Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Long-Distance Relationship (or Love - take your pick!)

Long-distance relationships are hard. Trust me, I was in one with The Hubs (when he was still The Boyfriend) for almost two years. Some of my long-term readers may have heard this story, but for my more recent followers, this will be new to you.

My first foray onto the iternet was on August 30, 2000. How do you remember the exact date, you may ask? Well, it's the day I met The Hubs, so it comes easily. I had a friend (who we shall call Goldie) who had met a guy online and she was all about her internet chats. She was over at my house one day and decided we just had to go to the library so she could chat with her beau (who was English, I might add). This was in the days before everyone here in the boonies had internet in their homes. In fact, the library had only recently gotten it, so off the two of us went to the library.

I'll state right here and now that I was extremely dubious of her "relationship" with English guy and I wasn't sure how I felt about the internet, having never been on it. But, Goldie really wanted to chat to English guy, so I accompanied her and figured I might as well get my feet wet internet-wise and see what all the fuss was about.

While she loaded up to chat with English guy, I browsed through the chat rooms on Yahoo. Some of the rooms really freaked me out, but I figured music chat was safe (boy, was I naive!) and, since I love Fleetwood Mac, I decided to enter the chatroom devoted to that greatest of bands. While Goldie chatted away with her man, I was having my eyes opened to a whole new universe! Not all of it was good, but not all bad either. I didn't feel comfortable talking to anyone though, so I basically just sat there and read what the others in the room were saying to one another. After about half an hour, I was getting ready to leave the room when a name popped up as having entered the room. I don't know what it was, but I felt this overwhelming need to talk to this person. It was a pull like I'd never felt before and have never felt since. So, I instant messaged him.

You can probably guess who it was, right? Well, don't get ahead of me!

He messaged me back and we started a conversation. It turned out he was also from England, just like Goldie's English guy, however, he was from a different part of England. We chatted for about two hours that first day. I had just gone through a very bad breakup and it was nice to have someone to talk to about it who was outside the situation and whom I was obviously never going to meet in real life (shows what I knew!). We also found we had a lot in common. We exchanged email addresses and decided to meet the next afternoon (evening for him) to chat again.

Thus began our long-distance relationship. Everytime we chatted, we grew a little closer. By mid-September, we had decided we wanted to chat on the phone, so I called him. Oh, my gosh! His accent was so dreamy I could almost melt in it! (Sadly, I don't hear it so much these days....he still has it, it's just become normal to me, so I miss that melty feeling.) We exchanged letters and photos. We talked on the phone every day. We chatted online every day. Goldie laughed at me repeatedly and asked me was meeting someone online so silly to me now. For my 22nd birthday in November, he sent me a gorgeous fall basket of flowers. It was amazing!

Months passed and we decided we wanted to meet in person. So on June 13, 2001 (nine months after we first met online), The Hubs (Boyfriend) boarded a plane and flew over 3000 miles to see me. We picked him up at the airport in Atlanta. We didn't make it out of the airport before we were making out (I know, it's disgusting, lol!). We completely fit one another. It was perfect :D

It wasn't long though (9 days) before I had to take him back to catch the plane home. That was the hardest thing I had ever had to do to that point. It was so heartbreaking to let him go. We had decided I would go visit him for Christmas that year, but that was six months away! And, at the time, that seemed an interminably long way off.

But, the months passed and on December 21, 2001, I arrived in England. The feeling of completeness was still there for both of us and we had a wonderful Christmas and New Year together (a story about going through the airport 3 months after 9/11 and right at Christmas is due, but I'll save that for another time). Too soon it was time for me to head back home. The waiting game started over again.

It wasn't long, though, before he was back in the US. I picked him up from the airport on February 28, 2002. He spent his 25th birthday with me and we went to Savannah to celebrate. We took a Riverboat Cruise, visited the Tybee Island Lighthouse (and went all the way to the top!) and walked all over Savannah in that weekend! It was a great visit.

At this point, we had decided we had had enough of the back and forthing and being apart. Plans started being made. It was decided that I would come over to see him in June and I would stay for six months. We needed to know that things were going to work between the two of us for more than two weeks at a time. So, I gave notice at my job, said goodbye to my family and friends and on May 31, 2002 I loaded up my mom's car and she took me to the airport. Saying goodbye to my family was really, really difficult, particularly to my mom, dad and sister. But I knew The Hubs (Boyfriend) was waiting for me! And I knew that, whatever happened between the two of us, my family would always be there for me to come back to.

On June 1, 2002, I landed in England. The Hubs (Boyfriend) was there to welcome me with open arms. The first couple of weeks went by and things were as great in person as they were long-distance. Another month went by and The Hubs (Boyfriend) asked me a question I had waited a long time to hear - "Will you marry me?" Obviously, I said yes!

We waited until September to tell any of our family. Possibly not the best decision, but it was the one we made. The plan was to get married in the US in November (my visa waiver expired December 3, 2002, so I had to leave the UK before then) and then go to New York to get my spousal visa. On November 23, 2002 - the day after my 24th birthday - we were married. We spent our honeymoon going to New York to get my visa (not nearly as romantic as it sounds - 23 hours on a Greyhound bus up to New York, all day spent in the British Embassy to get the visa, spending the night with my brother in Pennsylvania, then 26 hours on a Greyhound bus back to Georgia). Then on December 3, 2002, we boarded a plane back to England as a married couple.

It would be 11 months before I returned to the US. 11 months before I saw my family again. That is a very long time. Has it been worth it, you ask? Definitely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Long-distance relationships are hard, but, if you are devoted to the other person involved, they're definitely worth it.

Have you ever been involved in a long-distance relationship? If so, what's been the most difficult part for you? The easiest? Would you do it again? If you've never been involved in a long-distance relationship, is it something you think you could ever consider?

If you made it all the way through this post, I hope you enjoyed our story :D It's been a tough road, but I'm glad I took that turn. It's definitely been worth the cost.


Kakunaa said...

That is such is such a beautiful story! I am so glad you were able to meet your soul mate. Is it hard for him to be away from england?

O!h and I was in airports 2 months after 9/11. It was crazy!

Kristin said...

Great story!!! I also met my husband online, but we didn't have to deal with the long distance thing.

Wonder Woman said...

What a phenomenal story!!! I had been in 2 LDR's and finally swore them off altogether. But when I met my husband we were living 4 hours from one another. He said he'd prefer not to have an LDR. I agreed. So we pretended that's NOT what we were doing for 4 and a half months. And then i moved to his city. :0) 14 months later we were engaged. 6 months after that married.

randomdanni said...

I did the long distance thing once, I was dating a navy guy stationed in VA (he was originally from MA like me and we had tons of friends in common). Everybody always asks if the distance killed the relationship, but to be honest, it only played a small part in our break up.

I think it's very possible to make the long distance thing work, clearly it worked for you and The Hubs!

Lynn said...

@Gen - Fortunately, The Hubs is one of those people who seems to be content wherever he is (unlike me in that sense!), so he doesn't miss England too badly. He does miss his family, but being in another country doesn't bother him much. We're going to try to be back in England for Christmas this year - his first Christmas with his family since 2003 (2004 we were in the US with my family and 2005 we were unable to join them because we were getting ready to make the move to the US and couldn't board our puppy in case she got kennel cough) and his first visit home since August 2008.

@Kristin - Awesome! I always love meeting others who met online. I was lucky enough to find a community very similar in it's support to the ALI community for those in online/long-distance relationships back when The Hubs and I were in different countries and right after I moved to England. I'm still good friends with a lot of those ladies!

@Wonder Woman - It really does make a difference to the decisions you make when you find the right person, doesn't it? :D

@Danni - I know a lot of people who have said the distance was too much on the relationship, but I have to think that, in a lot of those cases, there were other problems as well. The distance is just an easy excuse. Yes, you have to be committed and willing to go that extra mile, but, when it's right, it's so worth it!

Susan Oloier said...

Stopping by as part of the A to Z Challenge. How is it I have not found your blog before? It is just great!
What an amazing story. I was glued to the computer screen. I am so glad things worked out with your long-distance relationship.

Kristin said...

I love your story. I get a case of the warm fuzzies every time I read it.

doreen said...

That was a beautiful story. My husband and I also met online and I thought we had a long distance relationship but silly me we were only an hour apart. This June will be our 4th anniversary.
I am going to say some prayers for you because I believe anyone that wants to be a Mommy should be:)

Donna Weaver said...

Yay for Skype! I've got a son and his family living in China and a daughter and her family living in Hawaii.

Jerri said...

I also met my husband online, not a great distance away, within the same state. We've been happily married for nine years now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a lovely story! I would never even start anything like that, maybe I shouldn't rule out anyone just based on where they live... I'm glad I've read your story!
- andrea, an A to Z participant

Anonymous said...

Great story. I have been in a long distance relationship as well. I met my hubby as an undergrad. We were apart through when I moved back home and went to grad school. I think we were long distance for about four years or so. It was great because we really learned to talk to each other, but it was hard. I am really glad we are married now and actually live in the same house :)

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