Long distance relationships are incredibly difficult, especially if the distance is between TWO oceans and a massive continent. I lived in beautiful Hawaii for 6 years between 2006 - 2012 and during that time I managed to embark in a long distance relationship with a girl named Megan, all the way over in the UK! We experienced some amazing moments in Hawaii, such as getting engaged on Waimanalo beach. However at the time, Megan wasn't legally allowed to move to Hawaii due the lack of gay rights. That being the case, after 4 years of battling the distance, I packed up my life and moved to the UK to bridge the gaps in geography and to ultimately start my life with the one I love
What I didn't really think through, or prepare for, is that in moving to join the love of my life, I had to leave everything and everyone else behind. I conquered one long distance to only find myself in another one! I'm now left being in a long distance relationship with my Mother, Father, family and friends. Being my mother's only child naturally made us extremely close growing up; she was a wonderful mother and made me the person I am today. I knew I had to leave in order to start a family with my now wife, but I didn't realise I was essentially leaving her to join another family. Megan's family have been amazing and have truly accepted and made me apart of the family, however it's incredibly hard to have to spend birthdays, mother's day, Christmas', Thanksgivings, etc away from my own family. Guilt starts to set in. It's one thing moving states, which I have done several times, but moving countries with completely different time zones is another matter entirely.
Having visited the UK many times, I thought I knew all there was to a British life. There was a massive novelty at first when I moved to the UK with its thriving culture, the London city life, fantastic work balance, the charming accents and the beautiful English countryside. Life simply couldn't be better. However, that soon faded away and then I encountered culture shock. I found myself seeing things differently-
"the roads are too small, I have no space, I can't understand that person, what did they say? What do you mean no refills? Rain again? Why do all the shops close at 17:30, what is 17:30? Why is it a shop and not a store? You call this a road trip, it's only 2 hours?"
Luckily, the love I have for my wife outweighed the negatives and I began to accept the things I couldn't change and adjust to life here in the UK. Then comes the time I get to visit 'home', America, and excitement takes over-
"I love America, free refills all the way, road trips, space, ample parking, convenience!' A week later, "no one is available because they are working, the roads are too busy, you have to drive everywhere, American accents become overpowering, this is way too much food. I need a cup of tea." I find myself wanting to go 'home', to England.
It's a vicious cycle and a figure eight. My heart is constantly torn between two countries and two cultures. How in the world does one overcome this? Why do I have to be torn with the filling of sadness and missing a loved one ALL of the time? Does it get easier?
I've found that there is light at the end of the tunnel. After near 3 years of permanently living in the UK with my beautiful wife and the happy life we created, I've come to the understanding that yes, my heart will always be torn, but it does get easier. Rather than feeling guilty and seeing this as a bad thing, I have come to find that when you are in a unique situation like mine, you have to fully embrace it and accept that your life is different to your friends and family. I've learnt that living in another country and being in a long distance relationship with loved ones provides you with such an amazing perspective and opportunity in life, not only for myself but my mother and friends have been able to visit and experience life in the UK. Culture shock has been a surprising encounter and one that will continue to happen throughout life. I've realised that you never actually escape being in a long distance relationship with someone you love. It will never end but it makes you appreciate and treasure the time that you do get to spend with your family and friends.
There are also a few perks and positives to take away, it enables you to not only accept change, but welcome change and adapt to different cultures and people. You will definitely be a jet-setter for the rest of your life! You will find that your heart toughens up and starts preparing you for life's challenges. It is the epitome of having the best of both world- doors open for friends and family to visit places that they may not have, you become a worldly and open minded person and fortunately for me, living in the UK I receive 5 week paid vacations + public holidays! Not to mention 1 years maternity leave for when we embark on having children! The life I live is definitely a roller coaster of emotions and adventures, however, I would much rather be on this ride opposed to being stagnate on a boring merry-go-round!
To keep up with where life continues to take me next, be sure to check out http://www.whatwegandidnext.com