Over drinks with my good friend Anna on Tuesday night (hey, we’re seniors), we both experienced an epiphany: We had become the Sad and Lame Girls we used to mock.
All we could talk about was how much we missed our respective significant others, who both live in other cities. Up to this point, it had been our pride to avoid long-distance relationships while making fun of those in the frequent flyer set.
How had this happened? I had gone almost my entire college career as the Samantha of my wannabe “Sex and the City” clan, embodying the spirit of commitment-free love — in ideology if not in practice.
It’s worth mentioning that I could have taken off my shoe and thrown it repeatedly — with Vince Young-ian accuracy — at a crowd of males without hitting a potential suitor (theoretically; I’m not a maniac). Thankfully, now I can just take off my shoe and throw it (across the continent) at my boyfriend.
As my Samantha-esque self (minus Kim Cattrall’s body), I ridiculed without empathy those fools stuck in long-distance relationships. Having been in a long-distance relationship for the entire first week of my freshman year, I felt I was in a position to judge these Sad and Lame-lings. Holding a martini in one hand and Kleenex in the other, I listened disdainfully as some poor soul, newly dumped by his California love, sobbed his heart out about losing “the One.” I inwardly vowed never to be in his place. I’d never be a Sad and Lame Girl.
In my eyes, long distance-ers were headed for heartbreak while suffering along the way, unable to enjoy either freedom or each other’s company. What a waste! Going out, hooking up, walks of shame: these were seminal phases of my Yale experience. All those people staying in to talk to their sweethearts in Tulsa or Toronto were missing out. I was determined not to miss a major part of my college life waiting home for a phone call or going away every other weekend to see my boyfriend.
And yet. I’m a card-carrying member of Sad and Lame, and I couldn’t be happier. Even with the pain. And all those “experiences” I thought were so important in making me such an interesting and profound person? They were mostly just awkward and unfulfilling. (They did do a lot for my character, however, since pride swallowing is a remarkably good way to fortify one’s inner strength).
Though I never would have admitted it at the time, I spent time being pathetic in ways that had nothing to do with physical distance: I waited hopefully for the nonexistent phone call; I went home heartbroken from a disappointing party; I woke up lonely even with a person next to me. I wouldn’t trade those difficult times for the world, and they were greatly outweighed by the good times, but it was a mistake to think that planning my happiness would save me from inevitable heartaches.
I suppose I traded those sad and lame experiences in for a new set by embarking into the relationship equivalent of Dante’s Second Circle of Hell, but I found that it’s not without rewards: The dam of hormones and norepinephrine built on weeks (or months) of not seeing your partner that bursts at each reunion is … well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. I can assure you, it is neither sad nor lame.
And of course, don’t forget all those frequent flyer miles you’re earning.
Susan Posluszny isn’t afraid to be the woman who’ll walk a thousand miles before she’s at her boyfriend’s door.