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Today, October 23rd, marks the 27th month since Ashley and I first began our relationship. Since July 2016, Ashley and I have been in a long distance relationship, stretching from Houston, where I lived, to the small town near Los Angeles where Ashley lived (the name is Corona, but it has nothing to do with the alcoholic beverage. I have been there, and I can confirm this). The total distance between our two locations was 1408 miles. For the better part of two years, we had an incredible relationship together: we texted every day, and we were able to video call about two to three times a week.

So naturally, as all long distance relationships work, Ashley decided to decrease the distance between us to 10,040 miles.

But to be completely honest and all jokes aside, the distance didn’t seem to be an issue at first. Of course I was upset by the distance, BUT IMMENSELY PROUD that Ashley was able to go and experience a whole new culture, and go on so many incredible adventures. As the summer went on, I was able to adjust to this new mindset, we figured out some small ways that we would make things work while she was away for the year.

But alas, the day before my classes started at UT Austin, as I was waiting for a presentation from the school president, I got a call from Ashley letting me know that for the first four weeks, she would not have her phone on her while she travels through Indonesia. This was a huge shakeup in my life because as I mentioned earlier, there hasn’t been a single day since the day I met Ashley where I haven’t talked to her.

Those four weeks ended up being strangely easy at the beginning: I guess it was just learning all the new information in my classes and adjusting to college life. Yet there are days where I would immensely miss hearing her familiar voice and someone I could rely on. On days like that, I would aimlessly walk around the 50,000 person campus feeling incredibly alone, regardless of the friends I’ve made and the support I had on campus. One of the greatest gifts I received on my birthday (September 16th) was a small email from Ashley just wishing me a happy birthday and things have been going well. Whoever let Ashley use their phone that day, thank you so much.

After Ashley received her phone back, I had completely reasonable expectations: updates from her daily, a video call every few days to catch up, regular conversation before she falls asleep, and I shouldn’t even finish this sentence for you to understand that I was in fact, very unreasonable. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when I had very little time with Ashley and so much less than I expected, but it honestly did. I would not focus on the time we had together, but rather how little time we had. Quarrels that could have been solved in a matter of minutes would stretch on for days due to time zones and lack of time. Our conversations became more 2D rather than the unique and personal ones we had. For two weeks after Ashley got her phone back, I became more upset than relieved, and it felt as if the two years of familiarity and comfort I had in our relationship seemed to be slipping away.

But alas, through a big metaphorical slap in the face by my close friends, I came to a big realization: if I keep focusing on these negative aspects and keep pushing for more time together, neither of us will be happy. I need to pull away from trying to force everything into place, and just be happy with what happens. From that point onwards, it seemed as if a switch has been flipped on life: our time together, although less, fell back into a new yet familiar routine of silly conversations, a support system, and listening to each others stories. Two days ago was our first video call that lasted for longer than 15 minutes since Ashley left to Yogyakarta, and I couldn’t have been more happier. We’re getting better, and as long as she’s happy, then I’ll be happy.

To all those who are missing their kids/family who are in Indonesia, I hope we can all understand that this is difficult for them, not just us. And that they are doing all they can to make time for us as well as do the incredible amount of work and time that they are doing. This year and seeing them again will be so rewarding, and you’ll be forever proud of what these kids have done. Focus on the time you are able to talk to them, rather than the difficulties of them being so far away and the 12 hour time zone. It will make things so much easier, I promise.

To those in Bridge, keep writing incredible Yaks! It’s always a pleasure reading all of y’alls stories. I hope to hear from you all soon, and hopefully meet you guys if I come up to visit next year. Also, don’t forget about all of us back home! Man, I really sound like a 45-year-old dad, not like an 18-year-old. We’re the same age. Oof. Regardless, make sure you all have fun and stay safe!

This entry titled is inspired by the song Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie, a staple song in my musical rotation for the past month or so. The song talks about the frustrations of long distance, with the repeated lines “I need you so much closer”  throughout  Ashley, I’m never going to stop counting down the months until I see you again, and I do need you a lot closer than 10,000 miles, but I know you’re having an incredible time and are gaining experiences that will help you grow. Thank you for sticking with me for 27 months, especially the last two. I know it’s been hard on you as well, but we’ll make it through. Just come back as soon as you can I miss you :’) Much love.

This will be my sixth time writing this entry, so I apologize if there are moments of awkward pauses or my sentences go on forever. I hope you enjoyed reading this small snippet of the big picture of life.