Until a few years ago, I never would have considered a long distance relationship a realistic option for myself. I once dated a guy who lived on the other side of the city and that relationship was challenging enough, though to be fair, our problems probably had more to do with him being a douche bag than the 30-minute drive between our apartments, but still. Long distance relationships were what other people did — people who spent all their money on gas and plane tickets and their weeknights scouring the internet for travel deals and want ads in their significant other’s city. They weren’t for people like me, who’d rather spend money on shoes, and evenings cooking dinner with a boyfriend I could see as often as I wanted. But then I met Drew and everything changed. Set up by a mutual friend while I was visiting New York one weekend, we hit it off better with each other than either of us had with anyone in our own respective cities. The irony wasn’t lost on me, and I spent the following weeks alternating between feelings of renewed hope in finding real love and the more familiar emotion of being totally pissed off at the world. Finally, in a moment I’m still not sure whether to call ‘clarity’ or ‘surrender,’ I invited Drew to come see me in Chicago.
Our visit was great and from there, we started a long distance courtship, flying back and forth to see each other every 2-4 weeks. Luckily, gas prices were still relatively low and we got great deals on plane tickets. Once, after we’d been dating about seven months, round-trip tickets between Chicago and New York dropped to, like, $76 and we quickly booked a bunch of flights for the next four months. Still, it was hard making all those trips. We both got so sick of delayed and canceled flights — sometimes spending entire days and nights in the airport. Taking so much time off from work caused issues, too, but nothing compared to the awfulness of those God forsaken good-byes every time one of us had to fly back home after a long weekend together.
I’d like to say we were smart about our relationship, that we set up some basic rules from the get-go, but I guess things just happened more organically between us. We never had a conversation, for example, about whether we were exclusive or not, something I’d urge any LDR couple to discuss early on. And while we did talk about closing the gap in the distance between us, we didn’t talk specifics for quite a while. So I’m not sure why our relationship worked, against the odds. Maybe there’s something to be said for fate, or timing, or just plain ‘karmic reward’ for all the crap relationships that came before.
About a year and a half after we met, I quit my job, sold my car and almost half my possessions, bid farewell to my friends and the city I’d called home for the last seven years, and moved to Manhattan to be with my man. I moved on a trial basis, knowing I could turn around and go home whenever I wanted, and I decided to leave my stuff in storage in Chicago until I was sure about staying in New York. I also decided to live with Drew until I found a job and my own place, but in the back of my mind, I even saw that as a trial, too. If we didn’t live together well in those first few months, what would be the point in sticking together?
Some might say it was a lot of pressure to put on a relatively new relationship, not to mention, well, myself. And the truth is, it was a ton of pressure. Being in a new city where I didn’t have a job, knew hardly anyone, and was quickly running out of money totally sucked. I was depressed, lonely, and once again, pissed at the world. But I stuck it out and slowly, things started to improve. I picked up some freelance work, made a few friends, and grew closer to Drew (living together turned out to be a blast). Best of all, I found some great shoe stores in the city.
In March, after five months in New York, I sent for my things in storage and moved in with Drew officially. Carving a life for myself in a new city was one thing, but the real adventure came in carving space in a packed, one-bedroom Manhattan apartment for all my stuff. Seven months later, though, I’m happy to report that I found a home for everything, including the one I unexpectedly found for myself 700 miles from Chicago…with a wonderful boyfriend and, of course, all those amazing shoes for sale.