I never intended to enter into a long distance relationship.
I had done that before. And while it wasn’t catastrophic, it was difficult. I had been dating my boyfriend at the time for a year and a half when I left to study abroad in London for four months as my first semester of college. I was 18, he was 17, still in his senior year of high school. Where I was living, with seven girls sharing one WiFi router and three rooms, it was very difficult to find time alone to Skype when the connection would be more than just our pixelated faces and delayed audio. When I returned, I found our relationship exactly where it had been when I left in August. We hadn’t slid backwards but we hadn’t moved forward either. It was almost as if our relationship had been frozen in ice for four months – safe and protected, but not dynamic. Not ever-changing, as I wanted it to be. I broke up with him two months later.
So when I found myself studying abroad again, this time in Italy for the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided that I would absolutely not fall in love. Not with an Italian, and not with anyone who didn’t go to my college or at least live near me in the States. I wasn’t going to do long distance again. I wasn’t going to pin myself to someone who wouldn’t be nearby.
But the heart wants what it wants, of course, and so as fate would have it, I met a girl.
Her name is Kayla, and we went to Florence in mid-February together. She told me she was bisexual at dinner and I excused myself to the bathroom to text my best friend frantically with “what do I do she likes girls I’m freaking out!” My friend responded “Just tell her you’re interested!”
Instead I returned to the table and ordered more wine for both of us.
The wine did the trick and before we knew it we were in our hotel room making out like the classiest of college students.
The next morning, however, I made a dick move: I pretended it hadn’t happened. I didn’t want to be in a relationship, and certainly not with someone who lives and goes to school in Colorado while I live and go to school in Pennsylvania. I was convinced it couldn’t work out, so I decided to do what I do best when under pressure: ignore it and hope it goes away.
Of course, it did not go away, so a week later, under pressure from friends who know me far better than I know myself, I messaged her explaining why I was being distant and weird. And she responded that she didn’t want anything long-term but that she’d be more than willing to continue this ‘whatever it was’ while we were abroad.
And because she’s her, I couldn’t resist. I agreed, and soon enough we were doing couple stuff like grocery shopping together, skiing in the Alps together (I somehow managed to ski sideways across a hill into her and knock us both over), and going on more trips to the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Siena.
By the time we got to Cinque Terre, we were done for. We were girlfriends in everything but name.
It was kind of the perfect love story, but I was too scared to let it be one. I didn’t want to go into a long distance relationship so badly that I was willing to sacrifice what I had with Kayla, which was something really great. She understands my sarcastic sense of humor, she agrees with most of my opinions, she has a lot of the same interests as me… But because long distance had been so difficult when I was in London, and because it hadn’t worked out with him in the end, I was worried that she and I were doomed to go down the same path.
In the end, as May neared and saying goodbye to her became an immediate and very real concern, I realized that I couldn’t say goodbye forever. Even though I’d fought against falling in love, even though I’d worried myself blue in the face about getting into a relationship, I had gone and done it anyway. We were dating and I was falling for her no matter what.
So now we’re entering a new stage of our relationship; a more difficult stage. And I’m excited, and terrified, but I’ll share all of it here in this space. The good, the bad, tips and tricks, thoughts and concerns about long distance, the works.