"It's better to be long distance, than not have him it all." She must have repeated those words to herself a hundred times as the plane took her away from him. She said it over and over to erase the memory of his tears as they said goodbye, and as she cried herself to sleep that first night, trying not to wake up her roommate.
She had had one goal her whole life, to be a star. It's the only dream she's even known, since she was old enough to know what it meant. It's the only thing she's been her whole life, even if it was only in her fathers eyes for the most part. She's finally in New York, she's finally where she wants to be. And yet, she's still alone. She knows it's going to be hard, but she's so close, she can't give up now. Even if it feels like she's left her heart hundreds of miles away. All she's ever wanted to do is leave Lima, Ohio and sing on Broadway and she's halfway to that goal.
She settles into her new life, her classes and her dorm. She's never made friends easily and she's not surprised it's no different here. She loves her classes and they are easy, because she already knows so much about singing and acting. She can't help feeling that everyday is a competition, a race to make sure she is noticed more than the others. She has to succeed, she has to be the best. Otherwise, she's afraid it won't be worth what she's given up to be here.
She holds on to her cell phone like a lifeline, waiting for his texts and calls. She needs him and she hates that, because he's taking her head out of the game. She's always wanted to be a star in New York City, and she's missing him so much, it all feels flat without him. Her dads say she sounds sad when they call her on the phone. They ask her about the city and she realizes, she's spent so much time on the phone and the computer talking to him, she's barely seen any of the city. She hardly knows her roommates and she hasn't done any of the things she's being planning to do her whole life. They sound disappointed in her and hope she isn't letting a boy get in the way of her dreams. She promises to focus more and she hopes she can keep the promise.
She's scrolling through Facebook pictures, he's posted pictures of the college apartment he's sharing with Puck and Mike. She's trying to ignore the pangs of jealousy she feels when she sees Tina and Quinn tagged in the pictures. It's hard though, when she clicks again and there's a photo of him with his arm around Quinn at a football game. She knows they're just friends, but she can't help but wish she were the one laughing with him there. And then she's mad at herself, because she finally has everything she's ever wanted. And it's enough. It has to be. That night she doesn't text him back, she asks her roommates if she can go out with them. And she has fun. She does.
She tries to only text him once a day. She tells him she's busy, she's auditioning and then rehearsing for the drama department play. She doesn't say she's only the role of Townsperson #1. She knows she's only a Freshman, but she's not used to trying so hard and still not winning. She stays off Facebook, because the happy lives of her friends are only helping to emphasize how unhappy she is. Her dads come to see her in the play and they celebrate like she was the lead. She shows them all around "her" New York, and they are proud of how happy she seems. They take her home for the Winter break. He is waiting for her when she gets off the plane and she's in his arms almost before he sees her. She kisses him and she knows she hasn't felt more like herself in months.
They spend the whole break together, and it's almost like they were never apart. But he knows her and he knows she isn't telling him everything. He can feel her holding back. He knows she's slipping away. She's holding everything inside trying to keep from falling apart. She knows she would drop everything for him, if he asked, and she's praying he's strong enough to not ask. He doesn't want to fight, when they have so little time together. So he just holds her when she cries on New Year's Eve and they make love like it might be the last time. She wants to tell her dads she doesn't want to go back. But she sits in a house, surrounded by trophies from pagents and dance contests and singing contests and even Glee Club, and she thinks about how much they have sacrificed and given up to get her to this point and she can't do it.
Finn comes to take her to the airport. It's snowing a little and they are huddled together to say goodbye. She has been awake all night, dreading this moment. But she has to go back. He kisses her and presses something into her hand. It's a box. He says, "I know it's not big enough, but I love you. I want you to know that I'm waiting for you and we'll be together at the end. Please marry me?" And she wants to say yes, so badly, but she knows she can't do this anymore. She tucks the box into the pocket of his coat. "We can't do this anymore. I'm not strong enough. It's better this way." And she runs into the airport, hating herself. Her last image of him standing in the snow, tears running down his face will haunt her for a long time.