I have been living more than 3,822 kilometres (2,374 miles for those not on the metric system) away from the majority of my family for almost two years now. There is literally an entire country between us. I’m on the west coast and my immediate family, along with some extended members, are on the east coast.
To say that it has been a difficult two years would be an understatement.
I am a very family oriented person. I consider my mother and my father two of my best friends, and my younger sister is quickly growing into the type of person that I want to include in that circle as well (she’s thirteen years younger than me, so sometimes it is admittedly difficult to connect). Before I moved, I would spend most Sundays over at my parents’ home, the house that I grew up in, doing laundry, watching hockey, just hanging out and talking. Even though we would talk through the week, it would always feel nice to get together.
So, to be so far away from them is as trying as it is heartbreaking.
On my thirtieth birthday, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers at work from my parents and sister. I’m no flower aficionado, so I couldn’t tell you exactly what they were, but they were pretty! The card wished me a happy birthday, and said how much they wished they could’ve been there for my special day. I wished that they could’ve been too. I closed the door to my office and had a good sob session before going back to work.
I wouldn’t trade the life that I have now for anything in the world. I have a fantastic job, I live in a beautiful city with the love of my life, and have so many new and old wonderful friends here to keep me out of trouble (or get me into it). I’m traveling more now than I ever have, I have an amazing sense of self, and I truly feel like the best version of me that I ever have.
I miss my family so much sometimes that it hurts, to the point where I would trade everything to see them sooner and be close to them again. I’ll just want a hug from my mum or dad more than anything and have to remind myself that I have to wait a few more months to get one (the boy and I have made it home at least once a year since we moved, usually around Christmas time.). We make a point to chat on the phone at least once a week, but sometimes, because of the time zones (we’re four hours behind) it can be a bit of a scheduling nightmare. I almost didn’t get to call my mum on Mother’s Day this year because the play that we were attending ran later than I thought it would and by the time I could call, it ended up being almost 9:30 pm for them! But when I do get to chat on the phone with my family, I cherish every word said between us, even the most mundane things. Hearing their voices gives me the strength that I need. They remind me of how strong I am, how proud they are of me, how much they love me – and while they are words of comfort, it sometimes makes it all that much more difficult. But only sometimes.
Eventually, we’ll move a little closer to our old stomping grounds. Probably not back to the province we’re from. Aside from family and friends, there’s really not a lot there for us, and you reach a certain point in your life when that simply isn’t enough. But we’ll be closer, and we’ll be able to see our families more frequently. I’m looking forward to that day. In the interim, the things that make me the happiest are the phone calls, the Skype sessions, and the random text messages – usually from my father swearing about a sports team or trying to convince me to watch golf (not gonna happen, Dad!)
I remind myself, whenever I get in these homesickness funks, that for the first time in my life, I’m truly choosing the path that I want to. I’m creating a life with the man of my dreams, and we’re exploring all of the bits of the world that we want to together. I’m more independent, I’m more comfortable, and so much happier. Knowing that my family stands behind all of the decisions that I have made that have lead me to where I am makes it easier to be so far from them, to know that when we do talk I’ll have so much to tell them about the world that I live in.
It’s just a few short months until December arrives and I’ll get to see my family again, along with my partner’s family, who I consider members of my family as well. Though the year without them all physically in my life is difficult, I really do believe that it’s helped us all forge stronger connections. It hasn’t come easy – there is a lot of work involved in maintaining long distance relationships of any sort. I work hard to maintain a close relationship with my family, and with my friends. I’m glad that we were all so wonderfully close to begin with, otherwise this would be so much more difficult. And in a way, I think that being apart has made our relationships that much stronger. I didn’t think I could get any closer to my family and friends, yet the distance between us seems to have done that.
As I said before, I wouldn’t trade the life that I have now for anything in this world. Though, I could do without all of the space in between.