Tuesday, August 30, 2016

7 Little Things To Make Long Distance Suck Less

My experiences on the Why I Farm Roadtrip have impacted every part of my life. I'm thankful this trip has challenged me and grown me in so many ways. That being said, the growing process isn't always fun. After seeing my boyfriend, Ryan, nearly every day for two years at Iowa State, a long distance relationship has certainly been an adjustment. I don't think it will ever become easy to be apart, but here are a few things that have made long distance suck a little less.

1. Skype and screen share - My favorite way to end a day on the road is Skyping Ryan. Whether it's touring his new apartment, showing him some cool photos I took, or just seeing his face as we catch up, video calling has made traveling lots easier. I've spent several evenings in a McDonald's parking lot cuddled with a blanket in the back of my rental van watching movies with Ryan and it's the highlight of my day. It's the little things in life, right?

Here's a quick Skype screen share 101: Unless you have unlimited data, be sure to find somewhere with wifi. If you get a spot close enough to the building, you can still get a strong connection in most McDonald's or Starbucks parking lots, even after they close. Pull up whatever you're wanting to share on your laptop. It can be anything - Netflix, photos, or a DVD. Start the Skype call. Once you're connected, click 'Call' on the menu bar and then 'Share Screens...' in the drop down that appears. Confirm you want to start sharing screens and ta-da! 

2. Learn each other's schedules - When Ryan and I were both at Iowa State, we naturally learned each other's schedules. I don't ever remember making a point to memorize his routine, but it happened. At the beginning of my travels I would call randomly, without much thought to what he might be doing. It seemed I always called at a bad time. Honestly, I took it personally at first. It felt like he didn't want to talk to me. I had to realize, just like I couldn't drop what I was doing every time he called me, life was still happening for him. Once we intentionally shared our schedules with one another, things got a lot easier. He knows I do #AgChat every Tuesday night and I know if I want to call him to say good morning, I better do it before his 8 AM class.

3. Share the little things - I didn't realize how big the little things were until I left. Things that we never talked about when we were in the same place like the weather, slow buses, or free food on campus actually matter. It took me a while to figure out that if I called and Ryan seemed 'mehhhh' it might just be a cloudy, gloomy day back in Iowa. He wasn't upset with me. In the same way, when I call and life at home is perfect without me, that doesn't mean he doesn't miss me. Chances are he just scored some free pizza. When you take two seconds to share the details that were obvious before, it's easier for both of you to see the big picture.

4. Don't forget about snail mail - A few months ago I had to mail Ryan a key for my house. I was really missing him so tucked in a little note with knock knock jokes and silly doodles. He loved it! No one gets fun mail anymore. For less than 50 cents, a postcard or note is a pretty cheap way to brighten someone's day.

5. Remember texts are just text - I took so much for granted when we could talk face to face. So much of what you say is communicated through your facial expressions and tone of voice. When you don't have those clues, it's easy to take 'Why' as 'Why the heck would you do that?' instead of 'Why? (I'm curious, tell me more.)' Don't read into more than what is on the screen. If you're talking about something important, make time for a phone call.

6. Collect (meaningful) souvenirs for them - I love it when I visit a place and find something that reminds me of Ryan. I try to pick up affordable little souvenirs as I travel so he can experience some of what I'm seeing. Don't guilt yourself into buying trinkets like key chains and shot glasses everywhere you go. Hold out for something that's personal and they'll actually use. So far, I've picked up dips and sauces from some of the farms I've visited and couple t-shirts I knew he'd love.

7. Make time to hang out - One of the things I miss the most is just sitting and hanging out. When we were both in Ames, we spent a lot of time doing our own projects in the same room, not even talking. I'd work on my blog, he'd do homework. When we still have our own things to do, I can FaceTime him, prop my phone up on the corner of my laptop and blog away. He can play video games, I can be productive. When I can't figure out how to word a sentence I can run it past him and when he makes an awesome kill, he can tell me all about it. Bonus: He calls me out when I have work to do, but get distracted or sidetracked.

Our relationship is far from perfect and we've still got at least nine months of long distance to go. I'm excited to keep learning about myself and others, even if the lessons aren't always fun. In the mean time, I hope this list helps your long distance relationship suck a little less. Thanks for reading!

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