Day #1500

I wish someone would have told me that the 5 weeks that Zach and I dated during summer camp 2008 would be the only opportunity I would have to hug him every day for an entire week before we got married four and a half years later.

If so, I probably wouldn't have been so strict about avoiding each other during the camp week ;)

But unfortunately, I had no idea. I had no idea that summer would end up being 2% of our dating relationship, with the remaining 98% that followed being long distance.

How crazy is that?

Apart from the very first five weeks of dating, Zach and I have never lived in the same city. We've never shared a zip code; we've never even shared an area code. We have spent some time living in the same state, but we've also spent a great deal of time living in separate states... and separate time zones/countries/hemispheres.

Because I'm a math geek at heart, I can tell you on any given day during the past 4+ years, the average number of miles that has separated us has been 1,147. I've kept track of the trips we have made to see each other during that time, and combined, we've driven over 37,000 miles: enough to completely circle the globe one and a half times.

And today is day #1500 of our long distance relationship.

1500 days. There should be some law against living hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from your best friend for that long.

But there's not, and it happened. And it's going to keep happening for the rest of this year. In the meantime, I thought about listing all the pros of a long distance relationship. For example, Friday night phone dates don't require make-up. And there are always the epic first kiss moments after time spent apart:

Boot Camp Graduation, Parris Island, April 2009 | Afghanistan Deployment Homecoming, Camp Lejeune, December 2011

...but I wouldn't be fooling anybody. There are infinitely more cons than pros. For every epic first kiss, there's a gut-wrenching good-bye. And I would not complain in the slightest if I had the chance to go on a real Friday night date that required make-up.

However, Zach and I made the decision quite some time ago to play the hand we were dealt, and if that included 1500+ days of being in a long distance relationship, then bring it on :) We each chased our dreams, his of becoming a Marine and mine of becoming a Duke graduate. I've discovered that our situation is incredibly rare: college students don't spend all four years in a long distance relationship; they're supposed to be out "enjoying college," whatever that entails. And enlisted Marines don't spend all four years in a long distance relationship; they're supposed to get married ASAP so they get paid more and don't have to live in the barracks (sad, but true).

Yet here we are, 1500 days later :)

I've learned quite a bit during my 1500 days of long distance dating. I'm not sure if absence really makes the heart grow fonder, but I do know that it's possible to reach a point where you're about as fond of one another as you could possibly be... and then absence just makes you crazy :) I know that the good-byes never get any easier. And I know that after all is said and done, I will never ever ever utter the phrase "oh, it's not that bad!" when talking to someone else in a long distance relationship.

My mom and I always laugh about those people. They ask "how far away is he?" or "how long has it been since you've seen him?" It doesn't matter what the answer is: "4 hours, 8 hours, it-doesn't-matter-how-many-hours-because-it's-physically-impossible-for-me-to-travel-to-where-he-is" or "3 months, 5 months, 7 months..." --- they instantly respond with "oh, that's not so bad!" I would love for someone to enlighten me as to what distance or amount of time would merit a "well, that sucks." I'm convinced I could tell someone that Zach and I were going to spend the next seven years without seeing each other once, and I'd still get a "oh, that's not so bad" in response. So consider this your friendly little PSA, blog world. I know that deep down, you want to make things better. But your "that's not so bad" is entirely not helpful. No one is in need of being consoled here, so just call it like it is.

So... I can check "be in a long distance relationship for 1500 days" off the bucket list. If I could go back in time, would I do it all again? Eh, probably... I kinda like the kid ;) But am I super grateful that I don't have to? Oh, for sure! I'm so incredibly glad that the number of days until Zach & I don't have to say good-bye any more are ticking away. In the meantime, I know you're about to leave some comment about how we're "so close!" and it's "almost over!"... so just use a little self-control & go re-read that friendly little PSA ;)