This blog post was written from both the male and female perspective. Each partner sent in their version of how they met separately. Below is their story.
I remember listening to my cousin, with my mouth half open, while she was talking about her adventures in the United States. She went with the Work and Travel Program (for those who are not familiar, it is a summer-long program that allows college students from around the world to spend 3 months working summer jobs in the USA). I was not in college yet but I had decided then and there that I was totally doing that one day! Sounds perfect for a Turkish girl like me who’s always been a close follower of American pop culture and a love for traveling.
Because of mandatory internships in college, I could only go in 2014, my last chance, my last summer possible. Even though I was technically not a student anymore (I had thrown my graduation cap hours before the flight) somehow I managed to make it to the United States. Right out of 4 years of tough architecture school and not having had many relationships in the past, my priority of going there was nowhere near “Imma get me a guy!” In fact, that was the last thought in my mind. My head sounded a bit more like, “Yaas I’m finally doing this! I so need this getaway. I will make my own money and travel the shit out of this summer! Where will I go? New York? LA? Vegas? Or maybe…all? Time to finally let myself relax and have some fun.” But of course I didn’t know life had its own twisted plans.
My location was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina working in an amusement center called WonderWorks. Almost the whole staff were people like me from all over the world like Ecuador, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Ireland and more. I met everyone either at work or at parties but I can’t, for the life of me, remember the first time I met Andrés. Well, he says that’s because I was a little drunk at one of the Ecuadorian house parties. He tells me I kept asking his name and how to pronounce it like 20 times. (I guess we’re gonna have to trust him on that story!) But we didn’t see or talk to each other much later on.
In fact, the reason I started seeing more of Andrés was because he liked one of my Turkish friends and well, she liked him, too. So basically, I was “matchmaker” for them! I didn’t know much about him, but he was already labeled “off limits” in my head. He did end up going on a couple of innocent dates with the said friend but that was all.
Around August, completely by coincidence, we went to Myrtle Beach together with a couple of mutual friends. That was when we had the chance to chat properly for the first time. You could probably hear the “click” between us. But since I’m so lucky, those were his final days and he had to go back home to Ecuador. So when he would flirt with me (being a Latino with probably too many compliments to throw around), I just laughed those off.
We dropped him at the airport and it was time to say goodbye. I really hate goodbyes. Everyone hugged with the superficial promises of “I will visit your country! I will see you again one day, my friend!” I just knew nobody really meant it. So all we said was “Wish we started to get to know each other a little earlier. But anyways, good luck with life…dude.”
After he left, I worked until September and started my travels around the USA for almost a month. And yes: New York, LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon…I did it all! In October, I finally came back to Turkey. I kept in touch with a lot of people on Facebook, so one day, completely platonically, I decided to say just a quick “Hey, what’s up?” to Andrés.
People, be careful who you say “Hey, what’s up?” to. Because my “hey” ended up starting a non-stop, 24/7 conversation about nothing and everything for over a year and a half. Because that “hey” ended up giving me a friend that I wanted to share every single thing with (from how my day sucked to the hilarious cat video I just saw). Thanks to that “hey,” I woke up smiling everyday seeing his silly messages. All this time I managed to keep a friendly tone even though after a while it got harder since he started changing his tone from subtle to more obvious flirting. I, of course, kept trying to laugh it off. I didn’t want our conversations to go down that road because come on… it was impossible we’d ever be able to have a relationship! Right? So I didn’t want to mess up the connection we built in this most inconvenient way.
Until one day, he put his foot down and directly asked me to be his girlfriend. I was shushing my heart and using my logic on turbo mode. So I said I couldn’t just say “yes” to that. He said he was going to visit his sister in Switzerland and wanted to come see me in Turkey, too. Well, I couldn’t say no to that. I didn’t think we could really end up having a relationship, but I really wanted to see him. I needed to spend time with him in person to see if there was really something…
Let me tell you, there was everything.
When he came to visit in February 2016, I went from hopeless to hit by happiness like a bullet in the head. We just HAD TO make it work ‘cause it felt too good not to fight for it. But I told him I needed a light at the end of the tunnel because if we don’t have a plan whatsoever, we’ll both get devastated when the distance eventually eats our relationship away.
We both had been entertaining the idea of a Master’s study in Europe for a while. So we sealed the deal with a kiss and jumped into the scary unknown waters of our Long Distance Romance. Our days of travelling around in Turkey came to an end, and if I thought that airport goodbye in Myrtle Beach was hard, boy was I in for a huge surprise on this one! I’m talking his-passport-on-the-table-getting-wet-from-my-tears kinda hard. As he went home across the ocean, seven thousand miles away, our official LDR journey had begun.
And now, of course, it was a whole new level of conversation, flying high on cloud nine. I felt like the world’s luckiest and unluckiest girl, because something so good was somewhere so far away.
Of course, the distance did bring some occasional tribulations with it. Well, I guess nobody really knows how this is supposed to work until they find themselves in it. Good thing is, trust has never been an issue between us. But over time, we learned the importance of making time for each other as much as we can. Especially when you have an 8-hour-difference in time zones. It’s freaking tough to sync your daily routines! My breakfast time: he’s sleeping, his lunch time: I already had dinner, he’s finally off work and free: whoops, my time for bed already. How we eventually managed to deal with it is to take every single tiny opportunity we get to call. Sometimes when I walk to work, sometimes during his lunch break, and we try our best not to put big plans on weekends so that we can make movie dates and long video calls (like several hours), which are my favorite time of the week. We also learned it’s crucial not to get resentful if the other one has plans somewhere or something comes up and we can’t call. Because again, it’s impossible to sync our lives, things will always come up. Respect and understanding is the key, and I think we’ve been doing pretty well so far.
Another sucky part is having most of our talks by text. Even though texting is useful for keeping a constant conversation anywhere, anytime, things can get mixed up when it comes to written language. You don’t even have to be from different cultures or communicating in a language that’s not your native like us. Texting still doesn’t give you enough range of expression. Sometimes not being able to see the face, hear the tone of voice, or touch each other at that moment, can be the fuel to the fire of an argument. (Usually caused by a tiny thing where it would have ended a long time ago if we were side by side.) Misunderstandings are a challenge, but it’s always a relief when we both take a moment to think and agree that we’re worth more than whatever that tiny thing was. (And don’t forget to seal it with a kiss emoji!)
I was lucky enough to go visit him in Ecuador, too! Although I had problems with transit visas from Europe, plane tickets wasted, burnt my arm and hurt my back the first day there, and getting searched for drugs when I got back to Turkey, I spent the most incredible 2 weeks of my life. I got to see his home, his beautiful country, meet his family and two doggies, but best of all have my favorite person in the world all for myself.
During the time we spent apart, we both worked our butts off, researching for our Masters, taking courses, taking language tests, and saving money. It has been a tough journey but we got through it with each other’s support. We both applied for the universities that were best for ourselves, and waited and waited and waited for the results… And now we are very proud to announce: We both made it!! He will start his Masters on Finance in Liechtenstein and I will be starting mine on Architecture in Milano, Italy!
Yes, the distance is not zero (yet) and even this might seem like a “long” distance relationship to some people, but it’s nothing compared to what we’ve been dealing with for this 17 month crazy love story. He has been there for me all this time. Despite his physical absence, he has been there for me way more than the people who were physically present next to me. He has been there when I ended friendships, when I had deaths in family, and when I quit smoking (which was something I couldn’t have done without his support). Even just for that I will forever be thankful for the amazing person he is.
So yeah, we are going from having the whole ocean to just a 4-hour bus ride between us. If that’s not a victory, I don’t know what is. (I mean, we’ll be in the SAME time zone!) We don’t know what the future has in store for us, and I’m no fortune-teller but (besides the tough-ass studies awaiting both of us), I’m seeing lots of stupid laughs, tight hugs, countless kisses, new adventures and lots and lots of travels. Because why wouldn’t we make the world our playground now when we’ve already made seven thousand miles seem like no biggie, right?
For starters I am not a huge talker or a people person. I don´t go around talking to everybody and it is really hard for me to maintain a quality conversation with somebody. Don´t get me wrong haha I have friends and I go out, but when it gets to 1 on 1 conversations, it’s different.
Before this, I just had 1 long lasting relationship that went around a year and 8 months. But in the summer of 2014, I decided to go for the last chance I had to try the work and travel experience. Actually the day I took the plane I broke up with that long lasting relationship I told you about. Anyway, I went to Myrtle Beach to work at Wonderworks, an amusement park.
Long story short I started dating this Turkish girl. She was a little shy. At first, she rejected me by the way hahaha but a little insisting did the trick and she finally said yes. Also, I think a little bit of the pushing of her friends helped with that. This was the best thing that happened to me, because this girl ……. was Toprak´s friend hahahaha and that brought me to her.
We didn´t hang out much with Toprak, just a couple of times. But during my last days, we hung out more, but just as friends
After I came back to Ecuador she sent me a picture. A sexy one, No, not really, haha, it was a picture from her adventures. Out of the blue we were talking 24/7 nonstop, tons and tons of laughs coming and going. At some point I started wanting her to be my girlfriend. I was aware of the distance, but I wasn´t thinking about it. I just wanted to be with her. So I started flirting with her little by little, but wasn´t too successful. Actually it took over 8 months.
Luckily, my sister got a job in Switzerland and I took that as an opportunity to detour through Turkey. This was a really important trip to make since that is what made her finally accept being my girlfriend. Actually I found out she was my girlfriend, she just let me know she was my girlfriend. Then she visited me in Ecuador and met my family, although two weeks wasn´t enough. The last day she was here, we were actually so full for trying to get her to try all of the traditional foods!
And finally we´ve come to the present point. I think I’m very lucky because she never gets boring. It´s always good to talk to her, I love her ideas, how her brain works, her humor, and her determination to quit smoking! She was a big time smoker when I met her, and just overnight she decided to quit, and she nailed it!!!! So, so proud of her for that. In fact, tomorrow (21st) it will be her 10th smoke-free month and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of her. Love her so much! We have been talking every single day since February 2015 and I like it. I enjoy her a lot. When there are small spaces I have, I try to talk to her. And on weekends, we both try to watch movies together, even though I’m just a fan of movies, and she’s a fan of the industry. She knows everything about it: who married who, writers, directors, the whole thing! I just like to watch the movies.
In the end, I’ve learned that long distance relationships are possible. Regardless if it´s a long distance, I have learned a lot with her and from her. I admire her a great deal and wouldn’t go through this with anyone else. She complements me in every way. She has aspects of her personality that I would like to have myself, and I hope that along the way I acquire some of them. She is so patient with me and understands me like no one else.
You can follow Toprak and Andre’s love story on their Instagram: @seven_thousand_miles