I’m due back at school midway through this month. It’ll have been almost exactly 18 months since I was in school last. And god, I’m so scared. I’m so worried about balancing everything. I’m taking a lot of classes after having taken none, I’m gonna be an RA, I’m on a club sports team and wanna join other clubs, I want to be more social and keep better in touch with my family and friends. (Yes, my life is so hard.) And I feel as though I can’t take care of the, like, three responsibilities I have now.
On top of that, I’m not all that excited about going back. I’m really enjoying the life I’m living now, and I don’t know that I was ever this enthusiastic about the life I lived at college. My girlfriend just graduated from Bates and she, like many others, keeps assuring me everyone hates freshman year, that it “gets better.” And I’m sure she’s right. I just feel so disconnected from the me of two years ago. Hell, I feel disconnected from the me of a couple months ago, so it’s hard to imagine being back there. It’s hard to look past all the stuff that’s stressing me out and remember the good stuff.
Pioneer Valley is so incredibly beautiful, and quintessentially quaint, but I didn’t really get to explore it very much during my freshman year. I want to take my father’s car to school, the one I drive when I’m home, a trusty hand-me-down 2002 Camry from my grandparents. (My brother lucked out and was given their old Pruis, which gets at least 20 miles per gallon more than mine, the jerk.) I’ve made my case to my parents, and they have caved, under the condition that I not take possession until October break. My mother is under the flabbergasting supposition that if I have a car, I will not be “present” on campus. Adding to this belief is the fact I’ve recently entered into a long-distance relationship (or said relationship recently became long-distance). She will be in Chicago, and I Massachusetts. I suspect my mother is worried I’ll drive there on a whim.
It’s not an unfounded worry. Not the driving part — my back is much too fucked to drive for 13 hours (I’ve mapped it, obviously). I can understand why she is worried about the relationship impacting my mental and emotional presence on campus. I’m worried, too, truthfully. It had been so long since I’d had anything approaching a real relationship — a healthy one, at least. And if I’m still being honest, the last one before this was probably during my senior year of high school. And I was so little then, so naive.
I still am. And I keep being shown how. I keep realizing, God, I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. I have never gotten this far before, past the initial crazy-intense whirlwind of emotions, into the actual nitty gritty of growing and maintaining a relationship. I wish they had taught me this in school. Taxes and healthy communication. We had a tough week last week, and I was attributing it all to the distance, and my depression — neither of which helped, to be sure. But I also realized, Hell, this could still be happening if she was right next to me. I have no idea. I just really never have made it this far before.
I was doing some research on long-distance relationships the other day, because, god, do I want this to work out (she’s hot and rich), and I came across this article claiming “LDRs” might actually be more healthy than no-distance ones. In it, they claim couples in LDRs actually talk and value each other more, because communication is really all they have, and absence makes the heart grow fonder, yada yada yada…
I was texting her the other day and called her my “girlfriend” — certainly not for the first time, but it still felt so odd, almost surreal, to see it written out, like written proof, a paper trail. It takes me by surprise often, that she is mine and I am hers. She told me once, just before she left me in Portland, “I picture your heart as belonging to the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in Maine.”
“The ocean,” I said. “My heart is yours now, and when that fades it will return to the ocean. But I think that’s kind of lovely.”