Preparation

It’s a funny thing being in a long distance relationship, what surprised us most was how close Shane and I got to one another. It almost seemed strange that even though we’d only physically been together for about 9 weeks out of the 2 years, we knew one another so well. In the long run, the distance meant nothing!

With moving day steadily creeping closer, we both started to pack, I had decided to fly to New Zealand to help Shane out. Not only with his belongings, but to also provide an emotional support. He had never moved out of his home town, so to jump countries was an extremely huge leap of faith, and I wanted to make sure Shane knew we’d be jumping it together. I also wanted to reassure Shane’s family that I was going to take good care of him while we lived together. In comparison to what Shane was doing for us, it was the least I could do for them.

 

The Flight

I have a real love/hate relationship with airports now, my experience of them either meant I was leaving someone I loved behind, or being reunited after a long time. So when it came to leaving day, both of us were streaming with tears as we said our farewells to Shane’s family. Plus I couldn’t help but feel that I was tearing Shane away from his home, part of me wanted to turn to Shane and tell him to stay if it made him happier there, but we both knew we needed to do this. I think we both left part of our hearts in New Zealand that day.

We flew back to the UK hand in hand, the whole 30+ bloody hours of that flight! Touchdown was a relief to say the least, and we were both exhausted, drained of emotions and just wanting to get home. My mum welcomed us both with opened arms as she collected us from the airport, and we both knew at this moment of our lives, it was going to be the beginning of a whole new adventure. Despite our tiredness and lack of enthusiasm at the time, we were excited to have finally reached it this far!

 

Realisation

It was the first morning that it really hit home, when we both woke up in the same bed, looked at each other, and as if a light flicked on upstairs, smiles stretched across our faces and our arms clumsily wrapping themselves around each other as we exclaimed “WE DID IT!!”

I had one more week off from work, and we took that opportunity to get Shane’s Biometric Residence Permit and filled the cupboards with food. Shane already knew his way around after spending a month already in the UK in the previous year, which was a huge relief because the UK didn’t feel completely alien to him. In fact, for those of you out there who are in a LDR, I would highly recommend that you both make the journey to visit each other’s countries, especially if you can’t decide which one of you should do the move. This will give you a feel for the culture, and also the opportunity to meet each others family, even though it won’t fully prepare you for actually living there, it will at least provide you with a taster.

 

 

Culture Shock

You’d think that there wouldn’t be too much of a shock with us both being of European decent, having similar customs and traditions. Despite the similarities between the UK and NZ, they are two very different countries. At first it wasn’t too much of an issue, but when it started to hit, the homesickness hit hard. This was difficult for the both of us, though Shane would remind me that he had no regrets, it still didn’t stop the fact that he missed the country of his birth.

New Zealand had summers, proper summers, where as Britain is famous for the unpredictable weather and cold spells. New Zealand has the beaches, the landscapes, friendliness, their food, their sayings, the accent, bumping into people you know, the ability to go on long drives without traffic, the lower population, the bush, the sounds of native birds, his family….It’s easy to see why Shane would miss it soooo much, and it is something we have had to deal with together.

I have on occasions told Shane that if he ever wanted to move back I wouldn’t stop him, but every time I have he has reassured that he wants to remain in the UK with me. When you commit, you are going to have to assume that eventually, this will happen to you too, and you need to be there for each other when it does, because it can be very painful to see.

 

Living Together

Going from talking via ropy Skype connections to finally being able to falling asleep in each others arms is an amazing feeling, one that even after a year, I’m still thoroughly enjoying. At first there are always teething issues, you have to get used to each others little habits that you’d usually get away with when shielded by a camera, and now you’re living with it, and yup, there’s no looming flight home this time! Saying this, Shane and I spoke so often that we seemed to have already grown accustomed to most habits the other possessed. Though, there were little things that we did differently, like folding up washing or how we made the bed. But it’s all stuff you can easily live with!

If there are annoying habits you come across (perhaps liiiiike….how to load the dishwasher?) then you might need to work it out early, or suffer built up tension in the long run!

I found it easier making Shane feel at home as soon as possible. Before he moved over I had already made space in the wardrobe and on most the shelving at our place so that he had areas to put his belongings, I wanted it so he could make it as much his home as it was mine. Soon after Shane’s arrival, we also got him a desk and computer so that he was able to get back to what he loved doing, making comics!

I remember reading an article once on another LDR, and the writer mentioned that even though it is such a beautiful time when you do finally close the distance, you also lose a certain charm that you can only get with the separation. I found this strange, thinking that there was nothing more I wanted than to be with my soul mate, BUT I can see what she meant. There was a wonderfulness to having your next meeting to look forward to, an excitement to planning your next trip, the thrill of receiving packages and letters, and the heart leaping moment of seeing your loved one exit through the arrival gates. Nevertheless, for us, the tear jerking farewells, the desperate search for signals, the dismay at pixelated video feeds, the time difference, the heartbreaking moments of realisation of the distance between you both…We won’t miss that, and we sure as heck won’t let anything get between us again, ESPECIALLY a freaking planet!

Fight hard and don’t give up, if you’re in love and you KNOW they are your soul mate then have faith, think ahead and remember, despite all the odds you found each other, now don’t ever let go.