Trip Rundown

I’m back in the U.S. after my third trip to Kenya.  This trip might have been our favorite.  Here’s kind of a breakdown of the three trips:

Trip 1 (after being apart for the first five months, five months into bf’s service): Wonderful (most amount of vacation time of all the trips), but also after being away from each other so long there was some anxiousness on my part to make everything perfect.  Was still a wonderful trip, but there was also a little bit of an adjustment to finally have expectations meet up with reality.

Trip 2 (after being apart for four months, ten months into bf’s service): Great experience to be more involved in his daily work with the kids in his school and understand his day to day more–made me understand more where he has been coming from with hurdles and accomplishments in his daily life.  Also, expectations and reality were more in sync and we got to really connect with each other as a couple, without as much of the nervousness as the first trip.

Trip 3 (after being apart for three months, 14 months into bf’s service): Fun!  We have definitely gotten more into the groove of our LDR and this trip was all about just enjoying each other, relaxing, having fun and carving out a little normalcy in our activities (instead of all the amazing crazy adventures). Was really, really fun for both of us.

I think with all our time apart and time together we have learned how to be better friends and support systems to each other–we know each other more, and can sense what the other one can do to help out.  On this last trip especially, my bf was such a support when I was stressed about a couple things going on at home–was amazing to have him to lean on completely, and for him to literally offer his shoulder for support.  I felt (and feel) like an incredibly lucky girl.

Immediately on returning home, one of the first things I did was look up tickets for a trip back.  I can’t wait for Trip #4 and all the new adventures we get to share!

Long-Distance Relationship Reaches One-year Mark!

So this blog post is now three months late, since my boyfriend actually left in November of 2008, but since we have officially passed the year mark, I still wanted to share.

Before my boyfriend moved to Kenya, we both had experienced long-distance relationships (with his experience of a year and a half outdoing my own experiences).  I had two previous LDRs, the first for four months (after first dating for two years) and the second for four months (after dating for three months)–obviously none of our previous LDRs worked out.  In his case and mine, our LDRs had been in the same country; meaning that in-person visits were much more feasible than the approx. 30 hours on planes and airports it takes me to get to Kenya.

When he left I felt like the two years would be doable (based on some of my friend’s experiences) but still difficult at times.  I also worried about myself, since I had never been in a LDR for more than four months and wondered how I would deal with everything. I can happily report that we have now been in our LDR for over a year, with about another year to go!  I have seen him twice in this year (for a total of four weeks), and will be seeing him again soon.

On his way to Kenya to begin his Peace Corps Service, my boyfriend sat next to a man who told him he had also started a LDR after only a few months of dating before moving to Africa.  He happily reported that ten years later he was still together with the same woman and they had successfully managed their time apart.  The man gave my boyfriend two pieces of advice: 1) The key to a successful LDR is communication AND 2) Never EVER eat the lettuce in Kenya.  We have followed these two pieces of advice religiously.

The first 3-4 months of his absence were definitely the most difficult, for several reasons.  Technology was limited, we didn’t know where the Peace Corps would place him (in a remote hut or a city), and for me the uncertainty if the relationship we had created in-person (over the course of eight months) could ultimately sustain us for two years.  At the beginning when he didn’t have a phone yet, or access to Internet (plus Skype) staying connected to him was difficult. When we couldn’t talk on the phone at the beginning, I started a journal of letters that I would write to “him” to help me feel connected, we both exchanged emails when technology permitted. Now we are in much more of a routine, and the two visits to Kenya helped solidify that the love is as much there in person as it is over the phone.

When technology and schedules permit, we speak at least once a day if not twice.  On weekends, we get to be on Skype for a couple hours at a time which is awesome–I’ll eat breakfast and he’ll finish his dinner.  Yes, ideally we would be eating the same meal in the same place, but in comparison to some of his counterparts, our situation with technology capability spoils us and makes us feel incredibly grateful.

There are definitely still some hurdles, when electricity is down, or he is traveling for trainings or I’m traveling for work and we can’t catch up as often, but as a whole we are incredibly lucky.  For anyone wanting to maintain a LDR, I cannot reiterate enough how important communication and phone calls are; they help you feel close and allow you to experience the other’s world when you are oceans away.  I also have to say that maintaining the relationship based on friendship and conversation, has actually been an amazing way of pulling us closer.  I rely on him emotionally like I would a partner who is in the same place, maybe even more so because a majority of our relationship now is based on friendship and sharing our days in detail so we can visualize everyone and everything.  It might sound a bit sappy, but I love him more today and love us more today than the day he left.

So happy one-year LDR anniversary to us!!  And here’s to one more year to go!!