It’s funny how all kinds of things separate us: jobs, family, and school. Some of us might never face the challenge of distance, but many of us find ourselves fighting distance regularly.
When we return home for the summer or to a new city for an internship, we face distance. When all of the seniors graduate in four weeks, we will face distance. And when your boyfriend or girlfriend moves or maybe your family relocates while you’re still in school, you face distance.
I always wonder how far is too far. Can two hours really justify pulling two people apart? 120 minutes. That’s only 40 minutes longer than a typical class at Bates. Surely two people that love each other can handle that right?
So what is it that allows distance to break us apart? And better yet, what about it can pull us closer together?
It’s not that not being able to talk makes it difficult, but there are obstacles with all types of communication. Heck, sometimes we even revert back to writing letters just to get a sense of the old fashioned way we used to approach distance.
When we graduate from college or simply leave for the summer, we’ll probably only talk to a few people we used to see on a regular basis. It’s hard to tell and predict just which people that select few might consist of.
How do some people successfully overcome distance and make it work for each other separately and together?
Sometimes one person in the equation might complain about feeling suffocated, not getting enough attention, not caring enough, maybe even caring too much. Distance seems to come with a whole assortment of complaints, worries, and frustrations.
What would have happened if distance didn’t knock on our front door every summer, for the whole semester, or for what feels like an eternity of two years?
When you search “long distance” on Google News, the first few articles that pop up involve basketball, long-distance trains, the movie ‘Long Distance’ and vibrating underwear controlled by smart phones that could keep long-distance couples satisfied (I promise I am not making this one up).
Could vibrating underwear controlled by smart phones really keep us from breaking up, having a falling out, or losing touch?
Maybe vibrating underwear controlled by smart phones isn’t the solution I had in mind, but that’s not to say that we might not look outside of the box for a variety of solutions to keep us together and make sure things stay the same as everything else becomes so different.
My best friend’s little sister (from Maryland) went to school in California, I moved to Maryland from Maine for Bates, lived in three different cities for the last three summers and my best friend goes to school in North Carolina.
Sure, sometimes we have wanted to rip our hair out trying to stay in touch. We play phone tag for a week, can’t get a bar of service in the library, or become so sick of texting that we stop communicating all together. But, we have breaks, we take time to visit one another at school, and we Skype when we can.
During my drive back to Bates from Maryland after break, my friend started making claims about what makes romantic long distance relationships so much more different than long distance friendships.
First she came up with the idea of the sexual aspect and the idea of “needing” each other in that sense.
I thought that seemed like a genuine claim. A big part of our romantic relationships depends on the obvious: sex. Without it, do our relationships cease to function? What is it about sex that keeps us together?
On the bus to Andover from Boston, a woman recognized my Bates sweatshirt and mentioned that she had two boys who attended Bowdoin and had friends that had children who attended Bates.
Right away, she brought up her son’s wedding. She told me that, “He had ten friends! All those 10 boys with him. From those schools, you have friends forever. Forever.”
I felt a sense of ease. She had pointed out the obvious that I had been beating around for the past four years. Not only did the people make Bates special, but the fact that we would maintain our relationships with these people forever.
Maybe 10 boys will not attend my wedding, but I know that 7 girls certainly will.
When I showed my mom this article, she said that she wished her family lived right down the road.
One of my best friends from Bates told me that what makes the weekends so hard for long-distance romantic relationships is that you are suddenly finding yourself having to choose between friends and your special significant other.
I envy those that find the perfect balance, and maybe for some, you have to live within reasonable distance of your friends and your significant other to make yourself and those you love happy.
I will never quite understand distance. After flying home from California, and then driving back across the U.S. up to Maine after break, passing through Boston and finally reaching Lewiston, I started questioning state lines. Exit after exit, I kept wishing to know and just understand why these state lines and boundaries do such a good job at getting in the way.