I always thought I’d be absolutely wonderful at a long distance relationship. Having been on my own for so long, I was convinced that my independent nature and propensity for solitude and low maintenance sensibility was the recipe for finding my true love with thousands of miles between us. I was created for it. I watched friends and family experience the long distance love connections. Some handled them well and others struggled day to day, but I was sure if given the chance, I would be brilliant at it.
I have since learned I’m occasionally a complete idiot.
I’ve read articles and listened to stories from people who have loved fiercely with a piece of their heart on the other side of the country, but nothing in the world can prepare you for watching the man you love get into his car while you stand on the snowy sidewalk of the airport, knowing that it will be weeks before you get to hold him in your arms again. Empty. That’s what I felt. My hands and arms and lips and heart and soul felt empty and drained and cold; everything empty. All except my eyes; they held cold tears.
And I don’t always feel that way, and I don’t think he does either, because during the weeks in between he still manages to touch my heart and shower me with love and affection in ways that I can only thank God for. I live for the texts and the phone calls. For the days when we get to spend hours on the phone reading and laughing and growing closer even as the distance keeps as beyond arms length. He’s the most patient and passionate and loving creature and I’m blessed to know him.
But this isn’t the love story I would have picked for myself. I wouldn’t have chosen it for him either, because I know the pain that comes with it and a piece of my heart aches for him. And yet it is the romance I am living, each day and night and endless week. It is the story I wake up to every morning, along with a thoughtful text from him. It is the story I’m becoming better at telling and living, each new chapter a blessing because it means more time spent with him. It is the story I’ve been given after years of being alone and I know that is a gift. Perhaps I could have written a more convenient and easy story for myself. Something filled with romantic interludes every weekend and adorable date nights every week and day trips and traditions and favorite restaurants and movie nights and cozy, lazy days spent on the couch, simply talking and sharing life.
Easy. Simple. Predictable. A romantic comedy of my own making, all cuteness and ease and happy endings. That’s what we imagine when we think of romance. We never hope for a difficult relationship filled with past baggage or crave thousands of miles between us and our loved one or desire to be as unconventional as possible. No one wants that, the hard unknown; at least not when it comes to love.
But sometimes there is no comedy in romance and sometimes relationships mean more work than play and sometimes you have to grit your teeth and straighten your spine and see what you’re made of. You have to dig deep and find a strength you never knew you had. And you have to look at the man by your side and realize you don’t have to go it alone. You can be strong together. We are stronger together.
Because really, it isn’t my story. It’s our story. And it’s not my long distance relationship; it’s ours. And I love him, absolutely and completely with everything I am. Any moment I’m feeling lost or empty or completely frustrated, I know that he feels exactly what I’m feeling, because we are in this together. There is an amazing freedom and comfort to be found in that.
It won’t be forever, the distance and long separated weeks and sleepless plane rides for a few days at his side. My heart couldn’t manage it and neither could his. But there is this quote that I always come across that reads “bloom where you are planted.” And for now, I’m planted in this chapter of this romance with him. We are knee deep in dirt, just out of arms reach, but we are together. And we are blooming and growing into better people because of it. Mostly we are growing together and into each other’s hearts. So instead of longing for the romantic comedy I’m going to live this love story. I’m going to embrace it, every single piece of it, and I will revel in it with him.