Flipping through Instagram stories, my college asked returning students to swipe up with their best advice for first-years.
My move-in was two days away, so I paused, thumbing through suggestions of the best shower caddies, why not to wear high school clothing, and pleas to keep masks on so no one would get sent home. Suddenly, one suggestion hit me in the face.
It wasn't a surprise, I'd heard it before, but it did drastically contradict my plans: Instagram was strongly advising me not to go to college with my high school boyfriend.
It makes sense. New places, new people, new experiences. What are the odds the person you're supposed to be with is from some tiny town in Ohio when there's a whole world you haven't experienced yet? But last spring when my boyfriend and I sat down to have "The Talk" about next fall, we realized with everything changing, it would be so much nicer to have a constant, even if it was constant from far away. Besides, I honestly couldn't imagine not having him in my life.
And wow am I grateful we did.
I didn't even end up being able to go last fall, what with Covid changing up everyone's plans. He really helped me cope and work through the sucky feelings of staying home, and together we were able to find positives in such an unfortunate time. And when I finally learned I'd be able to move onto campus for the spring, no one was happier for me than him.
I just moved in last Monday, and Covid has definitely complicated the joys of college. I lived the first week without a roommate (she had to quarantine) and without options to go into anyone else's dorm, the most I've been able to do with people stand in ridiculously long dinner lines together, or possibly eat a socially distanced meal outside, with January weather doing us no favors. In a time where everything has changed and it's even more difficult than usual to meet people on campus, having my boyfriend as a constant has made all the difference.
When I'm stressed, I can still text him and feel a little bit of home.
In staying together I get to know that someone is always in my corner. He's both my boyfriend and my best friend, and the thought of not being with him is honestly preposterous to me. People break up for so many reasons - fighting, jealousy, distance - but we decided to try and make the distance work, and so far it's been absolutely no hassle to do so. Being long-distance gives me space to really explore and come into my college experience while we still get to stay together.
We're optimistic but we're not naive.
We know this doesn't always work. But our policy is that we make each other happy, and we're going to keep going with that until it doesn't make us happy anymore. If the distance is too hard we'll say goodbye and hope to make it work some other time with better circumstances. And distance is hard, I won't sugar coat it. But there are some people who are worth it. And when you find someone who brings you joy, I think you should hold onto them. A relationship doesn't need a fairytale situation to feel like a fairytale.
If you're understanding of each other's situations and decide to make it work, it can. For instance, if I apologize for not responding he makes me take it back because I'm enjoying my collegiate experience and that's important to both of us. We recognize each others' schedules and lives and try and catch each other when we can. In some ways, it makes the time we do get to catch up even more special. It might not work. It might. Neither of us is too concerned about it because right now, it makes us happy, and that's all that matters.