He had my yearbook for a solid hour. As I watched him scribble endlessly with black Sharpie across the back page, I struggled to find words to put down in his. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything to say, but the probability of writing down what I considered to be the elephant in the room — a.k.a. the lounge our grad night took place in — outweighed anything else.

Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland

After eventually giving up and writing a short, sweet note and moving on to signing other yearbooks, Zach stood up, handed my book to my friend who had been waiting, and walked over to me.

“Don’t read what I wrote in your book. I want to talk to you about it on the bus first.”

Uh, alright. Throughout the following hours of signing yearbooks, eating sandwiches and getting temporary tattoos, Zach’s words loomed above my head. Grad night was fun, but I really just wanted to hear what he had to say once it was over.

Five o’clock hit: time to head back. Zach and I walked hand in hand to the bus and took the back seat behind all of our friends who deliriously snacked on candy and eventually passed out from exhaustion.

“I know it’s kind of early, but I wanted to figure this out as soon as possible … ”

Yep, here it is. The elephant was about to be addressed.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking about this, but I want to stay together through college. I love you, and breaking up with you would absolutely break my heart.”

Relief.

While we only dated for a few months before making decision to stay together, it felt right. I often consider Zach my best friend rather than my boyfriend, and I believe that’s the best mindset to have in a relationship. (Note: The only two other relationships I’ve had were in fifth grade and with my good friend, Huntington, who is gay. So maybe my insight is a little lacking.)

The summer of 2012 went by quickly. August came around and we both began perusing different paths in college: he at Washington University in St. Louis, me at the University of Michigan.

Although I missed him constantly, I found our long-distance relationship to really come in handy when it came to attending the almost-obligatory frat parties during freshman Welcome Week. (We’re in college now, guys!) With every frat boys’ terrifyingly disgusting pursuit, I easily and nonchalantly responded: “I have a boyfriend.” While the responses were usually mixed, it did serve as a great method to ward off testosterone-filled creepers.

As we both became more immersed in our lives at our respective schools, the time between visits became shorter and our ability to navigate social scenes and activities became easier. Yes, we still text constantly and Skype every so often, but the independence offered to each of us allows us to pursue what we’re passionate about.

Some of my friends who are in a relationship are perpetually glued to their significant others, making it impossible for them to interact with anyone else. Sure, I often imagine how great it would be if Zach were here. But I realize how much I’ve been able to progress navigating Michigan without my family, anyone else from my high school, and, yes, without my boyfriend.

As Daily columnist Emily Pittinos wrote recently, long-distance relationships might not be worth it. If you’re the kind of person who can’t navigate life without being led by the hand of your boyfriend or girlfriend, I’d refrain from engaging in a life like mine.

The distance remains between us, but the end goal looms in both of our minds. With the reassurance of what’s to come after school, I can truly explore Ann Arbor, which I consider a world of my own.

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