Home For The Holidays

Home For The Holidays

A break, a vacation, a separation
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There are sixteen weeks in a semester. The first few weeks of the fall semester are spent making friends, adjusting to classes, and finding some sort of routine. The next couple may be dedicated to intensely studying for exams, getting involved in clubs, and spending more time with those new friends. Then, it’s midterms, and you’re spending all of your times either studying or distracting your friends from studying. Then it’s finals. The week that turns everyone into stressed out zombies, math machines, paper writers, and project makers. When finals are finally over, it’s time to go home.

Reflecting upon those sixteen weeks, maybe studying wasn’t the most noteworthy thing to mention at Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas morning brunch. Maybe, it was the sixteen weekends spent with the new friends you’ve made. From inside jokes, midnight adventures, and hallway shenanigans, to heart-to heart conversations, baking cookies, and drawing on people in their sleep, the weekends are the highlights of the semester.

So when finals are finally over, and it’s time to go home to your cats, dogs, and birth givers, it may be a tad bittersweet. The holidays are a nice time for family and a nice three week gap before the spring semester. However, it’s hard to be away from the friend family you’ve created at school who make you laugh until 3 a.m. watching Vine compilations on YouTube. All that you can do is make a joke about not seeing anyone until next year and wait for another sixteen weekends to do it all again.

Cover Image Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov via Unsplash

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Dear Fellow Millennials, Commitment Is Not As Scary As You Think It Is

Come on in, the water's fine.
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2906.

It’s the number of miles separating me from my girlfriend the night I asked her to marry me.

She was 20 and I was 23. She was away at art school in San Francisco, and I was back on the East Coast, having assumed a sabbatical of sorts from school and working at a local bank. It had been two months since we’d begun our relationship, and at this present moment, a few things were clear.

We’d both sworn off the pursuit of a relationship after rough and in one case devastating breakups, so neither of us saw the other coming.

I remember knowing she was the one about 30 seconds into our first conversation, give or take. Proposition of marriage was never a question of if for me, but rather one of when.

I didn’t then, nor had I ever, seen the point of being in a relationship without the intention of marriage. If I wanted to play games, that’s what good friends and go-karts are for. Dating always seemed, at least at the outset, like a perpetual assessment of interest hopefully over good food. So, when the question of marriage sat on my lips, it sat there with me nervous about her response, but confident knowing that my assessment was long over. It had only been two months, but I knew well sooner than then that I wanted her forever. And I wanted to devote myself to her forever, provided she’d have me.

Well, first things first…SHE SAID YES…well, okay, not right away. She said yes after having run up and down the street screaming for ten minutes with me still on the phone, an impressive feat in hindsight considering her asthma. That was almost seven years ago, and we’ve been married for nearly five of them.

I often look back on that time fondly. I mean, yes, it was hard. Long distance relationships are incredibly hard, but it paid dividends for us in that the lack of physical interaction forced us to communicate more. All the difficulties we suffered on the front end have meant even more on this end of the pendulum swing. For though sorrows mounted, we remained committed to each other.

Ooooh. Commitment.

It’s become something of a dirty word these days, hasn’t it? And it makes sense. You see it all over our culture. Look at the way music is consumed these days, with iTunes and streaming platforms allowing people to make mobile playlists as opposed to the 90’s, during which buying one song often meant COMMITTING to a whole album. And when your favorite song is track six of ten, there is at least a 90% chance you will be at least a little bit disappointed with your purchase.

I wonder if this isn’t how my generation views dating. Good or bad, we’ve all got traits like albums have tracks. And supposing you really like a person based on one or a few other traits they have, you know that person could have tons and tons of bad ones, kind of like filler songs surrounding the one you bought the album for. Either way, it’s a toss-up in a world that craves certainty and painlessness. So why risk getting cut deep in real relationship when you can stay surface and swipe right? This sort of thinking capitalizes on the same advantages that an introvert has by hanging out in the shallow end at a pool party. You only ever go as deep as is “safe”, yet no one can ever accuse you of not swimming.

I cannot say relationship is painless without lying to you. But what is true is that real love isn’t painless either. I stake my entire being and purpose on the actions of One who hung on a wooden Cross by way of nails as atonement for my “filler songs”. It was a shocking act that ultimately served as evidence that I am loved. Yet, as much as those who also believe celebrate this death, we rarely acknowledge how gruesome it was. The death of Jesus was a messy, messy affair that ultimately yielded beautiful results. But to get to the beautiful, He had to first be willing to embrace the mess.

We all have baggage. Heck, if you’re anything like me, you probably feel like you’re LaGuardia on Thanksgiving weekend on the inside all the time. My wife and I have seen some really good things and some not so good things in each other. Yet, my due north is this: Without her, I cannot be me. She makes the bad days bearable and the good days so much better. I can’t imagine what my 20’s would have been like had she not been my companion through it all.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’ve been cut deep by a person, or people. Maybe you’re just terrified altogether. Again, I can’t promise you it’ll be without pain. But I can tell you that commitment is always worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Franco

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How To Make A Long-Distance Relationship Really Work

It's not just a myth for the movies!
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Newsflash: distance doesn’t have to ruin your relationship.

It’s hard to imagine when you’ve never had to spend more than a day or two without seeing your partner. If a few days of separation makes you miserable, it’s even worse to think about the weeks or possibly months, that you’ll have to spend apart. Distance isn’t the ultimate relationship killer, however, and no, successful long-distance relationships aren’t myths. Here is a handy go-to guide in having your relationship survive the dreadful time apart:

First, you should really consider the relationship you’re in: is it situational? In a situational relationship, your partner is only in your future because you haven’t experienced an environment away from them. A lot of high-school romances, unfortunately, are situational. Since you have them in classes every day, or you drive them to school in the mornings, or you spend every lunch together, it’s hard not to imagine them with you. The reason so many relationships end once college begins is that suddenly, you realize that you loved them because they were there. It wasn’t because they shared the same future goals as you, or because you would genuinely do anything for them, but because you were in each other’s circles all the time. It was a convenient relationship that made you happy while you were in high school, but now you’ve seen a bigger world, and suddenly their presence isn’t necessary. If you can sit down now, and consider the grounds in which your relationship was formed, congrats. Most people can’t, and won’t realize that they’re only dating someone because their options in their setting are limited. If you fear your relationship may be situational, then it may be time to have a talk with your partner.

If not, the first step in a long-distance relationship (and any relationship, really) is constant communication. I’m not advising you to phone your partner at every given free moment. You should, however, text them throughout the day, and throughout the weeks you’re apart. Schedule time for phone calls and FaceTimes that fit with both of your plans. Set time aside to just talk to your partner. Even if you just send them a few memes throughout the day that remind you of them, or if you call every night to say goodnight before you sleep- it’s important to reach out on a daily or regular basis. If you only send them your SnapChat streaks and call once a week, that’s not going to cut it. The communication, really, is half the battle. If you can find a steady schedule to keep yourselves connected, you’re doing a great job already.

Next, you should work on scheduling times to see each other. This one could be tricky, especially if the distance is a 6+ hour drive. Develop a balance so the two of you both make the effort for visitation. Plan dates that work within your schedules and actually commit to them. If neither of you can travel to see each other until winter break, that’s a-okay: as long as you both agree to that plan. Do not force your partner to drive to see you all the time, but refuse to take the bus to go visit them, too.

Sidenote: surprise visits can actually not be so great and romantic as you think, especially if one or both of you have roommates. Your partner will need to give their roommate the heads-up before you spend a few nights, so you do actually need to plan the visits accordingly.

Send each other things. Sincerely, sending little care packages or handwritten letters or little presents just for fun can add the romantic quality to your relationship that’s usually completed by dates. This one you don’t have to plan out; it’s actually cuter sometimes to send your partner a gift in the mail and have them be surprised by it. Of course, you don’t have to send them things all the time (since, you know, postage costs money) but being thoughtful every now and then is a cute way to show your partner you still care, especially if you can’t see them too often. And obviously, don’t forget each other’s birthdays or Valentine’s Day, if you won’t be together in person!

Don't give up. There’s a big difference in saying “This isn’t making me happy anymore” and “If we never see each other, what’s the point?” If you fall into the first realization, it’s possible that the relationship just isn’t working out. But if you believe in the second, you may not be able to have a long-distance relationship; most of your relationships are probably situational. That’s okay! Fortunately for you, you’ll always be able to find romance, wherever you go.

If you want to keep a long-distance relationship, because it makes you really happy, but the thought of not seeing your person makes you hopeless- keep going! Keep a physical calendar and mark down the days until you’re reunited. A few weeks apart is nothing in comparison to the months you’ll have together over the summer, and the years you’ll have together if you plan on staying together after college. The time will move much quicker than you think, I promise.


There are ways to make it work, especially if you’re willing to put in the effort. Again, all relationships require work to make them last, so as long as you understand that it’s not going to be like the movies, and it will require a give-and-take, your relationship can survive anything- even distance.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvortygirl/6788198070

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