When the life with your partner and your life as an individual collides, which wins out? At what point do you sacrifice or alter your life ambitions for the one you love? I feel like I’ve hit a point in my delightful and extremely loving relationship where that question needs answering in a big way. This sounds like a Sex and the City column, but in all seriousness…
Last night, roughly a year from my current visa expiring, I started looking into extending my stay in the UK. I quickly found out it was not only possible, it seemed quite straight forward. I felt a sense of relief – whatever happened, I could stay here with Jack. Also, a sense of dread – now there’s nothing forcing me to leave, I might not end up going home in a year. What ensued was a tearful and shitty conversation with Jack about what the future holds for us both.
First, a bit of context. Jacks father had a stroke in January, 2011. In that time, he’s been in intensive care for 3 months, and in serious hospital care for an additional two months. He came home from hospital at the end of May, and has been cared for round-the-clock by Jacks mum and by NHS carers that come four times a day. His progress has been existent but very slow, and the family is just starting to realize how long a road this may be until his Dad isn’t dependant on others for everyday tasks. This progress might never happen though, he may never be independent.
This whole situation causes a couple of issues- one in the short-term and a larger one in the long-term.
First, the short-term. With his Dads illness, Jack has been spending lots of time at his folks house – helping with his Dads caring. Needless to say, the whole situation has taken a lot out of Jack and his family, and moving closer to his parents might help alleviate some stress. The issue with that option is Jack and my priorities in life. We value spending time outdoors, as well as a sense of community that we relate to – be it outdoorsy folk or fellow hippie types. Keswick has both of these things, yet any areas close to Jacks folks really wouldn’t. If we move closer, we risk losing our own priorities and what we enjoy in life, and if we don’t, Jack risks running himself ragged travelling back and forth constantly.
The long term issue has to do with that sense of dread I get when thinking about further visa applications past my current one which ends in a year. The plan has always been for Jack to come to live with me in Canada at the end of my visa. With the slow progress of his father, and the harsh realities of caring for a disabled person 24-7, we’ve had to consider the likelihood of Jack moving back to his folks’ to help with caring instead of coming back to Canada with me.
As much as I knew this was an option in the back of my head, it didn’t really hit me until I started looking at additional visas. I think about a year from now and I don’t imagine Jacks dad being well enough for independence. I don’t see him being at a point where Jack will feel comfortable only seeing them once or twice a year, which is what would happen if he lived in Canada with me. Maybe it’s just me and my tendency towards pessimism – he could make a miraculous recovery in a years time. But if he doesn’t, we need to think about the options.
This is where my stomach drops and I feel anxious just thinking about the future. I was so excited about moving back to B.C. with Jack – to really start a life over there with him. We’d try living somewhere like Nelson, or the Sea to Sky corridor, or mid-Vancouver Island and finally get on with everything. Have a proper place to ourselves, have a garden, learn some self-sufficiency, plan mountain biking adventures, visit my parents and my sister, get involved in a real way in the community over a couple years and accomplish goals. Maybe even get proper ‘adult’ employment that we both find meaningful.
I have always thought of myself living in British Columbia. I completely fell in love when I moved there seven years ago. I have amazing friends all over the province, I have various areas and towns I would be delighted to live in, and there are countless adventures around BC and throughout Canada that I desperately want to experience. It really is my home.
Now, with Jacks dad being ill, the two loves of my life are in conflict. Jack and I have only been together for two years, but when I envision my life, I see it with him by my side. We were separated for three months last summer, in between our visas, and it really felt like something integral was missing in my life. What I love about our relationship is the day to day – going to sleep beside him every night, waking up next to him every morning, bike rides, cooking, adventures, talks, and everything in between. I’ve always thought having a long-distance relationship was a bit of an oxymoron – it really isn’t a fulfilling relationship in my head if you can’t see each other regularily.
I feel a bit lost with all these conflicting emotions. I need to go back to Canada for a bit- maybe for a visit, maybe for a few months- just to get a better perspective on what I’d like for my life for the next few years. Booooof. Love is complicated, isn’t it?