So I’m moving to California, and most everyone is super excited for me. It’s a big piece of the puzzle finally falling into place, and something I’ve been working towards for a long time. But after the cheers and congratulations, the big question on everybody’s mind seems to be, “But what about The Boy?” Or, for the less tactful among my acquaintances, “So are you, like, still engaged?” After all, he’s got another year of school in Rhode Island so I can’t exactly take him with me. Well this blog is supposedly about my purple house, and there’s no purple house without The Boy, so this seems like a semi-appropriate venue to discuss this.
To answer all the curious among you (chiefly my mother): yes, I am still engaged. We’re getting ready to do the long distance thing, which seems to engender a lot of skepticism.
Well that’s really nothing new and, to be frank, I don’t really care. Most people were super supportive when we announced our engagement, but there was a definitely a vocal minority singing the “You’re too young!” tune. And I guess that could have hurt my feelings, but when it comes to the health, strength, and maturity of my relationship the only opinions I value are those of The Boy and myself. Anyone who thinks we’re too young, or that long distance can’t work clearly doesn’t know either one of us very well.
That said, I know this is going to be hard. Truth be told our relationship can be a little like this:
But The Boy and I are no strangers to distance! Just two months into our relationship I left for a three month study abroad program in Moscow, Russia. Being apart for that long meant I woke up every day with a gut-wrenching feeling that something was missing inside me. I think I spent more money on phone cards than anything else during my stay in Mother Russia, but my time there was a life-changing experience that’s defined my perspective on the world, my art, and my identity ever since.
And that’s kind of how I feel about my upcoming move. It’s such an important opportunity that I’m willing to bear with a year of heartache. Being engaged means that The Boy and I are actively invested in building a life together, and the kind of life we want to share is one in which we’re both following our passions and our dreams. Right now he’s contributing to that future by going to school, getting educated and cultivating his talent and craft. And I’d be a poor partner in this relationship if I were willing to sit around waiting for him, rather than focus on my own contributions.
So that’s a rather long-winded answer to a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. But just because I’ve rationalized this whole long-distance thing doesn’t make it fun, or something to look forward to. I don’t want to be “just ok” with being apart, I want to put a positive spin on it. These days there are lots of technological aids for couples separated by distance, like these pillows (which I can’t talk about without experiencing the overwhelming urge to make fake vomiting noises), this watch (The Boy had something like this while I was in Russia), or this app (which actually seems like kind of a cool idea).
But I do think there’s something positive to be gained through this forced separation; it’s kind of like a return to that honeymoon stage at the beginning of a relationship. Without constant physical and emotional access to each other, all those annoying tendencies become endearing again. You can no longer afford to take your partner for granted, and I think it also makes for better listening because listening is kind of all you have. Now I would say that The Boy and I have an exceptionally healthy relationship of give, take, and cooperation, but being together for three years I do sometimes catch myself tuning him out, nodding along without really hearing what he’s saying, or even (I hate to admit) walking out of the room while he’s still talking. Well, no more! From the day I leave it will back to romantic letter writing, moony skype calls, and “You hang up” “No, you hang up” arguments. Well, maybe not the last one but the romantic letter writing definitely.
Top image found here. Video from How I Met Your Mother, courtesy of CBS.