I know all about long distance love. To some extent, it has been the story of my life and the story of my family’s life. My mother came to the UK from the Netherlands in the 1950s and as time went by she gradually lost contact with all of her relatives and friends. She would see her mother maybe once a year, her brother not at all. My father later emigrated to Canada following the break of the marriage to my mother. His family, including his parents and me, would be lucky to see him once a year and sometimes the gaps were much longer than that. Absence may make the heart grow fonder but sometimes it can break it.
Today, it’s as complicated as ever. I have two half-brothers who live in Vancouver. The best we can do is speak on Skype or send emails. Of course, these options are better than nothing, yet would never choose to make these your only methods of keeping contact.
Long ago, I briefly considered emigrating, mainly to change my life for the better and to get some guaranteed sun on my back. The feeling passed quickly as I learned to love Britain’s erratic maritime climate, almost as much as I loved the sun. The sun alone could not replace everything I loved about England.
I would not recommend being away from family, friends and home to anyone. Yes, carbon heavy solutions are available to shrink distances between loved ones. It’s not the same and it’s not as good. Happily for me, my dad came to visit from Canada to see his parents and me, as well as scores of long lost cousins and friends. I never saw him in Canada on a single occasion between 1975 and 2004.
When my dad got seriously ill in early 2011, I was torn between going to visit him one last time, potentially throwing me into considerable debt at a time when my children needed financial and personal support more than ever and hoping that he would recover and I’d see him in more normal circumstances. Then, his health deteriorated and he died. Miles had kept us apart. I am not sure I will ever come to terms with the decisions I made back then. It reinforced my strong desire to remain as close to my family as possible.
Planned visits are better than nothing, a week or two, now and then, to see the people you love most. However, nothing can beat the feeling of a quick drive or bus or train ride to be among family.
This is about me, not you. It’s just how I feel about wanting to be as near as possible to those I love. It’s why two or three weeks a year in the sun is plenty for me. It is different for everyone. I know people who had such a strong desire to live on the other side of world, or just Europe, they simply could not resist. They are not better or worse people than me, I doubt that they love their friends and family any less than I do.
Britain, even in the mess it is today, is still where I want to be. There are places I want to see but only one place I want to live. Come rain or shine, and it’s usually the former, I’m happy here and I don’t want to live anywhere else.