Married and in a Long Distance Relationship

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Now that you’re married, what’s next? “TONS OF PAPERWORK”, I replied. 

Now back in the Philippines. Passport stamps, broken hearts.

Same old self, new civil status.

Three four letter-words to add to my family name; First one I stole from mein Mann, the other, I worked my ass out in gradschool, the last I acquired for the (new) job I started this week.

And so there it goes. After 10 blissful days in Hong Kong with the husband, we are both back to reality.

We have had our couple of goodbyes as sweethearts, but the latest goodbye at the airport was the worst of it all. Who would actually feel fine with having to bid your husband goodbye as you have to go on separate ways yet again? I bet nobody. Yeah, a temporary goodbye, but painful nonetheless. 20170423_180505

I always find fetching him at the arrival area the most exciting of all, and having to let go of his hand by the departure area as an unpleasant one. We both had been trying to hold back the tears as  we rode the A21 Bus from Nathan Road to Hong Kong International Airport. He was sending me off as I was flying the night before his flight. This has not been really smooth, though. Back in the hotel, we had been a little dramatic for the last three days, especially on the hours before I had to zip my luggage and get my stuff off the rack in the bathroom.

The intensity of emotions kept flowing. All throughout the one-hour bus ride, we gripped each other’s hands tighter and tighter as we approached HKIA. Mother nature perhaps understood what was going on, so since we couldn’t weep on the bus, the heavens did.

He was again teary, too, as I went to the immigration counter and had to let go of his hand. But it was a really miserable feeling, so I didn’t have second thoughts. I turned back to him to give that one last hug and kiss as he wiped my tears. I went on to the queue and when I looked back, he was standing there, waiting for me to get through and perhaps until we are no longer on each other’s sight. My heart couldn’t feel heavier, and his eyes said exactly the same.

Seven hours and a connecting flight later, we were on a long distance affair again. This time, not as sweethearts, but as a married couple.

received_468283340170102We are back to our busy life halfway around the world. It feels quite different. Not the bad kind of different, but the one that can only be simplified by saying we have a more secured, stronger type of connection. Of course, that includes a new set of endearment and petnames. 😀 and yeah, newer choice of GIFs and emoticons. 😀 We get to talk as much as we did before, only that the topics are more serious than they used to be. Perhaps, because now, the only thing that separates us is the paperwork we both hope will be friendly enough to close the gap.

How did other newly wed couples feel about having to go through the LDR once again?

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How Much is a Kid’s Happiness Worth?

kid's happiness worth.jpg“What do you think can we give the kids?”

“Pencils”, I replied.

He laughed at me in disbelief. 

 

Before Chris flew to meet me the first time, other than the personal things we talked about, our conversation revolves around the topic of kids in my community. He has been reading a lot about the Philippines since the day we started talking. (I was amazed by how much he has known, at least at that point.) Street kids, teenage moms, drugs, homeless people, drunkards and gossipers were just a fraction of these conversations. 😀

Since we both share almost the same childhood experience of struggles and victories, we were talking about doing something good for the kids in the neighborhood. I have to admit I admire him so much more with this. ❤

I was born and raised in  this community and I have seen how fast my former playmates have transformed into teenage moms. While I was busy fighting my own battles to realizing dreams, their kids have also grown as fast as the progress I am making.

So, when Chris asked me what he could possibly bring for the kids, I undoubtedly uttered, “pencils”.

He was stunned. I understand him, though.

He didn’t complain much, anyway. My Deutsch flew with 10 sets of colored pencils; 2 sets for each kid in my mom’s weekend catechism.

Then it was time to meet the kids. He still had his jet lag, but the look in his eyes told me he was even more stunned seeing the kids up close. He stood there for a while, giving me the kind of look as if to confirm these kids are the ones we were talking about. And I just smiled.

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The kiddos couldn’t believe they will receive some presents way ahead of Christmas. Their giggles echoed realizing it is actually from “the  white guy”. They can’t stop feeling the packets, too.

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My mom then came out with an idea of making the kids draw, and handed them pieces of paper. She asked them to make something for Chris.

“But I don’t have a pencil,” uttered one of them. 

There was silence for some seconds, until Chris, realizing that the kids didn’t know what is obviously inside the packets said…

“These are pencils, use these.” 

And the kids started to open the packets, carefully examining the colored pencils and then scribbling cautiously. I saw sadness in Chris’ eyes. I felt the same. In the kindergarten I run, kids have more than enough of these and don’t care much about pencils as much as these kids did.

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So as they were busy drawing on the floor, Chris gave me a tight press on the hand. He then said it is time we give the kids some chocolates. I took the ones he bought especially for them out of the fridge and as the kids are busy, he handed them a small box each. He was then left to wondering again as they don’t seem to be excited about their chocolate packs (Chris read how Pinoys would go crazy for these sweet treat).

“Why are you not eating your chocolates?”, he asked. 

“I will eat this at home with my sister and brother,” answered one of the kids. 

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He ended up going back to the fridge and getting a bigger pack of chocolate which he divided among the kids to eat, with us. As soon as the kids handed their artwork to him, he asked me if it is possible to bring the kids home. I agreed.

We went through the small walkways and reach the house of one of the kids. They were old neighbors who used to share the big playground in the vacant lots some decades back. They were happy to see a foreign guy strolling around this area, trying to have some conversations.

Along the way, Chris couldn’t help but notice the clothes being dried up in the sun. They looked really old and torn.

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We didn’t stay long there. Chris was very silent as we go back home. After dinner, we decided to stroll by the nearby esplanade and as we were walking, he told me how lucky he felt he is, and that his perspective have changed so much.

He was sleepless that night.

He said he never knew what a simple packet of pencil can do to kids like these. It was indeed an awakening for him that what is basically considered “nothing” on his side of the world can make so much difference in mine.

Let’s see what we can do next 🙂

Thanks for dropping by!

LDR: How Photos Fill the Distance and Warm Our Hearts

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I keep myself busy with things to do… But every time I pause, I think of you. 

It is no doubt every relationship is subject to challenges.No matter how smooth the combination goes, couples are bound to face the tests of love. Now put distance in the midst of this reality. That doubles the challenge, right?

When you have some misunderstandings, you better be expressing your thoughts face to face, right? Or, when you  have your daily victories… you wish for a long, warm hug than just the emoticons that say “hug me”, don’t you?

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Just like many other couples,  Chris and I are both busy with our careers. Perhaps, we can only then share the same experience with some, being on the different sides of the planet. Luckily, this distance has never put a toll on us, though. (Thanks, maturity and career!)

What should you do when Google Hangouts or Facebook just aren’t enough? We try to inject fun into it by letting each other into our everyday life. 🙂 More than just the hours of voice and video chats, we share tons of photos!

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Yep. Photos have the unique way of making teleports possible. 🙂 And, we are so lucky technology makes it possible. When we say everyday thing, we mean, every littlest of events.

With these exchanges, we get to share insights on how we and our cultures are similar or different from each other. A picture doesn’t just paint a thousand words, it ignites hundreds of ideas. That bridges the 11,ooo kilometers between us.

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Often, we found ourselves talking about food, introducing to each other some terms and naming ingredients. We would laugh about how many words mean the same in the languages we speak. The topic about food would end up with a competition of who gets to clean the plate faster. 🙂 Of course, I always lose. Haha.

Sharing videos and watching it together was also a thing for us. We love watching short documentaries about the Philippines, the Netherlands and Germany. This sparks some discussions and provides avenues for us to talk about our common interest in culture and people. When one of us feels quite sad, we would watch funny clips and start laughing our hearts out.

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Some days ago, Chris sent me a link to a video showing how beauty is defined in different cultures. He agreed how Pinays would go for the long, straight hair. Of course, this means he pointed out on my appointment with the hairdresser some weeks ago. 🙂 We ended up talking about skin color with him saying there is no such thing as dying over whitening lotion in Europe and that if I should wish for a fairer skin, he has buckets of white paint instead. 🙂

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Daily updates about work are part of the routine. I always believe that when your partner understands the nature of your work, it is easier for them to imagine how your days are like, and accept the fact that the same work can eat so much of your time, too. I am happy he believes in the same, so we ended up looking at what happened to each other in a specific period of time. Time zones always get in between but we keep the fire burning, anyway.
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Perhaps, time zones sucks. You know, when I sleep, he gets home from work. On the same light, he is sleeping by the time I prep for work.  It can be quite outdated compared to the videochats, but photos would always fill the gaps when our schedules don’t seem to jive.

It works for us. How about you? Has LDR ever made you appreciate even the simplest of snaps?

LDR: Huts and the Beach Date

 

huts.jpgI live in a coastal city, and the sea isn’t exactly what I would die so much to see. For me it is no more than a commonplace except of course for beautiful resorts in the island. Anyhow, since we had been to the malls and restaurants for our dates, we suddenly opted for a day trip away from the bustles of the city center. Must I also mention the lack of privacy in the city since we would always meet some of my former students in the university or the parents in the kindergarten? 😀  Yep… we we’re not spared even in Boracay! Haha.

A little privacy not too far from the city. What could be better than a beach just outside the metropolis, right? Chris told me he loves the bamboo houses, so I decided we explore the nearby resort with such to offer.

Since I was on leave from work at this time, we had the opportunity to go on a weekday. Which means, less people on the beach, Yay! Going there on a Tuesday, of course, it was a dream come true! We had the place to ourselves. 🙂 Such a delight.

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As an added perk, the girl at the  reception did not charge us a fee for using the bamboo cottages since we were the only visitors. Finally! The chance to talk about many things without the disruptions!

Since it was quite a hot day, we chose to do a little hut-hopping. C was so happy to finally see these big bamboo houses! Back home, he would fix buildings’ interiors and facades and the huts are something which he always wanted to see up close. Yep, he was studying how these adorable abodes are put together.

Our verdict: This definitely is our dream house in PH!

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other than the houses, C couldn’t help but admire the colors of the sea! There must have been something special with the water on this part of the world. The different shades of blue and green are so relaxing. And enticing too.

This was also C’s first time to go on a beach in the Philippines. Some time after lunch, the sun had been forgiving and decided to hide behind the clouds. We took this opportunity to stroll by the sea! His first reaction? “Wow! The water is warm!” which I retorted with, “Of course! The seawater is always warm.”For me, it has always been like this. It was only in that moment I knew that despite my love for geography, I never really read about how cold the seas can get in Europe.

Yep, you bet, C had been soaking his feet in the water all throughout the stretch of our walk by the beach. 🙂

The point we had laughed about? The contrast of the skin color and our differing ways of using our flipflops! 🙂 Comparing our feet after walking, he would snort while telling me I how an expert I am on this flipflops as there was not so much sand on my wet feet. 😀

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A date on the beach isn’t a bad idea after all. Other than being a cheaper option to a fancy restaurant date, it helps your “imported” beau to see places where locals go. Believe me, he would love the natural views of the local spots than the fully commercialized resorts. 🙂

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Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

Funny Valentine’s Day

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I know this was quite late to post something about Valentine’s Day. Today though, a friend asked me how romantic the German guy can be. And, this got me thinking. 🙂 Of course, Chris had been a very good combination of being romantic, loving, protective, objective and practical. I like these traits a lot.

But last Valentine’s Day, a day many women in a relationship would look forward to in the Philippines, he told me.. “Sorry mahal, I didn’t know it was a big thing there. You know, I will give something that makes you happy at anytime… not on the day people expect men to give something to women.” Of course, I was half-expecting this reaction. I was not broken-hearted though. 🙂 Every single year, my table in the office would be full of individual red roses, chocolates of all sizes, and some gifts.

It is not what you think. Haha. My students, the kids at the kindergarten and their parents would make this possible. So, what is there to grieve? I went home like I had three boyfriends at once. Haha.

A week before Hearts’ Day, a very good friend of mine who happens to be a former colleague in the academe had asked me a favor. What she wanted was for me to hint her boyfriend that  she would love to receive a bouquet of flowers. The guy is also my friend, so why not? I obliged.  But when I told this story to Chris, he thought I was trying to play on him. 😀 (Although maybe a portion of the conversation had this motive, too. winks) He told me… “This isn’t gonna work, mahal.” So, of course, I expected nothing. Haha.

So, as an answer to my friend, I said, “Germans can be romantic in a different way. I guess not the way we expected, but this makes them quite special too.” I am curious of your thoughts on this. 🙂