Going The Distance

"Long distance." I'm fairly certain the only two words in the English language that I despise more are "group project." Or perhaps "dentist appointment." Some days, "Marine Corps" or "gas prices" make the list, but nonetheless, "long distance" always ranks right up there near the top.

When Zach and I started dating, we knew we were going to be in a long distance relationship for an indefinite amount of time. I'm not going to pretend like we thought it'd be fun or ideal, because I promise you there is nothing fun or ideal about waking up each morning and knowing that you get to go through the entire day without seeing your best friend. But overall, we've been rather fortunate. Apart from Mojave Viper training out in California and... you know... the whole deployment to Afghanistan thing, Zach has always been stationed/conducted training somewhere on the East Coast (Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Fort Pickett, Camp Lejeune, Camp Geiger, & Parris Island, whew!). Most of the time, we're able to see each other at least one weekend a month. Sometimes, we have to go two or three months straight without being together, but then sometimes life gets crazy awesome and we get to see each other like, three Saturdays in a row :)

Easter 2012

This time last year, Zach and I were less than a month away from the beginning of his deployment to Afghanistan... and although neither of us realized it, there was a lot of emotional/mental prep that led up to spending the majority of the year apart. Truthfully, I think we handled ourselves pretty well. No, it wasn't the most fun thing I've ever done, and no, it's not something that I'd want to do again. However, there weren't any full-fledged breakdowns or sob sessions. We knew exactly how long we had to be apart and exactly how many days until we'd be together again. We had spent a long time psyching ourselves up for life until that glorious homecoming date... and we most definitely made it...

...but we weren't together again.

At least, not for good. Oh, yes, there was a glorious homecoming with lots of pictures and hugs and smiles and all-is-finally-right-with-the-world feelings. But three days later, we were back to being in a long distance relationship... and that's something that neither of us were prepared for.

It seems rather obvious, now: of course we would still be in a long distance relationship -- he was still in the Marine Corps and I was still in school. But I'm serious: the thought had never crossed our minds. We had both been so focused on just making it through the deployment that neither of us stopped to consider what our lives would be like after he got back... or how insanely hard it would be to continue being in a long distance relationship, even if there was no longer an entire ocean factored into things.

I promise we really took three separate photos. We'll work harder to switch up the poses & expressions.

It's crazy, right? We did the whole "long distance" thing for nearly three years before he deployed; it should be easy to do it for another year after he gets back, no?

With all of that being said, the past few months haven't been easy. Don't get me wrong: I'd rather be in a long distance relationship with Zach than be in a normal relationship with anyone else. But at the same time, we're both so beyond ready for our turn at a non-long distance relationship, and the deployment seems to have intensified these sentiments. It's just not as much fun living completely separate lives and filling each other in right before we pass out every night.

So, yes. I would love nothing more than to have the number of "wanna meet up for lunch?" texts in my inbox exceed the number of "I miss you"s. (Let's be honest: I would pee my pants if we were ever able to just meet up for lunch, period). But until that glorious day decides to roll around, Zach and I have been left with the seemingly impossible task of coming up with some solution to the whole "we-are-so-over-being-apart-all-the-fruit-looping-time" issue.

It's a good thing we're pretty creative :)

I mentioned in a previous post that Zach and I were working on some sort of a collaborative project, and we're super excited to share it with you today. Granted, it's not that big of a deal and it's probably not nearly as exciting to other people as it is to us. But still. It's ours & it's something that we have begun to look forward to doing "together, but not here" (Camp Bethel shoutout, yeah) each day :)

We've titled it the "xxxx days & counting" project, with "xxxx" representing the exorbitant amount of days we've been doing the whole long distance thing. Currently, we're on day 1390, but that is neither here nor there.

Together, we've set up a Tumblr account and we've been following the whole #photoaday Instagram fad. (Absolutely no part of that sentence could have existed five years ago. #mindblown). Basically, we have a different word each day that we try to capture using our cell phone cameras. We don't upload our pictures onto Instagram, however; we upload them to the little blog that we've created. Zach's pictures go on the left, and my pictures go on the right:

Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to explain what a fun little game this has become for us. First of all, it gives us a window into each other's lives and makes it feel like we're a bit more connected, even when we're apart all the time. Secondly, it's actually rather exciting to wake up and look at the new word for the day. I'm not even kidding. It's exciting to figure out what picture I am going to take, and it's exciting to think about what picture Zach might take. Sometimes, I know him well enough that I know exactly what his picture will look like before he uploads it. Sometimes, he completely surprises me.

Thirdly, it's fascinating (and sometimes hysterical... refer to the March 28th photos) to see our pictures, our worlds, juxtaposed side by side. Sometimes, they're very "typically military" and "typically college." Sometimes, they're much more indicative of our personalities or interests. Sometimes, they're eerily similar, and sometimes... they couldn't be more different.

As a little side note, it's also become a little game between the two of us as far as "whose picture of the day is better?" Gotta love anything that can be turned into a competition ;) If you were curious, I clearly won yesterday's "flower" photo, while Zach took home the gold the day before with "sunset."

And that, my friends, is how Zach and I are currently beating the long distance relationship blues :) Like I said, it's not really that big of a deal, but it has been pretty fun for both of us. If you wanna check out all of our pics so far, you can click HERE (just be aware that the whole side-by-side, two-column thing doesn't work on mobile devices).

If you do take the time to scroll through them, I'm super curious to know the following (just leave a comment on this post):

1. Which day is your favorite?
I personally have a seven-way tie for every day between March 27th & April 2nd. Just call me Miss Decisive :)

2. Do you have any ideas for a "word of the day?"
We typically follow the Instagram-inspired list, but every once in a while, we mix it up and throw in our own.
(You have to admit, "freckles" was too good to pass up!)

Happy Tuesday! If you get to see your best friend today, give them an extra hug!
And if you don't... well, the photo for today just so happens to be "something you don't like." :)