We're Elevate

What started as a side hustle for two creative, driven sisters has now become one of the Midwest’s premier event planning and design firms. At Elevate, we find pure, unbridled joy in celebrating all aspects of life - big moments, small gatherings and anything in between.

Surviving Long Distance Love

Hey, friends. Kirstie here. The topic of this blog has been on my mind for quite some time now. In fact, I promised myself awhile back that I would share this story “aloud,” (even if that meant via text on the interwebs) because I feel SO incredibly passionate about it. Plus, the wedding we helped with last weekend was a beautiful celebration of two sweet souls who dated long distance for awhile. The ceremony brought me to tears because I could so clearly relate to their story. So, I wanted to share my narrative of living through a long distance relationship; perhaps just so I can let out my feelings in a trustworthy forum, but also in the hope that somebody else out there relates to my story and finds a renewed sense of positivity regarding this delicate subject. Eek!! *Insert all the emotions…*

Four years ago, I would have told you that I could absolutely not be a part of a long distance relationship. I remember thinking that those people in relationships miles and miles apart were totally nuts (but of course, also incredibly inspirational). Little did I know that at that time, I, soon, would become one crazy half of a LDR. 

Back in October of 2012, I met a sweet boy named Jesse and he soon became my boyfriend (yes, I am Jesse’s girl and I go crazy every single time that song comes on – ask anyone who knows me). The story of how we met is actually quite charming but I’ll save that for another time. 🙂 All you really need to know is that we fell hard and fast, and then, dun dun dun. Can you guess what happens next? Jesse was graduating undergrad and off to chiropractic school in Davenport, Iowa (a 3.5 hour-long road trip) for the next THREE years.

I was obviously super pumped for him but also completely unsure of what to expect. I mean, no clue whatsoever. You can certainly bet that I had thoughts like, “what in the world are we doing?” or “I did NOT sign up for this.” Admittedly, I even questioned how this whole long distance thing was going to work because I had seen (and heard of) numerous long distance relationships failing for other couples. So, I thought about the choices I had: 1) Give up because of the difficulties ahead or 2) Face this challenge head on and kick its butt. As you could probably guess, I went with option 2 and haven’t looked backed since.

The first few months of the distance were okay because we still were excited about all the sudden “newness” we both were experiencing – he with new classes and friends, and me with my senior year approaching and rooming with my besties. I remember the surprise visits he made to La Crosse or the flowers and super sweet scavenger hunts he planted in my apartment for when I returned home from work. Those efforts made things exciting for us, and believe it or not, served as “perks” in our long distance relationship. We realized quickly on that we needed to go the extra mile to keep things afloat, and to keep the spark alive. 

One year into the LDR; however, things became much more difficult. I was getting acquainted with a new life in Madison and figuring out the so-called “real world” while Jesse was non-stop studying intense subjects like spinal anatomy and renal physiology. The fall season was quickly approaching and I was busy helping with the plans for Mal’s October wedding. Shortly after the new year (2015), Mallory and I were thrilled to have launched our new business (!!) but of course, a lot of stress, hard work and craziness came with that, too.  

Fortunately, Madison is an hour closer than the trip from La Crosse to Davenport and Jesse and I were seeing each other pretty consistently for a while – every two to three weeks or so. The weekends we got to see each other were absolutely crucial for our relationship. We could go from having a horrible week to the best, most revitalizing weekend ever, and it’s because I was able to physically BE with him, even if that meant sitting on the couch beside him while he had to get twenty minutes of studying in. I quickly learned how special those last 15 minutes were together before one of us would have to leave. But leaving him was never easy for me. Whether it was me walking to my car to head back home or watching him drive away, this agonizing feeling hit me EVERY TIME – basically, the feeling of your heart slowing being carved out by a butter knife. Even if I tried to hold back the tears, they poured out every. single. time. When Jesse knew I was hurting, he would always tell me, “everything will be okay.” And even when I struggled to believe it, I know he’s right. We’re still in this. Together. 

This past year; however, has been the most taxing yet. A LOT has happened, specifically in the last four months. Elevate has been blessed to go from 8 weddings our first season to 14 events (!!!) our second season and we are SO grateful for all of our wonderful clients – THANK YOU, by the way, a million times over. That’s not to say that it wasn’t challenging for us. This past summer has been go, go, go, then go some more. It was June, and then I blinked. On top of a full time day job and combining with a larger law firm, moving from my apartment to a new place, meetings, a few trips and weddings galore, Jesse and I approached an even bigger test in our relationship: him moving to Colorado for 3.5 months. 

I knew it was coming. I knew for at least half a year that he’d be packing up his life in Davenport into his truck and traveling west. But for so long, I didn’t want to admit to myself that he was leaving. When people would ask him about it, I would try to block it out and pretend it wasn’t reality. Even though we have been doing long distance for 3.5 years now, it was so difficult for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand how narrow-minded that might sound, and there’s no doubt that I had selfish thoughts about it, but more than anything else, I was worried. I was so scared that being 1,000 miles apart would ruin us. 

I’m not afraid to admit that I haven’t felt like my 100% self these last few months. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I know loving can hurt sometimes. How do you feel whole when the one person you want to share everything with is miles away, living their own life on an entirely different schedule? When phone and FaceTime conversations lessen and stress keeps building up, it takes a toll. For me, the hardest part about all of the stress is that I was beginning to feel like I was failing at our relationship. I have felt guilty for having negative thoughts and always being so frustrated and mad at our situation. Nothing bothers me more than having weekly breakdowns where I feel like I’ve had enough. However, when I think back on the insane rollercoaster ride I’ve been on, rather than giving up, it makes me want to fight even harder. I now know, first hand, how powerful EFFORT is in a relationship. I have experienced how easy it is to get caught up in the busyness of life, how negative thoughts affect relationships, and most importantly, how passionately confused you can feel about something/someone yet have no way to act on those feelings.

Now, I’m not a huge quote junkie or anything, but when Jesse and I first started dating long distance, I came across the quote below that I’ve reminded myself of in those dark moments when my heart is aching and I want nothing more than to be wrapped up in his arms: 

“Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough…” 

When I read that, I can’t help but think, “That’s right. This is us. We are bold. We are strong. We’ve struggled and been alone too many days and nights but we are doing this because we want this.” 

Every so often, I need to stop and take a few minutes to reflect on these past 3 crazy years and why we are totally insane for surviving a long distance relationship. I am so fortunate to have someone as patient, laid back and forgiving as Jesse. I cannot begin to describe HOW helpful (and necessary) his positive outlook has been throughout this entire journey of ours. Without his strength and straight-edged personality, I truly don’t think I could have done this. It’s amazing how one person can complement the other. I’ve always respected Jesse’s ability to not let things bother him. When I’m stuck in a rut, he tells me not worry because it won’t make the situation any better. Instead, he tells me to think about the future and how great it’s going to be. 

So, what’s the happy part in all of this, you may ask?! In just TWO short weeks, we will FINALLY be closing the gap on this long distance once and for all. Jesse is coming home and this time he’s staying put!!!!!!!!! Ah!! My excitement is through the roof, and actually, more like far beyond into outer-space. While Jesse is making the most out of his final two weeks in Colorado, I’m going to close out our amazing wedding season with a renewed passion for life, love and my man. 🙂 

Thinking of all you long distance lovers out there, past, present and future! I’m rooting for you and I PROMISE you that you can do it! Love, K.