By the time you read this, I’ll be in a plane en route to Kansas City, Mo.
I’m always a little reluctant to answer people truthfully when they ask where I went to school, because that answer (the University of Missouri) always leads to another question: Where am I from? (Texas.)
Of the many people whom I’ve met in York County so far, most were born and went to school in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania — so, my Missourian and Texan backgrounds never fail to elicit some degree of surprise.
Which is why I rarely bring up the topic of my boyfriend… who has been interning in Tulsa, Okla., since he graduated in May. We have seen each other six times since I moved to York in January, and I’ll be seeing him for a grand total of four whole days in this coming week after he picks me up in Kansas City and takes me to Tulsa.
Long-distance relationships are not exclusive to Generation Y, but naturally, we Gen Y’ers are tweaking the concept to suit our own needs. A summary of how just a few of my college friends are dealing with long-distance relationships (LDRs):
- Laura took a job in Kansas as her boyfriend Ben took a fellowship in Shanghai, China. After his visa expired, he rejoined her in Kansas for six months before relocating to Washington, D.C., for a new job. Laura is starting to look for jobs in the D.C. area for herself, but hasn’t made any concrete plans to join him there.
- Juana moved to Washington, D.C., for a job a year ago after working in Missouri. Joe stayed in Missouri until he found a new job in southern New York State. Juana’s happy that he’s now at least within driving distance, but it’s still an LDR.
- Kelsey lived with her boyfriend Kenneth in Columbia, Mo., (where our university is located) until she found a job in St. Louis, about two hours east. Kenneth followed her after graduating a little later, and they now live together.
I can’t count how many “trend” articles I’ve read about LDRs and our generation, but it seems as if many people follow one (or a mix) of these patterns:
- Boy and girl meet in college. As graduation nears, one or both of them decide not to continue the relationship. No LDR.
- Boy and girl meet in college. As graduation nears, they decide to commit to an LDR. One of them gets a job while the other either continues on a tour of internships or gets a job elsewhere — until they decide to break up or finally live together. Marriage = possibility.
- Boy and girl meet in college. As graduation nears, they decide to commit to an LDR. They each get a job or internship in the same area and live together. Marriage = possibility.
- Boy and girl don’t meet in college. They each have a job, and meet at work or a bar or elsewhere. They live together. Marriage = possibility. No LDR.
Contrast this to our parents’ generation: My own parents married right out of college, after doing an LDR during those four years. My mom was 21 at the time — an age I’ll have surpassed by three years next month. Fortunately, she hasn’t pressured me into taking any vows, although she does occasionally offer the gentle reminder that a relationship should move toward marriage if it’s to be taken seriously.
I’m not a fan of the LDR. The voice on the phone and the face on the computer monitor aren’t enough (despite my mom’s stories about how she and my dad only had snail mail back in the day). I don’t want to add up the cost of all the flights and hotels we’ve booked since we began long-distance in May 2010, and I’ll admit I’m more than slightly envious of everyone I know whose boyfriend is within driving distance.
But for those of us who met a special someone in college and pursued our dream careers post-graduation and still want to hang onto our college sweethearts, the LDR is the only way to go. It’s necessary, but not ideal. And hopefully my LDR will end once my boyfriend joins me here.
Until then, I’ll continue cooking for one, asking him to send me the occasional pizza and hearing his voice over the phone every night before I go to bed.
Hello, Missouri (and Oklahoma).