I Miss You

It has almost been 2 years since we’ve said good-bye. I think it’s good that neither one of us knew back then how long it would be until we’d see each other again. It made parting a little easier. It gave me the illusion that I would see you again in no time. Instead, I have been missing you every single day for the past, almost, 2 years. So, I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for not making me wear any masks or put on any fronts. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for genuinely feeling the same; for listening to my saddest stories and radiating compassion and empathy from wherever you are.

Thank you for just showing up at my door that one night, in your soccer gear, refusing to leave me alone. Thank you for running to the pulse with me, getting prepped for that movie night. Thank you for making me smash those balloons and for that moment when we formed the plan of interning in New York City. Thank you for helping me make that happen.

Thank you for the laughs, for the cries, and for everything in between. Thank you for being my rock, my anchor; for keeping me grounded when I feel like I might otherwise blow away. Thank you for knowing my favorite ice cream flavor and what song I would die for. Thank you for always knowing what to say and for being one of life’s best teachers. Like I’ve said- if I end up married and with children, it is greatly because you have changed how I look at those things.

Thank you for helping me through really dark times. Thank you for the summer of 2012 and everything we learned from it. Thank you for making me reflect on myself and how I fight and make up with people. Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making the four short years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there. Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege and honor of being able to call you my best friend; thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

Forever and Always,

Your Best Friend

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Going home from another home

They say when you move abroad you are either running from or running to something. In my case, moving to San Francisco meant I was sprinting towards the life that I thought I should have had all along and I couldn’t wait to prove myself in this new world that I had chosen for myself. And life has been treating me well, better than I had hoped it would and better than I sometimes felt I deserved.  Now, I will be going home for Christmas. By the time my plane touches down in Hamburg, Germany, by the time I grab my luggage and fall into the arms of my (probably bawling) mother, I will have been gone an accumulated total of 483 days. And my God, am I ridiculously excited to go back. I have been watching Love Actually on repeat because both the first and the final scene remind me of how I will feel at the airport. I have been humming Christmas songs in my head since my boss approved my vacation request two months ago. I have moments of jumping up and down in my room when I’m alone, because that’s just how excited I am to see my parents, my brothers and my closest friends, to sleep in my old room, to eat my parents’ home-cooked meals, to wander across Christmas Markets and tour the cities I love.

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And then there is a growing worry. Because, by going back, it might just hit me how long exactly I had been gone. I mean, of course there are the obvious measurements of time. I was 21 when I left and 23 when I come home. I missed my brother’s High School graduation and my other brother’s Confirmation. They missed my grad school commencement. I missed my brother moving out and I couldn’t visit him in the hospital on any of the multiple occasions he was brought in with an epileptic attack. They couldn’t help me when I lost my wallet with all my cards in it or when I hurt my foot so badly in the Grand Canyon that I couldn’t walk for two weeks. And while we were there for each other through phone and Internet, I’ve come to learn that distance is a good buffer. It is a hella good painkiller, too. And you grow comfortable being away.

Because, eventually, the distance gets easier to manage. No, I take that back. The distance is something we start to accept as the inevitable, as something we opted in on when we chose to live the life we want. The time zones and phone calls and missing one another are things to which we can adjust and be okay with, which we sometimes complain about but, at the end of the day, look past it.

So, I have become comfortable with being that one family member living at the other end of the world. Because, without this level of detachment, I would constantly feel bad for choosing here over there. For deciding that my hometown is simply too small for all the dreams I have in my head. For not following in my parents footsteps. At. All. Being the “gone one” has started to feel like not such a bad price to pay. But now that my flights are booked, it keeps hitting me exactly how much I’ve been missing all these people that have known me for more than just 483 days and I want to go back to what I’m used to and give them what they expect to get. Pre-San Francisco Me.

But how do we come home to a place that must inevitably have changed while we were gone? Going home from another home is a weird feeling, because people expect you to be the person you were when you left, and that’s impossible. And, vice versa, you expect things to be exactly the same as when you left, and that’s impossible, too.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Most of all though, I just really want Christmas to come!

Cheers,

Ari

Being in a transnational relationship

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year now and I am very happy in my relationship. He makes me laugh, he challenges me, he broadens my horizons and he loves me just the way I am (which must be challenging sometimes).  But, like a lot of other things in life, the past months have not only been sunshine, rainbows and butterflies. And that’s totally ok. Especially when being from different countries- he’s from the Netherlands, I’m from Germany and we met in San Francisco- things can get tricky. So, here’s an accumulation of things you will likely encounter in your first months of being in a transnational relationship.

#1. “Hi”

You meet in this super hot club or bar or classroom or office and hit it off immediately. His smile is amazing, her eyes are gorgeous and you are hooked. You want to find out more about this person. There is excitement in the air and possibilities. The fact that they’re from a country other than yours is, at most, very enticing. And for now, your first-date-outfit is the biggest of your concerns.

#2. “Ik sprek geen Nederland.”

The first couple of dates probably went great. Being from different countries automatically means always having something to talk about. The other person’s culture, tradition, language, foods, jokes, sayings, believes give material for countless talks. You make fun of each other in a tender way and you laugh and learn and are happy. The duration of this phase will vary by couple. For me, it’s still there.

#3. “Ik hou van jou”

No matter after how long and in what language your SO is declaring their love in, it is a big deal and puts your relationship on a new level. You give in to the idea of a future together, you spend your days painting pictures of exploring the world, building something good together. You start semi-serious attempts of memorizing phrases in your SO’s native language, which result in humorous misunderstandings. You secretly google “Visas South Africa” or “How to survive in Italy as an American” or “I am Venezuelan. Should I follow my boyfriend to Norway?” because..you know…just looking at your options here…

#4. “I wanna go home.”

Chances are, you met while you both lived in a country other than the one you grew up in. Or maybe just one of you did. But, eventually, culture shocks or sat backs or simply a bad day will cause homesickness. You’re tired of living in a foreign country and you’re tired of not speaking your native language. And your SO might just be the channel you express your frustration through. That’s the first moment both of you realize that your relationship will not go on like this forever. One of you might want to move home. Or go somewhere else for a job. You begin to understand that, sooner or later, you will either have to find common ground in this matter or your relationship will have an expiration date to it. But thinking about that is ugly, right? Let’s go back to that movie!

#5. “Mom, Dad, meet…”

After a couple of months, it might be “Meet-the-parents-time!”. This can get tricky if the parents can’t converse in English and your own knowledge of their language is less than abysmal. In that case, your dinner conversation will be limited to friendly smiles or gestures, awkward attempts of throwing random words at each other to make a point and a lot of translating through your partner. Which, eventually, will get so tedious that they just give up, talk to their parents in Russian/Urdu/ German and occasionally give you a rough synopsis of what’s happening. Awkward is what this stage can be like!

#6. “Sorry, we don’t really celebrate Christmas…”

Being from different countries will spice up your daily routine in both positive and negative ways. Your relationship will likely be less boring because, again, there is so much to learn about them and their origins. You may be delighted by how they never even consider splitting the bill and always open the door for you because “that’s just what a man does!”. They may be amused at how you get mad when they’re five minutes late to your date because that is “so German of you.” Both of you may be challenged when one of you wants to celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah because you’ve just never done that before and certainly not like that! Does that mean you have to go to church with them on Easter Sunday and drink Christ’s figurative blood?  (Schatz, don’t worry, it’s red wine!). You might get frustrated about how they communicate, you might not understand their convictions and what is a funny joke to them is a cultural offense to you.

#7. “Soooo…after graduation…”

Your visa might expire in the near future or your exchange year is over. You might graduate or are finishing up that project or simply want to know where you stand. Whatever it is, eventually something will bring back the difficult talks about the future. And, while we’d all hope that love could surpass all matter of logistics, life shit can determine the longevity of a relationship. Living in this global world is great most of the time- it opens you doors and let’s you live in places you can’t even pronounce. But nothing sucks more than long-distance relationships. And avoiding that can be near to impossible when both partners face a variety of options for their respective futures. Who compromises how much? Do I really want to move for him? Do I really want to make her move for me? There will be more than one talk about this. It will cause doubts and fears and fights and tears. But don’t avoid it because, once you have found a solution that works for both of you, you can finally go back to simply enjoying each other’s company.

#8. “So, here we are.”

You may break up because you were simply too different. You may somehow slide into a long-distance situation or you could belong to the lucky ones that continuously make it work. Whatever it is, appreciate all that your partner is teaching you. Take it as something that makes you grow and look at relationships in a different way. Ideally, I hope you are happy, enriched by them, in love with love and life and really excited about what the future holds!

Cheers,

Ari

 

Long-Distance Friendship

They say when you’re in a place of great confusion, frustration or stress, you should remind yourself of all the things that are good in your life. So, while still trying to figure out what to do about the grad school debacle, I’ll do just that. This one is to my friends.

I have great doubts in long-distance relationships, having come out of one that didn’t end well a little while ago. So, yeah, I’m biased, mind you. I had just realized that people are under so many influences day by day that it’s really tough to make sure that, although both you and your partner grow and change, you change together and in the same direction. Assure that you’re growing together and not apart. On top of that, I had always trusted in Facebook to be a reliable medium of staying in contact with old friends. While it definitely simplifies things, it can also easily paint a completely different picture of your live. I’ve had several old high school friends assuming I had turned into an uptight, career-oriented person, based on pictures of me in a business attire or sitting in front of a(fairly earned) Macbook that showed up on Facebook at some point in my life. Of course you might say that, if friends are that biased, they aren’t worth your time but it’s always difficult to let go of people that have been in your life for a very, very long time. Incidents like that contributed to me thinking that long-distance of whatever kind is doomed to failure and it didn’t make graduating from college any easier.

I have, however, underestimated my college friends (sorry guys). When I got those really bad news on Monday, I didn’t really have anyone but my parents nearby since my friends are all scattered across the globe. But for them, that was not an excuse not to be helpful, each in their own way. One was late for work because she immediately skyped me to rationally help me assess my options. My long-distance roommate (hmm, who might that be…) stayed online and talked me through my trains of thoughts forbidding me to give up even though I just wanted to say “Screw this sh**”. Another friend, who is soon going to Manchester, gave me motivational speeches and information on studying in the UK. An old high school friend called me and gave me a breakdown of her expenses during her exchange semester in London. And, at the end of the day, I got this really awesome Cheer-up-Board from them, which made me cry and laugh and restore faith in humanity. Definitely check out the board, it might just also make your day brighter 🙂

I’m not saying all of that to show off my friends (although you are so worth showing off guys!) but just to remind you that friendships are important. Don’t take them for granted and try to give back what you receive. Open up because only when others know your greatest struggles and dreams, they’ll be able to support you. And heck, this whole process of growing up and getting where you want to get requires a LOT of support. So,  I want to revoke my original statement about long-distance relationships: It’s all a matter of effort on both sides, I think. And I know I’m willing to go through a lot of effort (or cheer-up videos, pinterest boards and facebook messages because we are too broke to fly to each other in case of emergencies) to keep those friends in my life.

So yeah, reminding you of the good things in your life and actually writing it down really helps, try it if you feel a little down, check out the pinterest board, then get strawberries and sit in the sun with a book. Oh yeah, and hug your friends if you can 🙂

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Cheers,

Ari

“Love is a growing up.”

“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

This quote by James Baldwin is enough to make me want to read everything the man ever wrote. It’s been my Skype status for months now. I used to change that status every time I found a new quote I liked. The fact is, I haven’t found anything that rings more true for me than these words.

Love is a growing up.

In the last year or so, I’ve grown more than I can even begin to explain. I recently celebrated the first anniversary of a relationship that has changed my life in every imaginable way. And no, it was not easy. It wasn’t Hollywood, although it began kind of like the plot for a romantic comedy. You might say, how disappointing that it didn’t continue that way, but really, when the movie-feeling stopped, the real amazingness only began.

I know there are no guarantees for anything in life, but as uncertain as the future may be, I am absolutely sure of one thing: What I learned in this past year I wouldn’t have learned alone. It’s true you should be able to live and be happy by yourself, but you do need people to come into your life and shake things up, so that whether they leave or stay, you’ve changed and grown. Before this year, I was pretty convinced that I was not really the type who had relationships. I was never sure why that was, but it was sort of a fact of life that I did not question very much. You can imagine how much it took me by surprise when someone basically fell from the sky and wanted to stay – and for that to be someone I actually wanted to be with, too! I spent the first few months in utter confusion and disbelief.

Recently, as we celebrated our first anniversary on Skype (yes, long-distance is ANNOYING), I realized that my disbelief has never quite gone away. Sometimes I still expect to wake up and have dreamed this entire relationship. Sometimes, I wait for my house of cards to crash, not quite sure I can accept the fact that someone glued the cards together in these last few months. Sometimes I’m just plain scared. And then yes, love is a battle, not so much with the other person, but with your own demons and insecurities and fears.

But it’s also a growing up. And it helps me to remember – whatever happens, I’m a different person today than I was last year, and I dare say, a calmer and happier person. That alone is worth battling some demons on the nights I can’t sleep…

Long Distance

So here we are, and the blog title applies once again… Ari and I are no longer “real” roommates.

I mean, we’re no longer any kind of roommates , at least not officially. But I’m telling you, living with your best friend for two years (and NOT killing each other) creates a bond for life. At least that what it feels like to me. I can’t imagine my life without my roommate, and that’s still true even when we’re on different continents.

Also, it’s not like we’re strangers to long distance. We’ve been long distance roommates before (hence the blog), and we’ve also been in other kinds of long distance relationships before. In fact my boyfriend of now almost a year (wow) lives on a different continent as well. Conveniently, it’s the same one Ari will be moving to… and there are plans that I might move there as well in the not so distant future. So while we’d still be in different countries, at least we might end up on the same continent again.

This, then, is really the essence of what I take away from college: The bonds we forged, the ones that I hope will last a lifetime.

The people I love will be all over the world, in fact, they already are. Some of my best friends are currently in the U.S., in Venezuela, Germany, Australia, the U.K., Chile, Finland, Norway, Kenya… honestly, you name the country, chances are I’ll know someone either from there or currently living there. Some of them I don’t see every year or even every other year. Some I haven’t seen in years, some I might not see until our 10-year-reunion. And yet, I don’t think it’ll matter too much. We have Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp, heck, even Pinterest to share those things that made us think of each other. The fact that we have Internet means we’re never really very far away from each other (except those moments when you really want to give the other person a hug).

So what’s next?

For me, it’s a six-month internship starting in August, and then… dare I say it… I might make my next move after that dependent on my boyfriend… because a year and a half of long distance is really quite enough. So one of us will be moving. Holy shit. That’s how serious we’ve become. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, but… sometimes I get really freaked out.

For Ari… well if you’ve been following, you know about San Francisco. If not, GO BACK AND READ, seriously. And she’ll keep you posted of course. We plan on continuing this blog not just as a means to stay in touch but I guess also to sort out our “post college confusions”  – credits for the quote to Tabi, thanks 😉

So stick around… we can only get more confused (and therefore entertaining) from here on out… real life is waiting. (Yay?)