For those of you who aren’t in the know, Felipe and I met while I was in Chile for my study abroad in the Fall semester of 2011. In fact, my host family is his family…we were living in the same house. At first, due to my overly nervous, shy self, we didn’t talk much. For a while I was embarrassed to speak Spanish in front of the family, so I pretty much kept my mouth shut. That passed though, and eventually, in October of 2011, we started hanging out and found out that we had a lot in common.
Unfortunately, getting together that late in the semester meant that we only had two months to get to know each other and truly date before I had to go back to the United States. We even planned to take a trip together to Torres del Paine during my last two weeks in Chile in order to be able to say goodbye to each other and have a great memory. Like in Casablanca, they always have Paris…well, the idea was that we would always have Torres.
That thinking didn’t quite work out though. We did take the trip, and it was amazing, but instead of making us feel OK about leaving each other, we got to know each other better (hiking 70 miles, camping, with few showers…if you can make it through that without killing each other, you will probably do well together). By the end of the trip, we both agreed on one thing: we didn’t want to leave the relationship where it was. So, I went back to the US, he stayed in Chile, and the long distance relationship began.
Note that, before I went to Chile, I swore that I would never date a Chilean because it would make things too complicated.
Well, I was right! 6 months of Skype and Whatsapp texts were what followed. Anyone who has done long distance knows how hard it is to not have the person there. Tears were shed and fights were had periodically, but we made it through. In June of 2012, Felipe came to visit me in the US for a month. It was the best month I could have asked for. Finally Felipe was able to meet my family and see what my life was about, not just through stories! My family loved him almost instantly, and the entire trip was a success. While he was there, Felipe proposed to me.
I accepted, naturally. However, just a short time later, Felipe returned to Chile. That meant 5 more months of separation for the two of us. It was hard. Especially when we were now trying to plan a wedding and figure out the rest of our lives! Not to mention, we both were working, and I was finishing up my last semester of college. It was quite a battle, but we made it through. I returned to Chile on the 18th of December, 2012. A month later on January 19, 2012, we were married.
In other words, in the year and five months we have been together, we have only been physically together for five months of it. Now, for a lot of people, that seems like a short amount of time, and Felipe and I agree. But, when you are separated like that and all you have is Skype and phone communication, you get to know each other really well. With long distance, all you have is talking. The intimacy factor has been taken out and you have to find new ways to connect to make it work. Most people mask intimacy as truly connecting and knowing a person. I have never known someone so well in my entire life as I know Felipe now. We talked on Skype almost every night for a minimum of 30 minutes and sent millions of text messages. I can’t think of another person I would do that with.
Side note: If you don’t know what Whatsapp is…check it out. Free texts to anyone who has the app no matter where they are in the world. Viber is another app for free calls. Being able to have wake up calls from 6,400 miles away was pretty cool. It definitely helped us feel more like a part of each others’ every day lives.
Needless to say, however, we got really tired of being apart. It wears on a relationship to be that far apart, even with almost constant communication. Originally, our plan was for me to come down here, get married, and then I would go back and start the United States visa process…today. Since I have been down here, however, we have discussed the matter. We are just not ready in the near future to spend the ten months or more separated to do the visa process. (See next week’s post for the explanation as to why it would be so long). I have already changed my plane ticket to come home later, which isn’t news for most people.
Here is the Big News: I changed my ticket to come home May 1st, landing on US soil on the 2nd. I will stay only for a month or so to settle my things, figure stuff out, and visit people. Then, I will be buying a one way ticket back to Chile. We don’t know for how long this will be for, but we are thinking at least 2-3 years. We just need time together. I plan to figure out my visa situation here and get a job once I am back from the US in June, and from there, we will see where life goes. Unfortunately, this means that a reception/party in the US for our marriage will not be able to happen for a long time. Felipe used his vacation time at work for this year during our wedding and honeymoon, so he will not be able to join me when I return to the US in May.
While we are far away, we are not gone. We both would like to encourage letters, Skype dates, and everything else. Also, if you have an idea about another way we can celebrate our marriage with those in the US unable to come to Chile, please let us know. There were many people missing from our celebration that we love dearly. We both believe that this is the best decision for the two of us, and the love and support that we have received from our friends and family has been immense. We thank everyone who has been a part of our journey.
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