When Rene and I first started dating, we lived four hours apart. We were both finishing senior year of college – me here in New York, him in Pennsylvania. We fell in love hard and fast. Living apart from someone who was so suddenly essential to my happiness was a challenge, to say the least. Sometimes, it was literally debilitating – I actually remember laying on my bed, unable to do or think about anything else, wondering why it has to be so difficult. We saw each other about every three weeks, and when we were together, it was like the whole world had stopped, and everything and everyone else ceased to exist. Every moment we spent together was more fun than the one before (okay, are you barfing yet?).
During one of my visits to Pennsylvania, we decided that once he moved back to New York, we would rent an apartment together. We were just a few months into the relationship, but the next step was so clear.
Having been together for nearly five years now and living together for two of them, our lives are completely intertwined. We wake up together, have dinner together almost every night while catching up on our days, eat pancakes while watching Netflix on the weekends – in short, we have a life together (and it involves a lot of food, evidently). But on Monday, this will all change.
Makin’ our favorite food – banana pancakes
This spring, Rene accepted a full scholarship for a Master of Fine Arts program at a university in upstate New York – the program will commence this fall. Going back to school was on Rene’s agenda for a long time, so this doesn’t come as a total surprise to me, but I never truly envisioned what it’d be like to do the long distance thing again. Of course, I contemplated moving up there with him, but with my own career taking off here in the city, that would probably be a mistake.
It’s been pretty tough knowing this news for months and not being able to share with you all, but since he gave notice at his job, I can finally vent. When I first realized he was leaving, I kind of lost my shit (as any other woman in my position would, I’m sure). All these what-ifs started racing though my mind like, “What if we grow apart? What if we start arguing a lot? What if we fall out of love? What if he meets someone? What if I meet someone?” Now that the information has had a chance to settle in my brain, I’m starting to get used to the idea. One half of me believes in what we have, and believes we can survive this trial; the other half realizes that if we don’t survive, it will also be more or less okay. Either way, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Rene and I am so, so proud of this amazing accomplishment. I know he’s going to have the time of his life, and I’m truly happy for him.
Prom pose in front of our current home
When I was younger, I looked at life as a linear journey, with one life phase flowing smoothly into the next. But as I got older and some unexpected curveballs were thrown my way, I began to realize that life happens in chapters – some with endings that can’t be neatly tied up in a bow, or even rationalized. In this way, life keeps us on our toes. After each chapter there is a lesson, something that makes us stronger, makes us realize something we couldn’t have known otherwise. If Rene and I survive this new chapter of our relationship, my hope is that we turn out stronger and more in love than ever.
While Rene is living up there in snow-land, I’ll be living in South Brooklyn again, in a neighborhood closer to my family and friends, which I’m hoping will give me much-needed comfort. Serendipitously, my best friend Sofya’s lease was up for renewal the exact same month Rene is leaving, so the two of us will be shacking up for pillow fights, reruns of Gilmore Girls, and the braiding of each other’s hair (just kidding, I’ll probably just be sulking while we drink boxed wine). I’ll also be freed up to dedicate lots of time to this blog, more events like these, and hopefully other exciting stuff.
The one good thing I’m looking forward to is missing Rene. Now that our time together will be limited (we hope to go see each other every two weeks), every moment will be cherished again, just like in the beginning. And, we’ll have way less opportunities to get mad at each other for not doing the dishes or cleaning the apartment.
Please excuse me in advance if I get insufferably mushy in the coming months. I promise to do my best not to. Keep you posted… -Alex
Photos by Young-Jei Oh