Freshman Lauren Fisher reflects on the good and the bad of having a long distance relationship with her California boyfriend.

After 16 days of being together, my boyfriend and I officially celebrated our seven month anniversary.

Of course, what I’ve just said is impossible. I’m no mathematician, but even I know that there are far more than 16 days in seven months —that is the kind of stuff you learn in first grade math. I maintain, however, that my statement is 100 percent true.

Confused yet? Allow me to explain.

Nearly two years ago, I spent a week in snow-blanketed Washington, D.C., mixing and mingling with students from all over the country for an experience that was equal parts government crash course and nationwide get-together for political nerds. I met Landon during our venture to Capitol Hill, while sitting at the jewelry counter of a Kate Spade store, watching our friends flirt from a comfortable distance.

He was the picture-perfect California boy: effortlessly cool, complete with a dashing smile and a West Coast vocabulary that tended to sound like a foreign language. I was the small-town Ohio girl: kind of awkward, usually focused on editing the school paper and pale as the snow on the White House lawn. It was a sickeningly cliche match made in the nation’s capitol.

To cut a long story short, something must have clicked. After two days in D.C., we exchanged numbers while standing outside the White House fence, and before I could blink, I was running out the door of the Marriott with a plane to catch, looking back for that last glimpse and thinking that it was goodbye. It wasn’t until then I realized that I didn’t even know his last name.

Next April rolled around, and suddenly I was waiting at the airport arrivals gate, my heart beating out of my chest. After more than a year of communicating only via text messages and the occasional Skype call, there he was, standing at the top of the escalator with open arms. The boy I’d known for two days over a year ago had flown nearly 3,000 miles to take me to my senior prom.

Three months later, I was the one on the plane, making my first cross-country trip to the West Coast, where I spent the first days of July exploring the mystical land of Northern California with my best friend by my side. It remains, without a doubt, one of the fondest memories I have. It was during those weeks that I realized exactly what it meant to have “the time of your life,” and then some.

And suddenly, I was home. My flight had touched back down in Dayton, and with the first text message that I received upon stepping off the plane, the realization quickly sunk in. When, if ever, would I see him again? It’s a feeling that can't be easily explained to anyone who has never found themselves in a similar situation. It can leave you feeling helpless and confused in a way that can’t quite be described.

And yet, life goes on.

The first time I returned from California, the first week home was like a hazy dream. After a tearful 2 a.m. drive around town, just before I’d left, we’d come to the conclusion that everyone had warned us about from the start — if distance wasn’t a factor, we’d told each other, everything would be perfect. But there was simply no way to get around it.

Our decision was to be open. We’d allow ourselves to meet other people without holding each other back. In this way, we would truly “experience college,” as we had grown fond of saying. That idea, however, lasted for about two weeks, as we quickly realized that we cared for each other far too much to even imagine the other with anyone else.

Once again, we were exclusive. That time, however, we decided to give it our all.

Have there been sacrifices made? Of course.

Date night isn’t ballroom dancing and a romantic picnic for two. It’s not ice skating and hot cocoa, or even dinner and a movie. It’s trapped within the screen of a laptop: two faces under the fluorescent glow of dorm room light fixtures, against backdrops of eggshell-tinted cinder blocks. It’s shoddy Wi-Fi signals cutting the evening short and coordinating Netflix to play in sync so you can laugh at the same jokes on Friends.

We can’t take care of the other when one of us is sick. When one of us has been worn down by the day, sitting on the other side of the screen in tears, we can’t simply fly across the country to offer a shoulder to cry on. It can be fulfilling, for sure, but it can also be an extraordinarily isolating experience.

In that respect, and in countless others, the distance has made us strong, not only as a couple, but also as individuals learning to navigate adulthood.

In some ways, we think of ourselves as the epitome of the 21st century couple. We live in an age in which the technological opportunities have made navigating a long distance relationship relatively easy. Where, between four-hour-long Skype calls, shared Spotify playlists and constant Snapchat updates, it’s almost as if distance isn’t a problem. Almost.

Being so dependent on technology, however, is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Giving up could be as simple as ending the call. For us, that has become a promise — even when times are tough, neither of us will ever press the red button.

Above all, we consider ourselves to be incredibly lucky.

Long distance has allowed me to pursue my own interests and talents without many of the pressures that a conventional relationship tends to involve. In circumstances that are anything but ordinary, I’ve found both a best friend and a co-pilot. A personal cheerleader and a lover. Someone who will show me both unfailing friendship and unconditional love, no matter the distance.

When you’re in a relationship like that, people like to ask questions. And I’ve found that there’s one that inevitably arises, in some form or another: Is it all worth it?

The answer is something that I have yet to figure out completely. Neither of us have. And to be honest, I don’t know if either of us ever will.

What I do know is this: To me, there is no greater feeling in the world than looking across the crowded airport floor and seeing the one you love, the one who makes you happier than anyone else in the world, standing there, waiting for you. Seeing the smile that lights up their face as you run into each other’s arms after months, even years of being apart, is an image that will weave itself into your dreams at night.

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And when you awaken, realizing that this time it was all a dream, you roll out of bed and start your day on your own. Despite your wishes, you’re still worlds away. There’s no way to get around it: The distance isn’t going anywhere.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lauren Fisher is a freshman studying journalism. Email her at or tweet her @lauren__fisher.

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