It was a snow day in January when I logged onto PenPal World to see a message from a girl named Katie. Katie was a beautiful 15 year old from Massachusetts, far from my state of New Jersey for a teenager to travel. But I decided it was worth responding. We had an instant connection in our personalities and sense humor. From that day on, we talked for hours nearly every day, learning just how similar we are and how we are what each other needs. The conversations we had were always fulfilling, laughs and smiles from every word. I knew from all of that, I had feelings for her. I was afraid of what a long distance commitment would mean for us if we decided to pursue one. Distance, acceptance of our friends and family, visits, all of it. However, in late August, before I left for band camp, we skyped for the first time and it had lasted all night. I’ll never forget smiling and nervously laughing in seeing each other face to face in real time for the first time ever. From there we skyped every single night and our feelings for each other only grew stronger. They grew so undeniably strong that we decided to share them with each other. I realized that although she may be far away, she was the only girl for me - the only girl who I truly connected with. On September 2nd 2016, at ages 16 and 17, Katie and I decided to take a leap of faith and consider ourselves officially a couple.
However, we hadn’t met yet. Thankfully, I had a marching band competition out of state, not in Massachusetts but Connecticut, not as close as I wanted but it was hours closer to Katie than New Jersey. So I invited her down, nervous that maybe this wasn’t what it seemed, as if it was too good to be true. What if we didn’t have the same connection in real life? What if the distance was too hard to manage, too big of an obstacle to overcome?
On November 5th 2016, ten months after our first conversation, she managed to make it out to Connecticut. Suddenly, everything between us got more real and the first time we caught each other’s gazes, her eyes lit up and she smiled brighter than I had ever seen her smile. Our first kiss was unforgettable, complete magic as it showed our connection and how long we had been waiting for that very moment. In that moment, I knew that it was worth the distance. Our connection was too strong and our personalities fit too well together to confine ourselves to being just friends. Being with her and talking to her just felt so natural, as if we had been together for years. Neither of us had had such a strong connection with anyone else.
Little by little we began telling family and friends of our relationship and surprisingly received nothing but support. However, we were warned that a long distance relationship is not easy to maintain and that given our ages, visiting each other would be difficult to arrange through school and our work schedules as well as other obligations. But, to us, it was worth every struggle.
Finally, on December 27th that same year, we got to see each other again, once again meeting in Connecticut. Together we spent the day at Mystic aquarium. Not having the distance between us for even a mere two days made me realize that being with her is something I wouldn't trade for the world, even with distance. For just two days we got to feel like a somewhat normal teenage couple and it was amazing, unforgettable. But as those two days came to a close, reality began to set in. We didn't know when we would get to see each other next. We had known that this was the way things would be but in kissing her goodbye and walking back to our respective cars to go back to our home states, the reality of what being long distance would involve truly set in. Being together would always involve the heartbreak of knowing our time together is short and that we may not see each other again for months. For all long distance friends and couples, that is a difficult thing to accept, but at such young ages and with busy schedules, we knew that in being together, we were accepting this as our reality for years to come.
We're now 18 and 17, over a year and a half of knowing each other and over 10 months of being a couple. We attended each other's proms, met each other's friends and families and have learned to better cope with our distance through having Skype date nights and sending each other sweet messages to wake up to. However, we both know that the little things we do to improve our relationship will never be as helpful as living closer to each other would be. Often, we find ourselves missing out on attending important events and milestones in each other's lives such as my graduation and Katie's band concerts and competitions. There have been so many moments of, “I wish I were there… I'd be with you if I could be… If only I could just give you a hug.” Sending a text or a call or even skyping can never fully convey the, “I'm here with you even when I'm not,” that touch gives. Receiving a set of Bond Touch bracelets would allow us to feel that connection, even when we're not physically together.