I’ve been back in the States for almost 2 weeks now. Canim’s birthday is next week, and I am feeling like a lousy fiance for being away from him for the second birthday in a row, especially because he made my birthday so special this year and last year.
To be fair, I had given him a pretty awesome early birthday present in May, but that’s not the same as opening a present on your real birthday. Of course, birthdays don’t seem to be a big deal in Turkey, or at least not as big as they are here. But his birthday is a big deal to me.
So, I have experience shipping things to Turkey via FedEx. Each time, they told me it would take 3 days to arrive. Today, the FedEx employee told me it would take 3 days for Canim’s gift to arrive. Perfect! It would arrive early, even factoring in tomorrow’s holiday (Independence Day).
After it took me about ten minutes to figure out the freaking zip code for Canim’s office (I feel like the Turkish postal service delivers more efficiently to businesses than homes), I finally filled out the form and prepared to pay through the nose for shipping.
FedEx Man: “Okay the total comes to [one arm, one leg, and your firstborn child], and it is all set to arrive on Thursday, July 10th.”
Me: [cue the screechy “Psycho” sound in the background] “THURSDAY? No no. It must get there by Wednesday afternoon, the absolute latest. And Wednesday afternoon THEIR time. How much is it to expedite it?”
FedEx Man: “Sorry. That’s as fast as we can send it. The only other option is to go to JFK airport and try to get it to the FedEx terminal…”
Me: [no words. Just lots and lots of tears, sniffling, maybe even some whimpering] “But his birthday is on Wednesday and I thought it would only take 3 days…”
FedEx Man: “Umm…oh wait! Maybe I can get it there on Tues– nope. Sorry. Just Thursday.”
I don’t even remember paying or signing the receipt. I left with my face in my hands and I stood outside sobbing (did I really need to do that?) and I immediately messaged Canim to spoil the birthday surprise and let him know that I am a crappy fiance who can’t even reciprocate thoughtfulness and careful planning.
Of course, he was gracious and didn’t even understand why I bought him more presents. He cheered me up, but I still cried on the way home.
So why am I telling you this? Because if you’re following my blog, you have some kind of interest in the details of international relationships, and this is an aspect of it that is so unromantic and sucky.
To maintain an “international relationship”, you have to forfeit a lot of things that other people get to enjoy regularly. You miss things. Birthdays, holidays, milestones. If you’re not missing your spouse’s events, you’re missing your niece’s first day of preschool, her triumph over potty training, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving…you’ll always be missing something, somewhere. But that is a choice that we all have to make.
Ultimately, when my heart breaks into a million pieces, as it does from time to time when I have to miss things, I ask myself,”Would I trade my relationship with Canim in exchange for not missing these things?” The answer is always,”No, I wouldn’t. And stop asking yourself that stupid question!”
“International relationships” (can we think of a better term??) are romantic and adventurous, but when we choose to take them on, we also choose to take on hardship. The key is to figure out (sooner rather than later) if you’d be willing to exchange that hardship for a life without the other person.
When the relationship is right, the answer ought to be a resounding “no”.