This summer has consisted of my legs dangling across his as we read in the sunshine. It’s been sleepovers in sweaty sheets. It’s been picking lettuce and swiss chard from his dad’s garden and cooking dinner together. It’s been taking trains, planes, cars, bikes. It’s been tagging each other in “Fuckjerry” Instagram posts, sending each other articles about the election, discussing our independent dreams for the future.
We’ve been dating for two years now. We’re both 21 years old. We went to college together. Everything has worked out pretty magically— we fell into each other’s lives easily and were friends before we were anything more. The only issue is, he graduated this past May and I have one more year of college left. I’m not sure what this means for our future.
My mind flips in circles trying to process the fact that we won’t be together next year.
Well, maybe we could do long-distance next year even though every fiber of my being is logically opposed to that. I’ll be home for breaks. He’ll visit? It’s only a year…
But then there’s the question of the year after that. Where will I go? What job will I get? What if I want to travel? Would he come? What if he already has a job? What if there’s a pretty, graceful girl with a tiny cute nose at his next job that leaves notes on his desk? What if I don’t get a job? What if he moves? What if I move?
I told myself I would never base any of my life decisions on what a boy is doing.
I judged anyone else who was doing that. I always scoffed at anyone who told me they were in a long distance relationship. I said, behind their backs, “That’ll never last.”
But for the first time in my life, I hope that I’m wrong.
I want it to work. I want this comfortable feeling to last. I want to continue watching documentaries with him. I hope we’ll never stop sending each other links to cool-looking, strange-seeming Air Bnb’s. I want him to always call me “shmoop” and I hope he never stops trying to get me to rap with him in the car.
Yet, I know we’re at a defining crossroads.
With the end of August, comes the reality of our situation: that I will be getting on a plane to go back to school in California and he will remain on the East Coast. We’ll try to text everyday but it will feel unfulfilling. We will both have drunk nights where we lean in a little too much talking to another person. We will reunite over thanksgiving and have a fight about who’s been putting in more effort. We will begin to harbor resentment. He’ll get offered a job somewhere I have no intention of moving. I’ll listen to pop songs while staring out a rainy car window that convince myself I’m better on my own. It’ll end gradually and it will be as if we never got to know each other’s families or massaged each other’s eyes while hungover.
Or maybe not. Maybe we’ll stay together and start a family and a life.
But for now as July comes to a close, it feels as if we are suspended in air. We are existing in the anxious moment of decision. We are being crushed under the weight of pre-thunderstorm humidity. This summer of 21 has been me thrashing under the possibilities as I try and fall asleep at night.
For now, we’ll just continue to hold clammy hands without thinking of the drop-off ahead.