On Long Distance Love

Life’s been pretty unsettled lately, which seems rich coming from me.

A year ago I was traveling through Cambodia, on my way to Thailand, then Laos. Eight months ago I was living in the US, starting out as a freelancer, and spending time with family. Settled is never a word people are going to use to describe my life.

Yet, for the last six months, I’ve been living mostly in the UK. Okay, there was the month in Denmark, two weeks in Paris, and a week in Ireland in between, but I’ve left my good shoes in a closet in South Yorkshire for most of 2016.

The thing is, this wasn’t really the plan. I mean, there wasn’t really a plan, but the non-plan didn’t really include living in the UK for six months. It just sort of happened. Luke enrolled in a course at the last minute, we wanted to save a bit of money by staying in one place, we enjoyed the solitude of the countryside.

The part of this new plan that I never really planned for was the fact that I can only stay in the UK for six months. But Luke’s course isn’t over yet. You can see where I’m going with this.

international couples

I have to leave.

I think most people see this as normal for us.

“You guys are pros at this,” someone said to me the other day.

“Back to having an ocean between you. You guys must be so good at Skype,” another person said.

It’s been six years since Luke and I have done the long distance thing. We spent nine months apart with nothing but phone calls, texts, and the occasional snail mail to keep us going. When we moved to New Zealand in 2010 we vowed to never put ourselves through that again.

And until now, we’ve managed to do just that. With every new move we’ve ensured it’s a place we can both acquire visas.  With every new country, countless hours of paperwork have followed. We have a ‘relationship portfolio’ full of everything that proves that we’ve been together since 2008 to make visa applications easier.

Imagine quantifying your love with a few bank account slips, ticket stubs, and printed emails?

We’ve worked really hard to make sure we don’t have to wonder when we’re going to see each other again or how we’re going to make it happen.

So to have to leave because of our lack of planning, to be apart again after all we’ve done to avoid it, feels a bit like failing.

long distance love

Even though it’s “just for a month” and “it’s not a big deal,” it feels like a big deal.

All those same emotions come streaming back. Those heart-aching, chest tightening times when we had to say goodbye at the airport wondering when we might hold hands again, when we might be able to be together without bureaucracy coming between us.

I’m packing my bags today. I’m doing it slowly, like a petulant child, throwing things in with little effort or care for how they’re going to look when I take them out at the other end. As always, I’m trying to fit months worth of living into a 20kg baggage allowance and I’m really not having any fun doing it.

We’re going to spend the day out tomorrow. We’ll eat at my favorite Sheffield spots, do some last minute shopping at Primark (seriously when is the one in the US going to open?), and pretend like I’m not getting on a plane on Saturday morning.

I know I’ll get to JFK and be so happy to see my parents waiting for me. My mother and I will no doubt start to cry (what can I say, we’re emotional people). I have a new niece who’s due to enter the world any day now and I cannot wait to meet her. I have friends to catch up with and weddings to attend. I know the month will fly by and before I even realize it we’ll be back together in a new foreign land starting this whole adventure over again.

long distance relationships

It’s the goodbye that I hate. The waiting, the knowing, the anxiety of the buildup of it all. Part of me hates our countries for making international relationships so difficult, so expensive. Mostly though, I know it’s my fault for not planning, not realizing the inevitable.

I’m so used to being foreigners together, that I sort of forgot that his home can never be mine.

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