The trouble with long-distance relationships

Zach Buckley, IV Leader Opinion Editor

In August, my girlfriend of nearly two years headed down to SIUC to study Photography and Photojournalism.  Obviously, it was exciting and practically a dream come true (think about it, how many people actually study what they love?) but for me, leaving her 300 miles away only to come back to the IV was pretty much the most difficult thing I have ever done.  Now, of course I am happy for her – it would make me a terrible boyfriend if not – but it isn’t an easy thing to watch the woman you love wave at you while you drive back home to deal with yourself.
When you spend the majority of your time with another person, they begin to become weaved into the fabric of your identity and serve so valuable of a purpose that when they leave you find yourself operating at a level far below optimal – as if you were missing an organ deemed necessary for your survival.  The cruel part about it, though, is that you do survive and keep going without this missing piece; like walking around with a hole in your chest.
I realize that I’m painting the image that long distance relationships are absolute hell but I promise they aren’t – initially, yes, they are hellish but not utter hell.  It’s a weird predicament to be in, to be completely honest.  On a physical level, it’s nearly identical to a break up: there’s a total absence of that familiar presence; a missing person that can’t quite be replaced but beyond that the relationship is still completely intact.  You’re still together but the dynamics of the relationship completely change.  Communication becomes everything.
I also found out just how much of a space she occupies in my world.  Besides the obvious physical aspects, there are so many nebulous ways in which your significant other affects and defines your day to day operations.  After she left, my routines had to change, my time laid aside for us had become some gaping hole to be filled in somehow.  It’s hard to rearrange your life at the drop of a hat, let me tell you.
Yet, I’m surviving.  Now, obviously it isn’t that devastating of a situation.  She’s only 300 miles away – which in today’s modern age isn’t that great of a distance.  You can drive down there and back in less than a day.  But that’s easy to say, because it isn’t a problem of convincing my mind and anyone in a long distance relationship knows this as well.  It’s something else entirely.  You continue on as if nothing’s really changed even though everything has.
It’s a really curious thing, long distance relationships.  You’re stuck between living your exact same life in an entirely different context.