Her Name is Alberta, She Lives in Vancouver
It’s hard having a significant other at a distant school. Maybe not as hard as, say, upgrading your computer to dual-boot BSD, but challenging all the same. Being an ickle freshman with no independent cash flow and a consistent homework load sort of precludes the possibility of regular travel for the time being, and our vacations don’t seem to line up properly, rather like Red Leader’s proton torpedoes. (Case in point: her spring break was three weeks before ours. Curse you, Massachusetts weather that’s only hovering above freezing, even after the vernal equinox!) I continue to be thankful that MIT is so well and fully wired that staying in contact in the electronic age is especially simple here. After all, that’s what the Internet is for, right? Sending enough Facebook music dedications to fill dozens of mix tapes? I’ve actually been several blocks up Mass. Ave. and wondered where the nearest Athena station was, but that’s for another article to address. My comedy well is only so deep, and I need to keep a good tab on what few funny subjects I can manage to conjure.
Given how difficult it is to maintain a long-distance relationship, I confess that I can’t help but derive some Schadenfreudian pleasure from seeing other people’s Facebook statuses change to “single.” I know it’s not very empathetic and that dating is not a competition, but even so, it’s comforting to know that I might actually be doing something right. As a stereotypical male whose intuition has always been somewhat hit-and-miss, trying to gauge how my girlfriend is feeling based solely on text or voice is like trying to predict the weather based solely on how your hand feels when you stick it out the window. You’ll have no idea whether it’s sunny or cloudy, and by the time you realize the storm of the century is coming, it’s already arrived. I mean, my girlfriend is not the sort of person that gets sore at someone for no reason, and throughout our relationship, she’s actually been way more forgiving of my bone-headed mistakes than I probably deserve. Still, it’s not the same as a face-to-face encounter if I happen to end up digging myself into a hole, without the benefit of seeing the scowl or crossed arms that indicate that I should drop the shovel.
In spite of all of that, I do think that long-distance relationships can be worth the while. After all, separation (like everything else in life) is only temporary. I can’t even begin to convey how great it was to walk off a plane after three months and see my girlfriend waiting with my parents to greet me (chick flick moment!). It was also especially impressive considering my flight got in at two o’clock in the morning. (Curse you, Massachusetts weather that drops two blankets and a quilt of snow on Boston/Cambridge the day I fly out for winter break!)
It’s also quite the confidence booster to hang out seven times in as many days and find three months of separation to be virtually inconsequential with regard to relationship functionality. The eventual parting tends to be more bitter than sweet, and I am a little ashamed to admit that I sentimentally pressed my hand against the window when I rode away from her (chick flick moment number two!).
The logistics of long-distance relationships naturally vary from couple to couple, but on the off-chance any of you out there are leery of them, just be aware that you don’t have to be. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do. There may be life outside my dorm, but in the meantime, there is science to be done. Unless, of course, you elect to pursue a B.A. in English.