Three years ago today, I was single. I would be single for a few more days... nine, to be exact. Well, eight, depending on how you look at it. There was some timey wimey wibbly wobblyness in there. You see, eight/nine days from now, three years ago, I answered a letter from a certain young man living on the East Coast with the reply that, yes, I did want to be his girlfriend.
Being in a long distance relationship certainly has it's challenges... one of which is the difficulty in celebrating things together like birthdays, holidays and sometimes even anniversaries. We've never spent an actual holiday together (apart from the Fourth of July last year, but that marginally counts), we've never spent our birthdays together, and last year we weren't together for our actual anniversary. That's really, really hard.
Despite the difficulties that separation brings, however, we've managed to find ways to celebrate the milestones and events in life together. Necessity is the mother of invention, if I'm remembering the phrase correctly, and I have to say, I think we've come up with some pretty good ones.
Technology is a wonderful miracle, without which long distance dating would be much harder. One of our favorite ways to celebrate birthdays, Valentines Day or just dating is to go on what we've termed a "long distance movie date". We decide what film we want to see, look up to see what the closest corresponding showing times are (the past few times we've gotten luck with the time difference and found shows starting at the same time!) and then follow up the film with a Skype session at a nearby coffee place to talk about the movie.
Birthdays are always celebrated with several phone calls, a movie date if there isn't an in-person visit in a close timeframe, and we always open our gifts from each other while Skyping (if not opened at an in-person visit). Christmas being the busy day that it is, we don't get a chance to Skype, but we do make sure to call each other and there is always a visit not long after during which we can properly exchange gifts
and enjoy the mistletoe. Valentine's Day is celebrated in a similar fashion... we've made a tradition of going out for coffee, Skyping and opening cards and little gifts to each other.
(As an aside, coffee has a memorable place in our relationship, so the choice of a coffee shop is not simply because they are nice places to video chat. Actually, the WiFi can be quite frustrating most of the time. But coffee as a means of bringing us together and making me fall in love with him is a story for another day...)
My favorite way of spending time together when we are apart is something that was inspired by a song my Fairy Godmother shared with me last year, a little bit before our second anniversary. He had flown out to go on vacation with my family and I about a week before and wasn't able to be here for the actual day. We went out for a lovely dinner to celebrate while he was here, but we wanted to do something on that day as well.
My Fairy Godmother shared a quote with me along the lines of "there is no distance between two tabernacles", and then shared the song "See You in the Eucharist". And that is what gave me the idea for a long distance Holy Hour together. We did it together for our anniversary last year, and for Valentine's Day this year before going out for coffee, and both times it was a truly beautiful hour. It really does feel as if he is there, right on the other side of the Tabernacle that I am kneeling in front of. Prayer played an very important role in our love story, and is an important part of our lives, and growing closer together in prayer is the best thing any couple can do.
And we have, of course, found ways of celebrating the little events in life too. We call, we text, we text a lot, we send each other pictures - such as, if I'm wearing a cute outfit and want him to see it, or he catches a nice size fish - we share things on Facebook and chat and update each other on what we are doing and experiencing and feeling.
Celebrating life together is a challenge, but it's an exciting challenge. And it helps when you have the most awesome guy in the world to figure it all out with.