Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Sex and the SUNY: Love is a battlefield

I lie awake in my queen-sized bed, staring into darkness. Instinct tells me to stay on the left side. I stretch out, reaching for that prickly beard –– nothing. Drifting in and out of sleep, my mind reassures me of the truth: “He’s not here.”
It’s nothing new.

My story is one of fighting for what you want. It’s a story of a daily struggle. At 17 years old, I fell in love — just in time for him to go away to college. I can remember the first day he was gone. You would have thought that he was halfway across the world, not just three hours north.

To say the least, I spent many a night weeping under my covers.

It was a tough, lonely year. I was a teenage girl, so of course I was “heartbroken.” It’s hard to get a grip on yourself when you’re young and in love.

The year, to my surprise, ended. Then I went away to college, two hours away from him — progress. I continued to revolve my schedule around phone calls, text messages and long drives. I found myself staying up all night wondering what the future held for us and if we would ever catch a break.

Each short visit served as a painful tease to what love could be like. I spent a lot of time alone that year, surrounded by people but always missing him.

After two years of tearful goodbyes, I transferred to Plattsburgh State instead of journeying to UAlbany. Ultimately, it ended up coming down to the school’s programs (what the decision should actually be about). I had scars from the long-distance experience, but choosing the school my boyfriend was at wouldn’t be one of them.

We spent the next two years making up for lost time. Waking up next him and limited tears are seemingly small feats, but to me, it meant the world.

Two years of loneliness and hard good-byes were finally in the rearview mirror — that is, until he graduated. Being a year older than me, we knew it would happen. He would head back to our hometown, and I would take the three-hour drive back to PSUC.

I’ve found that you can be flawed but be perfect for another person. The only problem in our relationship is that we’re separated by distance.

Thankfully, I have a collection of sad playlists for the long drive home, a packed schedule to keep me busy and a more confident outlook as we begin to near our five-year anniversary.

When I graduate, we’ll have the opportunity to build a life together. Most 30-year-olds don’t even do that. We’re in the fast lane, and it’s terrifying. Occasionally the thought of uncertainty creeps into my brain because, as history serves, the universe likes to drive a stake into my happiness.

They say everything happens for a reason. I can’t help but think about how ironic it is. We defeat the obstacles in our way to get to somewhere beautiful and happy, only to have it ripped out beneath our feet. I’m curious to know when the curveballs will stop being thrown, or if they ever do.

I’ve heard the term “fairy-tale romance” thrown in our direction. Let me be clear: We are far from a prince sweeping a princess off of her feet. Love is a battlefield, my friends, and we are just warriors fighting for what we believe in.

But I will continue to collect memories when they’re gifted, daydream about little blond kids on mountain bikes and a house with a garden. Being the hopeless romantic with a touch of cynicism, I will also hold onto this new thing I’ve found.
I think it’s called reality.

Email Brittany Shew at

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