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E is for Everything
A home for design, media, policy, life and everything in between.
Living long distance: The space between here and where we want to be
One of the hardest parts of moving back to the West Coast was leaving my partner behind. Each day is a day partially lived, and being around other couples feels like chewing on nails. You spend the entire time wondering what your own partner is up to, how they’re doing and whether they miss you. It's pretty excruciating. Well, it is for me at least. 

When you finally get the chance to connect and they tell you about their day, it's a jumble of names (for which you have to make up faces) and places (for which you imagine landmarks). Their life, no matter how well they describe it to you, is largely a mystery. 

When you need to address something sensitive, texts are more blunt than phone calls, and neither can make up for face-to-face conversation. A video call is too invasive somehow. When you haven’t seen someone for weeks or months on end, the last thing you want to do is have them staring at you through the warped lens of a laptop camera. 

Then there’s the question of travel. Who sees whom when and where? Do you go to where they live for free room and board, or do you both meet somewhere and grab a place. Do you join them on a work trip if they’re heading in your general direction or going somewhere you both might holiday, or do you leave them alone to focus and get their work done even though the loneliness is driving you to distraction? The calculus is mind numbing. 

Long distance relationships are not for the faint of heart or for those who seek to check the boxes of a so-called “life well lived". There are far easier ways to conduct a partnership, but once you’ve found someone worth crossing the country for and they greet you with open arms, other paths seem quaint.   

Today, with mobile devices, an all but ubiquitous internet and relatively cheap plane tickets, you can string together lines of communication with far greater fidelity than previous generations ever could. That being said, there are still those empty moments that stretch on for weeks at a time, leaving you lonely and filled with doubt.  

So, how does one get through it? At the most basic level, you live one day at a time. Thinking a week, a month or a year into the future will drive you mad. You can’t predict what will happen, and any prediction you make is likely to be wrong.  

A layer up from that is making peace with the cost. Yes, you will be buying plane tickets instead of other things you may want. Time spent alone will be painful, and time out with friends will feel like eating a chocolate bar filled with sawdust. Your friends will date, get married, have children and get a promotion all before you have seen your partner for 365 days in aggregate.  

You also learn to live with a different set of values. The picket fence, mini-van, designer dog and perfectly mid-sized home seem trite in the face of putting the puzzle pieces together for your next rendezvous. The Grand Prescription for Life starts to look worn and tattered, and the stress of work pales in comparison to the stress of missing a phone call after having not spoken to your partner for days.  

You get to know yourself a lot better. You realize that what you thought you wanted is far less interesting than what you stand to find. You begin to value people over destinations when you travel. If your loved one is in The Capital City of The Middle of Nowhere, suddenly that location becomes the most fascinating place on Earth.   

Most importantly, you see and feel keenly how precious time really is, and you stop taking it for granted. When you only have four days out of the month with someone you love, you want to simultaneously do the least while making the most of the time. You are constantly watching the clock tick down to the joy of reuniting or the pain of parting ways.  

There are an infinite number of ways to live, and a co-located partnership, much like happiness or wealth, is not guaranteed to any of us. While I would not recommend a long-distance relationship to everyone, it is possible, though not easy, to live a long-distance life well. 
"Creativity is to me the connective tissue between where we want to be and where we currently are." - Jason Mayden (the one person who always reminds me that the only thing standing between me, you or anyone and greatness is work, discipline and a great heart. If you have kids, this is the shoe for them. No, this is not an ad. Jason is just that good, and his mission to bring creativity and play into the life of every child is one I will never hesitate to spread.
"By presenting plausible alternative realities, science fiction stories empower us to confront not just what we think but also how we think and why we think it. They reveal how fragile the status quo is, and how malleable the future can be."
"As we get richer, measured productivity may inevitably slow, and measured GDP per capita may tell us ever less about trends in human welfare."
"You might want Channing Tatum to give you a tour of the Large Hadron Collider, but you probably wouldn’t trust him to find the Higgs boson."
"Scientists who study stress and resilience say it’s important to think of resilience as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened at any time."
Thank you for a great year...
It has been a year since I started 'E is for Everything'. A lot has changed in my life from the time I started until now. One could say I got knocked down. But, as the saying goes, it's not about getting knocked down. It's about getting back up. So, I'm slowly getting back up on my feet, and finally took my first payout from Patreon.

I wanted to wait until I had enough to really start making some changes -- design and otherwise -- with the newsletter. Now, I do. So, keep an eye out in the coming editions. In the meantime, thank you, as always to my two largest supporters: Natalya Pemberton & Tim Karu
These folks have generously supported E is for Everything on Patreon. Please jump on through to learn more about both them and their projects.
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Do you wish I'd shared something else? Please send me recommendations via Facebook, Twitter at @emikolawole, on Medium or reply directly to this e-mail. I will always and whenever possible give credit where it's due for great recommendations and inspiration. Have a great weekend!
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Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · San Jose California 95134 · USA
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