Neal and I met at the Mean Fiddler an Irish bar located a few blocks from Times Square in September 2010. Neal was on holiday with his friend Stu who traveled from the UK to see American sights. Little did he know, that night he would meet the love of his life.
I myself was on a business trip, tired and not interested in being “cute”, but I doned a peacock feather that night to add some flair to my outfit. I strode up to the bar and ordered a beer (something I have done a million times over) and began to strike up a conversation with these two friendly British gents.
Three hours later, I was handing off my business card to Neal with my cell phone number scribbled on the back. I walked out of the bar, thinking that I would never hear back from this nice guy. Three days later, there was an e-mail from Neal in my work e-mail account. I was surprised and flattered that he remembered me.
From that first e-mail our lives were changed forever.
We entered our long distance relationship utilizing every tool and technology possible. Communicating on a daily basis through e-mailing, Skype or cell phone allowed us to get to know one another without distractions or hesitations. Soon, Neal came out to the United States to visit me for his birthday… then again for three weeks at Christmas time.
He survived meeting the family, in fact he fit right in. After our first New Year’s kiss, we knew that we were going to have many more in our future.
Plans were set for my spring trip to the UK, with the countdown set to go. We began talking about our future…engagement and marriage. Neal asked me what my ideal ring would be, and I sent him a picture of a ring. Within weeks, a packaged was delivered to me. The idea we had would be to have the ring size and insured prior to my trip to the UK. I would pass of the ring to Neal, who would ask when he was ready.
That evening while we were on video Skype, I tried on the ring for size. It was perfect. Seeing that moment, Neal knew that he couldn’t wait 2 months to ask me to marry him… he had to right then and there. So, even with 4,200 miles keeping us apart Neal asked me to marry him with my reply being ,” Are you serious?” Once I realized that he was, I shed some tears…smiled and said, “Yes!”
From February 2011, I began planning the wedding of our dreams. Bringing together family and friends, plus traditions from both our cultures: America and Wales. In addition to planning our wedding, we began to have the conversation about where should reside? America or Wales? The research and the planning was thoughtful and careful, we are talking about one major life decision.
In the fall of 2011, we made the decision for me to apply for visa allowing me to move to the United Kingdom to live and work as an American expat. Both of us began to collect information for my application, from airplane tickets to finger prints, we jumped through every hoop possible. Once the application was submitted, all I could do as a Type- A personality was sit back and wait. (Which I did not enjoy.) For me, I was juggling wedding planning, a long distance relationship and the ambiguity of post-wedding plans.
We received confirmation that my visa in fact was approved April 2012 (about 2 1/2 months since the application was submitted). From that moment, I knew that my life was about to be changed forever. Wedding planning was well underway, the packing began and I prepared to leave the life I knew in America to transition into the life of an expat.
On May 26, 2012, Neal and I celebrated on our wedding day with about 60 close friends and family in Spokane, Washington. The day was filled with laughter, friendship, love and a million memories. I will cherish that day for the rest of my life.
Honeymoon? Vacation? What’s that? Right after the wedding, we had four days to clear out my apartment. Nothing like starting off a new marriage with packing and cleaning for three days straight. After settling the practicals, we had about a week to bid farewell to friends and family before setting off for the United Kingdom on June 10.
With that, I have been an expat since the beginning of the summer of 2012. Now, no longer in a long distance relationship, we are learning how be simply “be”. This blog is a small attempt to make sense of life as a wife and expat.
Want to read more about our long distance relationship, plus some advice for making it through a LDR? Catch up with some of my fave relationship posts here!
Or, do you have questions about my LDR experience, moving to a new country or my visa paperwork process? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a little note below, and I will get back to you as quickly as I can!