Some of you might know our story. And others might not. Our story isn’t like many others. You see, I met my husband while studying abroad on a gorgeous land filled with the most beautiful turquoise beaches, soft sand, kangaroos, large spiders, and a red desert in the middle of the country. It was at the University of The Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
It all started out as a friendship. But when I reconnected with him at church, I knew he was a catch. But I am an old-school kind of girl and wouldn’t be the type to ask someone out or walk up and talk to someone because I thought they were cute. (haha…) So I figured I’d wait. While at church that day I saw an ad for the church hip-hop worship team. I’d always been interested in dance and was involved in it back home. So I asked my friend about it and she said, “Oh, Johan is involved in that. You should ask him about it for more information.” Now I had a reason to talk to him.
I went up and talked to him with my friend. He told me the date and place when it takes place. He also said, while giving me his phone number, “If you can’t find a ride, let me know and I can pick you up.”
And so what did I do? What any respectful girl who wants to get to know a cute boy, would do. I didn’t ask anyone else. Then I reached out to him and asked if I could get a ride with him! Yep, that’s what I did.
The Un-dates & A Paramore Concert
After a few months of un-dates (we called them that because it totally was dating, but we were unaware of it at that stage, I think.) like dancing on the beach, writing “love” letters back and forth, painting on the beach, hand holding, Hillsong church, and a Paramore concert.
Then on the day after the Paramore concert, we got pizza and went to Dulong Lookout to have a picnic at night. I still remember how the lights from the Sunshine Coast area below matched the twinkling of the stars above. We talked about our dreams and everything we enjoyed while eating. Then the defining moment came.
We lay on a blanket staring up at the stars. Johan grabbed my hand. There was a quiet moment between us as a question lingered in the calm and cool air.
“What are we?” Johan asked me.
“Uhhh, I don’t know.” I said, while kind of wondering the same thing.
“Wait, no, how about I ask this, will you be my girlfriend?”
I smiled and responded, “Yes.”
And from that moment on, we were inseparable. We’d spent a ton of time at the beach and hanging out with friends at coffee shops in Mooloolaba. Making sure that we spent as much time together as possible before I had to go home. We knew what we were getting ourselves into with the long-distance relationship ahead of us, but yet who completely knows what to expect with a long-distance relationship especially if you’ve never been in one?
The Long-Distance Years
January of 2011, I had to go back home to finish my last semester of college. I remember it all like it was yesterday. That “summer” for the Sunshine Coast was a really wet and rainy one. When Johan drove me to the airport, we barely made it to the airport, because it was raining so heavily. I got back to cold snow. So funny, how one day you can be sitting on a beach sunburning and the other you can be sitting in a hot tub with your hair freezing.
Goodbyes are never something that a person looks forward too, especially someone in a long-distance relationship. Because sometimes you don’t know when you’ll see each other again. This one was a big one, because it was the first time we would say goodbye to each other at the airport.
I still remember us hugging each other. I was shaking inside as tears fell. We kissed each other and then Johan said “The sooner you leave, the sooner we will see each other again.” It was a saying in his family. One I’ve heard plenty since that first goodbye.
Once I got to my seat on the place, I found an envelope in my bag from Johan. Inside was a love letter and pictures. I started crying. People were probably wondering what was wrong. But I tried hiding it, with my pillow in front of my face. How could one handle this kind of pain. My heart hurt so badly. I was about to fly away from the man I loved.
Not sure when we’d see each other again.
Not sure, how it all would play out.
Not sure how long this whole long-distance thing would continue.
Not sure how long until we’d finally be together.
Many thoughts, worries, and questions spun through my mind. But I knew how much I loved him. I was prepared to go the distance for him. And in the long run, we made it work. 🙂
After College & Expat Living
When I graduated college, I got a work and travel visa in Australia and went to live there for a year. It was a great time that I got to spend a lot of time with Johan and I also got to know his parents better.
I got a flat in Brisbane, Australia and worked part-time as a secretary for a therapist. Which was quite interesting. I got used to traveling around by bus and train. And we also made a fun trip up to the Blue Mountains near Sydney with our friends, and my sister.
She came to visit us for a few weeks. It was fun having her there. When it came time for her to go home, it was really sad to say goodbye.
Like I said, goodbyes are hard. Airports used to be a place where I could go magical new places, but they had since turned into a place that I’d always have to say goodbye to people I love. So anytime I ended up at an airport, my stomach would fill with butterflies or nervousness. I swear the butterflies had little knives.
After that lovely year in the sun with Johan, I had to go home again.
Skype, Letters, & Visits
Throughout the 5.5 years, we Skyped a lot, but I’d have to say that what really helped was when we both got iPhones. iMessage and FaceTime really helped the distance not feel so far. The time zone on the other end made it feel really hard sometimes. It was 16hours time difference between Johan and I, with him in Brisbane, Australia and me being in Minnesota and North Dakota. There was a time that I was a little closer, when I moved to Las Vegas to work as an editor at a children’s magazine.
Throughout the 5.5 years we probably saw each other in person 9 times in total. NINE TIMES, you guys! Over a 5.5 year span.
The Proposal & South Africa & What Happens In Vegas
In 2014, we got engaged. But I had no idea it was about to happen. Johan worked with my family to plan the whole thing. He came for a surprise visit.
For more on our proposal story, you can read that here. It was really romantic. He was only here for a short while to propose, but it was well planned.
Then we decided to go to South Africa for Christmas in 2015. We were there for the whole month of December. It was a wonderful time to meet Johan’s sister and grandparents as well.
Then after South Africa, is when I moved to Las Vegas. It was a fun adventure. I had an especially fun time when Johan came to visit me there. We took off on adventures every weekend and had some funny stories and memories.
But 6 months later, a job offer pulled me back to the midwest. I enjoyed the temperature in the midwest a bit better.
It was in Vegas where we started our immigration packet as well as started planning for our wedding. I still remember our Skype sessions of going through the paperwork. It was a long and tedious job. Phew.
Happily Ever After
Johan finally arrived back in the States for good on March 31st, 2016. We were so happy to FINALLY. YES. FINALLY be together.
Do you know anyone in a long-distance relationship? Or that was in a long-distance relationship, but is now together?