This is not a beautiful love story where I live happily ever after with the guy I met abroad. However, it is a true love story with life lessons.
In the summer of 2011, I met someone while I was studying abroad in Australia. It was your typical meet cue at a hostel bar. I approached him and his friends, said hello, and the night progressed from there. There was talking, dancing and even a kiss or two.
A few days later, we shared a terribly romantic morning walking around Sydney, followed by lunch at the opera house, and a night filled with panoramic views of the city from thirty floors high at the Shangri La.
Flash forward through a year of keeping in touch via Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp, and getting to know the ins and outs of one another through the magic of modern technology and the Internet. He and his friends came to travel around the States with a long stop in Arizona to see me. From there, I ended up traveling with them for a few weeks and during that time we grew more and more in love.
Meanwhile, I applied to graduate programs in Australia, and received my acceptance letter to the University of Sydney the day he arrived in Phoenix. We decided we would try to make a relationship work even though I wouldn’t be moving there for another 6 months.
We talked every night despite the 17-hour time difference and I felt exceedingly happy. We realized that we couldn’t bear being apart any longer so I flew to Sydney to be with him for a month. As we said goodbye at the airport, I cried but I knew we’d be reunited soon enough. But soon wasn’t enough, and he immediately booked a flight to come back to the States.
The plan was that he would stay with me for a month and a half and then we would fly to Sydney together when I started school.
All was well except for the considerable amounts of money we were spending on traveling to see one another. One night I realized I didn’t particularly want to talk, and I found myself making excuses not to. That pattern continued for weeks as his arrival date quickly approached. I felt confused because I had been so sure of my love for him just weeks before.
The more I analyzed the situation, the more I convinced myself everything was fine and that when he arrived it would be perfect again. After all, I had drastically altered my life plans to make this work, and I would be damned if it wasn’t going to because of my doubts.
As I saw him from a distance at the airport, I felt a knot in my stomach. I knew instantly that everything wasn’t perfect. We spent the next month traveling and spending time with my family. I spent many hours contemplating the validity of my feelings and the decisions that had stemmed from them.
I realized that the wonderful romance we had experienced was an illusion. For a year he had been this exciting foreign guy with a sexy accent that I could never have because of geography. Then when it became a possibility, I was too wrapped up in the excitement to notice anything else.
He was always a safe and comfortable friend, someone to flirt with, and fantasize about. He was someone who I could vent to and share my day with. We had all the wonderful parts of a relationship, without any of the hardships.
Then I moved to Sydney and it became a reality. I lived with him until I found my own place and we continued to work at “us” for another eight months. I made wonderful friends, traveled around Australia, found a good internship, and received my Masters degree. Meanwhile we went through a rollercoaster of emotions together. I fell in and out of love with him several times and never stopped doubting myself. The problem though, was never him.
The problem was always with me and my unreasonable expectations. They were the same expectations that I had the night I met him in that hostel bar, and that I chose to ignore until I couldn’t suppress them anymore.
When I finally decided to be honest with myself, I realized he was a wonderful person, with wonderful qualities, and amazing potential, but that wasn’t enough for me. I knew that we had made incredible memories together and even managed to build a life around a fantasy, but it couldn’t last. Our goals did not align, and we didn’t share the same passions.
Ultimately, it was not the right time for us, but we salvaged a friendship from everything, and remain on good terms. The wonderful thing about life though, is that none of our stories are over yet.