never home sick, but I have days where I miss the hell out of my brother, sister, mom, and even my stubborn ass father from time to time. As I hug mom and my favorite aunt goodbye in front of the quiet bus station, I feel a mix of emotions. I’m sad because I’m not sure when I will see the both of them again. I’m happy that I had the chance, and time, to get to see my Chicago relatives; beyond elated to be there with them during this tough time. I smile as I reflect on the amazing time I had with family I’d just met, and those of whom I hadn’t seen for at least ten years. Watching my Alaska family drive down the hollow Chicago street, I finish my emotional equation and become warm with the thought of returning to my husband. When I’m down – and feeling like some sad, soulful Adele song – he’s usually the burst of light I need on my dark, rainy days. He’s the answer to most of my emo-life equations, and I needed hug; anything to prolong the feeling of my mom and aunt’s arms around me before today was gone. Pocketing my glasses, I replace them with my prescription Ray Ban shades… a single tear making contact with the inside of the dark lens just as my bus to Indianapolis arrived.
Booze stripped our judgment and wisdom while we attempted to get our respective points across to one another. We both consumed high percentages of alcohol that night, and probably shouldn’t have driven home. “Is he serious? I know I’m making perfect sense, right? Who gives a shit; he’s being a sensitive queen right now.” Part of me wished I could hear what was going through his head in between the audible explosions we were triggering. Thank goodness for roommates that’ll take you on a walk down the street at however-many-hours-past-midnight to make you vent; expelling any venomous thought that remained. On this particular night – filled with dark, inquiring clouds – there would be no understanding, reasoning, or love. Was this part of love? Blinded by the event of our first big fight, the only thing we felt that night was the air tunnel our parted bodies forged beneath cold, wrinkled sheets.
Actions speak louder than words. I found this to be the case when it came to my experience with a long distance relationship. Bloomington and Indianapolis are an hour apart, and by the end of our first date back in Indianapolis, I knew I had to see him again; let’s call him S. Some reservation set in because I had never been in a relationship before, and was not confident with my feelings about dating a guy that was an hour up the interstate. Long distance is relative to those in a relationship where the majority of time spent is apart; i.e. different towns, hours of driving, or in some cases plane rides away. Luckily for S and I, we only had an hour separating us, and spent most weekends together. I considered this hour to be long distance, and a challenge over the nearly twenty-two months we were in different zip codes.
Traveling one hour may not seem like much to most, but there were factors in my life at the time that made the distance between us – 48 miles to be exact – seem greater. I did not have a car, and I didn’t want him to feel like he had to make the drive for me. Was I worth it to him? What if he found someone in Indy that he could spend every night with… someone he didn’t have to pick up from the airport because they had to take a shuttle from another town… Insecurity would eat me alive when we were apart. The state of my life – a struggling student who was barely making ends meet working two retail jobs – had me intimidated by the success he had already reached. This self-induced inadequacy lingered in the early stages of our courtship, and would visit frequently while we remained in two different locales.
Adding to my insecurities was the presence of social media, and its ability to monitor activity. Grindr is a popular hook-up app that displays guys based on GPS location, and allows you to chat and trade pictures. I set S’s profile as a favorite early on, and as a result I could now see when he was online; even when he was back in Indy. This would drive me insane because we had talked about the end of our bachelor lifestyles, and being serious about building a future. Seeing the little green dot in the corner of his Grindr profile picture, after saying goodnight, would cause my blood to boil. I was more curious than I was jealous, yet I never brought any of this up to him. Something anchored me inside, and told me to ride the wave; see where this thing goes.
Distance has the power to breathe life into any piece of negativity your mind will allow. Each month I would grow more confident with myself; realizing we were both making sacrifices to make this relationship work. There was strength found in the many grey areas of mixed thoughts and emotions that clouded my mind Monday through Friday. The biggest lesson from my experience with a long distance relationship was to not over-think little things, and to take one day at a time. All the dark emotions in the beginning were a result of the new (love) feelings I was experiencing, and trying to apply these updates to oneself absolutely cannot be done over any short period. It’s a scary thing to let the universe bring what is meant onto oneself. Had I not yielded to this – let go and let love – realization, where would I be? Where would he be?