Common Denominators among Gringas (the Love post)

The other day I went with a friend to meet a girl who will be moving to Chile later in the year. This girl is currently finishing her studies and is visiting her fiancee in Chile at the moment on a trip that is just about to end. She had been invited to my Chilean bday celebration on Tuesday but given that it’s her last week here, she politely declined. The next day when I touched base with her about meeting up for coffee before she left Chile, she apologized for not being able to go, stating that since it was her last week here, she wanted to fully enjoy her time with her fiancee.

All I could think was: “Sister, you’re preaching to the choir.”

Since that exchange, I’ve been thinking about what gringas with Chilean significant others have in common. Sure, we have many, many ties that bind given our similar life situations (in most cases) but what really hits home with me is the passionate, all-consuming, one extreme-to-the-next kind of relationship that exists between a gringa and her Chilean sig other during the time we live apart. It’s a far less extreme version of what I merely imagine military wives go through. Of course our version is comparable to a walk in a rose garden considering military wives say goodbye for months on end and live IN FEAR that their husbands/boyfriends won’t return! … yes of course, our version of long-distance-relationships is much rosier.

However while we’re living it, it truly feels like nothing in the world is more painful, more unfair or more never-ending than the constant goodbye’s we have to endure. You basically live your life not from day-to-day but rather, from one visit to the next. It’s like deciding to sleep through two, three, four months between and you finally wake up for about a week’s worth of time, just to go back to your zombie like state following the torturous, heart-wrenching goodbye (done at the airport).

Oh, the goodbye at the airport. If I EVER have to go through one of those again, shoot me first. I can’t tell you how many times the crew at SFO and SCL saw me bawling, waiting until the very last second to cross immigration (in Santiago) or leave through the sliding glass doors (in San Francisco). Memories of sitting on the plane, crying and crying and crying and just thinking “Get up, get up right now and screw it all, just go be with him.”

The sad reality of life apart was this: I’d get back home after having been in Chile (or was left alone after he’d come to San Francisco), a happy, busy and idealistic time with G, quickly followed by about three days of depression. Crawling into bed, either eating too much or eating too little, watching sad movies worthy of wrist-slitting (think P.S. I Love You.) We’d talk constantly, excessively, as if I couldn’t get from one minute to the next without having him on the line. Yes, from here it sounds a little Lifetime movie dramatic but it was just like that. Empty, painful and all consuming. Then, as if in auto mode, I would just … deal. I would wake up, get ready for work, commute, work, eat, happy hour, go home, sleep, repeat (happy hour was replaced by gym or going straight home on other nights. Of course a session of Skype with G was a must, no matter what I did after work.) We just learned to deal with the emptiness, the missing and longing, the loneliness and the monotony of living your life as if single. And that’s one of the worst parts too. You have this person who is THE person, THE love of your life, THE ONE … and yet, you’re apart. So you go everywhere alone and worse, people just keep seeing you as you, alone.

And then… the day you’ve been waiting for FOR MONTHS ON END, finally arrives and you are once again reunited … but then … it’s weird. It’s almost like you need a day or two to readjust to having this person LIVE, right there next to you. I remember being so shy and nervous when I was finally with G again and would jokingly say “Um I need you behind a screen so I can be myself.” Well, it was half jokingly really, which now that I think of it, is so sad! But it makes sense since we spent more time apart than we did together and though this made it so easy to really get to know each other, it made for actual together time awkward in the beginning!

Well, we know how my personal story with G ends in the anecdote unfolded above (happily), but the point is that in discussing our gringa stories with one another we all have the following common denominators:

– having our hearts ripped out (at the airport) when one trip came to an end
– moving along our daily life (apart) in auto mode
– relying on all forms of technology to keep our relationships alive
– having the in-between dates from one trip to another go by in a blur and only focusing on the next time we’d be together
– living momentary awkwardness when we were finally reunited
– having the most amazing time of our lives with the person we love fit into just a mere few days (or if we were lucky, a few weeks!)


And I’d like to take this opportunity to say: when the time comes to end that sad cycle of living apart and coming together, it takes one bold and bad-ass gringa to pick up and move to another country in search of life, laughs and adventure next to the man she loves.

But that, folks, is a story for another time.

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11 thoughts on “Common Denominators among Gringas (the Love post)

  1. Woah, you changed your bloggy blog layout again, love the pink!

    And yes, this whole post almost made me cry thinking about on my long distance relationship days. Your description is SPOT on. Especially the part about just sleeping through a few months of your life…

    When our new amiga asked me how we did it, I was like ummm, no secret, we just bawled our eyes out at the airport in gut wrenching goodbyes. I wish I could've told her there's a way to make it easier, but I really don't feel like there is.

    Overdramatic, maybe a little bit. Totally true, definitely.

  2. BAAAWWWWLLLLLL!!!!! Sniff!!! Choke!!! Sob!!!! Oh god…you hit topic dead on! Great post! Amen sister! I feel like you just described everything I´ve been feeling and going through for the past five years of my life!!! It makes it especially hard to read this post though with my departure date just around the corner! I officially have 2.5 days left on planet Chile! Ahhhh! I hate how a visit goes by so unnaturally fast!

    At least at the airport when we say our goodbye´s, it will be slightly easier and comforting knowing that it´s the last separation in our lives!!! I really feel that with every separation, it´s gotten harder and harder to say goodbye and I feel like this one is going to kill me!

    Definitely going to fall into depression mode for the first week. It sucks because when I get home from a separation, the only thing I want to do is sit and cry in my room and watch movies and just eat and be alone. Unfortunately, since I´m diving right back into school again, that won´t be possible. Buuu!

    It´s so interesting to hear that you and your fiance feel the same when you reconnect after a long separation! I too feel akward and a bit strange the first day or two after reuniting again! It makes sense, I´ve just never heard anyone discuss it before! It´s weird eh? Kind of like meeting him all over again!

    P.S. Love the new blog layout!

  3. hahaha. oh god and you weave through that security exit line catching a glimpse each time you weave around, not knowing if by the next turn you'll still be able to pick him out or not. and then 3 hours of thinking 'screw it, i should just…NOT go"

  4. Oh yes, I remember all of this! It was seriously so weird to travel alone in October for the first time since I moved down here – I felt like I should be sad even though I was only leaving for 10 days just because that's how it had always been.

    Although honestly, looking back, I think for us it was a good thing. I was 20 and a junior in college when we me, and for most of my freshman and sophomore years I'd dated someone else. I think the distance gave me a chance to really take advantage of college life (living walking distance from most of my friends!), which is a time I'll never get back, and take advantage of doing what I and I alone wanted rather than having to compromise by focusing on a relationship. I mean sure, we talked all the time, and it sucked, and I was sad, but for the long-term health of our relationship I'm glad I was able to have that "me" time where I could be selfish. Now I'm ready to do "us".

    And I too am digging the new blog – very fancy, you'll have to teach me your ways.

  5. Great post. This is dead on. I am now counting the days, (12) until I am back in Chile in my husband's arms. The goodbyes have to be the most horrible feeling ever experienced in my life! But what makes me even sadder is now I look back at my time in the US away from Rodrigo, and I can only remember major events. My friends always ask me, "Do you remember last year when….." and it almost kills me that I was there and that I don't remember. I am so happy that I am done with the horrible goodbyes. Never again will we be separated for months at a time. I don't think I can handle it, not even one more time.

  6. My husband and I have been married over 8 years now, but I remember those separations. The good thing is that that anguish becomes a distant memory.

  7. Oh, Andrea, how I can relate to this! For months after I moved permanantly to Denver, I would tear up when I'd see the airport. Those car rides to the airport were always the worst. I'd try to be strong, but the closer we got, the tearier I got, and then I would just lose it when we got there. We decided after the first time, when he came inside the airport with me and I bawled, that we would do curb drop-off. Easier for me to just cry there, then walk inside. But still, it IS so hard – you feel like a part of your heart is being ripped out, and you just kick youself for going back "home" when you already feel like you are home with that person.

    I remember the day we finally decided I'd move here, it was like this rush of relief flowing over me. Like, finally!! I can start my life! It was getting to the point where I would cry almost every time we talked on the phone, and his sweet texts would just wrench my heart. Long distance relationships are NOT easy – and it takes real trust and dedication from both people to make it work. I never want to go through it again, but damn, am I glad I hung in there.

  8. PS: I also totally relate to the weirdness upon seeing that person for the first time again! Part of you wants to rip their clothes off, but part of you feels like, hello, who are you again? I always needed to get comfortable and re-connect in person emotionally before the clothes hit the floor. ; )

  9. First, I love your new layout. It looks so professional and I wish that I had some talent in like web design or blog design whatever you call this.

    Second, right on. It's hard. There is no real way of getting around it. I also have done what Lydia described as you are making your way through the immigration line but you turn around to keep catching glimpses of each other. This year I wasn't the one crying, he was. It's fair thought becuase last year I was walking through the line with my eyes all puffy and hiccoughing.

  10. um, yea, well now you can understand why i sorta hated law school- 3 years of back and forth torture. who was i trying to kid being a strong woman going and studying and leaving my boyfriend behind and chile? in retrospect while yea i guess i'm proud of myself for enduring that torture, i would never EVER recommend it. we went for long periods apart and i really suffered hard core during those times-as did R. i seriuosly can't even look at a super shuttle in NYC without tearing up. i would sob when that stupid super shuttle van woudl come to my apartment to take R away from me. oy i'm like tearing up now. oh and yes ps i love you is a total wrist slitting good time. if you want another recommendation for music that really just makes your llantos worse try looking up "Softly as I leave you" by Frank Sinatra. Actually, just go find the lyrics. it's about him leaving his love behind. atrociously horribly sad. and on a funny note R always made fun of me for acting "weird" whenever we met up again…he'd always joke that it took me a while to warm up to him…haha

  11. AMEN! N and I are still doing the long-distance thing and even though it will be over in a matter of months, I am secretly afraid that that day will never come. Currently, counting down the 12 days until his next visit. *Tear*
    Our airport good-bye ritual involves N trying to run through the security line as fast as he can before I can start crying and then him making funny faces at me from the other side of the glass. When it's me who's traveling from SCL to SFO he ignores the fact that he isn't supposed to go into the immigration line and waits with me anyway. Then he jumps up and down while I go through security to say goodbye about 1000 more times. Once, the immigration guy even let me go back outside and give him another kiss because N was being so crazy. Ah, love…

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