Going the Distance

 

courtesy Google Images

Mathew called me. “Baby, I am thinking about re-enlisting,” he said.

All I could do was sit and stare blankly at the wall. No, I thought. I couldn’t be apart from him anymore.

“Mathew, don’t! Please don’t. I can’t go another year apart!” I replied.

I knew that this topic would come up again. It had four times before.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that Mathew is serving in the military, but our relationship is different than others. We are 2000 miles apart and if Mathew, my fiancé, were to re-enlist, we would be separated for another year before we could be in each other’s arms again.

In the five years we have been a couple, we have seen each other  four months total. That is a lot of time apart!

For some, the distance is too great and the time spent apart is a deal breaker. Yet others find a way to make it work.

The Distance

Mathew is in California; I am in South Carolina.

California is home of Hollywood and surfers on the Pacific Coast; South Carolina, birthplace of the Civil War and home to Southern belles on the Atlantic Coast.

On these two opposite ends of the country are two hearts with two different priorities keeping us apart; the East Coast college girl and the West Coast Marine. This problem forced Mathew  not to sign the re-enlistment papers. He can’t do it anymore. The distance is too much.

How do we make it work? We constantly stay in touch. We text each other throughout the day, sending little messages here and there just to show we are thinking about one another. The phone calls every night range from one to two hours. We fit in Skype dates every now and then.

Field ops and training exercises can take Mathew away from a phone for days and it is times like these when I will barely hear from him. These can be the hardest moments. Once you get used to really long phone calls, it feels like you are going through a relapse of an addiction. The addiction is hearing his voice before going to bed.

Being in love is a beautiful thing. Experiencing it is another. That’s something I miss about seeing Mat every day during one of his visits. I miss holding his hand, I miss touching his skin, I miss cuddling on the couch, I miss talking face to face, I miss looking into his eyes, and I miss feeling his lips on mine.

What I miss even more are the memories we could be making.

Sometimes, as I walk through the mall or stroll downtown, I see couples snuggle up against one another in the cold weather. I see couples holding hands or draping arms around their shoulders as they walk the streets. When I am at a club I get jealous of the slow dancing couples, wishing Mat were there to dance right along with me.

There are nights when I find that my day was rough, and all I want is a hug from him, but he isn’t here. I feel the tears fall, not knowing why I suddenly feel the urge to cry, but it always relates to missing him.

I admit, the distance between us is too much, and I wish that California would push its way through the states and trade places with North Carolina. Instead, I must deal with the expensive, five-hour flights until we are together again.

Long distance is not an experience everyone should endure. It takes a strong heart and a committed soul to be separated for long periods of time. Some couples feel as though they need to see each other every day in order to make the relationship work, others can go a few days without seeing their partner and be fine. The separation can strain a relationship, causing it to fall into pieces. This is why I say only few couples can deal with being apart for long periods of time.

I cannot wait to see Mat again a month from now when he leaves the Marines Corp for good. We will no longer be apart for more than a week at a time. We will no longer have to rely on phone calls and text messages to make it through the day. We will no longer look at one another through photographs and webcams. We will look at each other, face to face, eye to eye. I cannot wait until the time comes when we will be together until death do us part.

Embrace the Cliche Final Part

Fairy Tales do Come True

Eight months later in March 2009, Mat took me to California over spring break. We visited Hollywood, San Diego and went to the beach, He got me to skydive, and something I will never do again. It was one of the best weeks I had ever experienced. I knew that I had received a second chance.

For Valentine’s Day 2010, Mathew sent me a package that I was not allowed to open. I stared at the package for almost two months! I shoved it in my closet and couldn’t look at it until he arrived for the Spring Formal, the school dance.

The night of the dance, Mathew took me out to dinner. I carried the package with me everywhere but he wouldn’t let me open it. It had to be the right moment. After waiting to open it at the restaurant, he still wouldn’t let me open it. I drove to the location, feeling really antsy. I wanted to know what was in it! When I parked the car in the parking lot of Seawells he said I could open it.

I fumbled with the packaging tape. After a few minutes I finally got it open and pulled out a small 5 inch figurine of an Eiffel Tower. It was so beautiful, and I loved it.

“Thank you!” I said to him.

“I remember you had a childhood dream once,” he began. I started to feel my palms sweat. What is he doing?

“You once said you always wanted to get proposed to on top of the Eiffel Tower. I cannot take you there, but I can bring it to you.” At this moment he pulled the ring out of his pocket. “Will you marry me?”

The clichés you don’t want hear can sometimes turn out to be true. Clichés are definitely realistic. Whenever I hear one, I smile because it happened to me. It can happen to anyone.

 

Embrace the Cliche Part V

Photo by Camp LejeuneSecond Chances

After breaking it off with Mat, I was sad for weeks. I knew I did the best thing for me, but I never got to see his reaction. I got a response on my MySpace saying, ‘I was expecting this to come sooner or later. I had a great time with you and wish you all of the best. Mat.’

I hated myself for ending it the way I had. That was in August 2007. After a year and half together, we were over.

Three months later, in November 2007, I started going out with a guy friend who for the longest time had begged me to go out with him. I was skeptical at first because I thought Mat would hate me for moving on to this new guy.

I was wrong, yet again.

In January 2008 Mat was still in Iraq, and we reconnected and started messaging on MySpace. The conversations started out really short but got longer every time he replied. I was starting to miss him, but I was with someone new and was happy.

Dixon, the new boyfriend, and I were doing really great until the end of April 2008. We called it quits after dating only a few months.

Tuesday, June 2, 2008, I was on MySpace, and I saw that Mathew was online at the same time. I was really excited because he was never on the same time as I was because of the time difference.

We started chatting, and he said he couldn’t sleep and went to the computers to mess around. “So when do you get to come home for a visit?” I asked him.

“I don’t get my two weeks of leave until August or September,” he said. My heart sank. I was going to be starting college in August.

The next night I went to youth group. The youth house was a renovated house with a café style kitchen, a bathroom and poolroom. Outside were a porch and a sand volleyball court that had just been put in. I was sitting on a barstool with my friend James, chatting before the lesson started, and the front door to the house opened. I was still talking to James while a huge smile formed across his face.

“What?” I asked. I turned to the door and saw Mathew’s brother Paul walking through the door, and behind him came Mathew.

I scrambled off my bar stool and ran to Mathew and threw myself into his arms. My feet weren’t even touching the ground. The night before he had told me he couldn’t be home for another few months, and here he was standing in front of me.

“Surprise!” he said, laughing.

It was the best surprise that I had ever had. Mathew was home, but I was confused as to why he chose now for his leave. He came over to my house the next day and we sat in my room and talked.

He explained he came home for my graduation because it seemed like the perfect time to come home. He also said he missed me and wanted to be there when I walked.

He still cared! He would not have come home if he didn’t care!

We talked about us. I wanted to know if there were any chances of us ever getting back together. I missed him. He said that he needed time to think about it. He wanted to be sure this time and did not want to rush into something that would end in disaster.

I couldn’t see him off when he left. A few weeks later, Mathew decided he wanted to give us another try.

The one good thing in my life that I had let go was now back in my life, and I was going to cherish every moment of it.

Embrace the Cliche Part IV

Moving On, Moving Out

The summer of 2007, Mathew was at Marines Corp boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. I was still in Florida, working my summer job at Wendy’s and waiting for him to come home. The minute his mom gave me his address at church that Sunday, I began writing him letters. I wrote to him, telling him how great things were at home, how much I missed him and I couldn’t wait to see him in August. I added a picture of myself and sent the letter off.

After three weeks, I sent him another one, not sure if he ever received the first because I never got a response from him.

I sent a second one. No reply.

I wrote him again. No reply. After the third letter I gave up. I figured I would just wait for him to come home.

I was not able to see him graduate boot camp because school had started. I finally saw him at church after three months without contact. He wore his uniform, a green shirt with hunter green pants, black dress shoes, and I was happy to see him, but angry about not hearing from him for three months.

I talked to him about it, and he said he had gotten his letters. He apologized for not writing but said he had been way too busy to reply. I was hurt by this. I knew that he could have written before he went to sleep at night. He didn’t make the effort.

This was when I realized something. I loved him, but I had to let him go.

Mathew only had two weeks at home before he went for more training in California with a unit. I knew I couldn’t do a long distance relationship in high school.

The minute Mat got placed into his new job at Camp Pendleton, CA; he got the word he was going to Iraq. I was upset by this. I did not want him to fight, and I certainly did not want to be separated by distance anymore. I knew what I had to do. The thought had been crossing my mind for weeks, and I had to do it now.

I was never good at saying things face to face. I hopped on my computer and began to type out a letter to send to him, telling him that he was a great person, but it wasn’t going to work. I was going to give it to him to read the next time I saw him. I wished I could have done that; the pain would have been easier to take. But since he was in California and getting ready to leave for Iraq, I did the next best thing, MySpace.