I met my boyfriend while waiting tables in May 2011. He was one of the neediest guests I’ve ever had, but after a short conversation with him, he assured me it was only to capture my attention. After he visited me frequently at work, I finally agreed to a date. I didn’t know he was on leave from the Army, so our blissful summer hit a speed bump. We pushed through and survived many deployments, even during the holidays. Long-distance relationships are always the hardest during the holidays, especially serotonin-filled Valentine’s Day.
Many traditions are associated with Valentine’s Day, such as candlelit dinners, romantic movies and chocolate covered-strawberries. But what about couples who cannot share in these moments because of distance?
When my boyfriend was serving in Afghanistan, my day-to-day routine consisted of checking my email and iPhone for messages from him.
Living in different time zones made catching each other difficult. So was planning any face-to-face time on Skype because of his unpredictable schedule.
At times, I would be in the middle of studying for an exam when a notification popped up on my screen causing me to stop whatever I was doing and talk to him because I never knew when I would have the chance again. Birthdays and winter holidays were easier because I was surrounded by friends and family, but that wasn’t the case with the holiday I’ve learned to dread.
Everywhere I looked, the world was painted in reds and pinks, and women flashed their newly gifted jewelry, stuffed animals and chocolates. I couldn’t escape it. I was constantly reminded that I was alone. I felt abandoned.
Working as a waitress and bartender made things even worse. Couples were constantly sharing intimate moments and exchanging words of adoration over a romantic dinner.
Luckily for my relationship, we live in a time of constant technological innovation where communicating with someone halfway across the world is now possible through Skype, Face Time, email or Snapchat.
Through the use of these technologies, I found a way to spend Valentine’s Day 2013 with my significant other. We planned a Skype video chat somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m.
After work that night, I dressed to the nines and decorated the room with candles, streamers and balloons. Then I waited. And waited.
By 4 a.m. I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get the chance to spend the time I wanted with him so I became creative and made a Valentine’s Day video greeting card. In it I talked about my day, how I felt about him and how the small things in our relationship had gotten us to that moment in life.
Although he was not able to chat, I sent the video card by 6 a.m. I was proud that I did not allow myself to sink in loneliness and used my creativity for an alternative Valentine’s Day for my long-distance relationship by following a few simple rules.
Think outside the box because sometimes the gift your significant other would rather have than material gifts is the knowledge that you are the only thing on their mind that day.
Be thankful for what you get because although this is one of the biggest consumer driven holidays, it is all about love in the end.
I started to feel gleeful as I reminded myself how truly happy I was having someone like him in my life, and I learned that I shouldn’t define our entire love for each other on just one day — even if it is Valentine’s Day.