You probably think this is going to be a sappy post about loving someone and having to be away from them and how “distance makes the heart grow fonder” and a bunch of other romanticized ideas that you’d deny but secretly buy into.
Well, you’re wrong. Kind of.
This is about being away from the ones you love (yes, plural). This is about spending 20 years making relationships and creating bonds only to move halfway across the country, and then – eventually – continuing on to reach the opposite side altogether. This is about missing birthdays and holidays and firsts and lasts and everything in-between.
This is about trying to discover who you are while you continually miss everyone who knew who you were.
It’s not all bad, though. It’s just different. Harder. A learning curve.
My family’s voices accompany me on traffic-filled drives. My nephew tells me stories and sings songs to me through various applications. My face appears on screens which then get passed around large dinner tables so I can try and catch up with everyone in brief seconds. My friends post pictures and write small sentences that I eat up in order to feel some sort of longstanding connection.
I try to make myself as present as possible in the lives of those I miss, while constantly acknowledging the shadow of truth that there’s always some sort of disconnect – that I’m never really there.
A comforting text will never beat a hug. An emoji can’t replace hearing someone’s laughter.
But I do what I can – I visit, I inquire, I listen, and I experience as much as possible. I’m so proud of the people my friends have become, and I constantly feel blessed to have the family and friendships that I do. I’m a sucker for surrounding myself with love and I feel like while I’m away from my roots, I’ve won the lottery in friendships in what could be deemed a lonely state.
So yes, while I can acknowledge a piece of me always lives on the East Coast, I can also be confident that I am where I’m supposed to be and that my distant, but strong, base of support is still very present in my life.
A long distance relationship is still a relationship, and I won’t take a single one for granted.