I’d just like to start this off by saying,
Yes, long distance relationships work.
Maybe it helped that Ray grew up with my brother and that, to this day, I’ve known him for about 15 years now. Nonetheless, long distance relationships require more patience than I ever thought I was capable of and a lot of hard work on both ends. I can’t stress enough the amount of trust, faith, communication and devotion that went into making our relationship work and, most of all, last. Simply put, this relationship was probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.
And guess that? The work doesn’t stop. It shouldn’t.
Ray was the same age/grade as my brother so they were really close friends and still are today (thank goodness, lol, but that story is later!). They were three years older than me and, when I started junior high and high school, they had already graduated so I didn’t get the chance to be in the same school as Ray at the same time. I knew him because he, as well as a few other boys, were always at our house after school or on the weekends hanging out with my brother and playing video games. He was always ‘just one of my brother’s friends’. Being a younger sibling and a brat, I always thought ‘ew, older boys’ growing up, lol. It was that type of mentality I had towards him (and the rest of my brother’s friends) throughout elementary and junior high!
When I was about 15, my brother was 18 and at the age of graduating high school. Ray and his family ended up moving out of Winnipeg and to Edmonton around that time. However, for months following, and years, Ray visited many times and often stayed with us during his short visits. My room was upstairs and he would stay in a room downstairs with my brother. There were times where my brother was out at work and Ray would just be downstairs, probably gaming? since that’s all they really did, lol. I never wanted to go downstairs and keep him company because: 1) my dad would be home and think it’d be weird of me to go downstairs and start talking to Ray because I never really interacted with him before, and 2) Ray and I never really actually ‘talked’ – like I said, growing up I had that ‘ew’ mentality, until I turned about 18 years old.
Whenever he came to visit and stay at our place, I would just occasionally say hi if I happened to see him in the house but, again, didn’t really make any effort to talk to him since he was always busy with my brother or out hanging with his friends. As I grew older and had a career in the works, my brother and I grew closer together than we ever were when we were kids. As a result, I’d go hangout with him and his then fiance and their friends, including Ray. I remember times where my brother would ask me to go have lunch/dinner with them because Ray was in town visiting and they were all going to grab a bite. Naturally, I would, especially if I wasn’t busy and had no plans. Through those mutual hangouts was when I realized how funny Ray was and such a fun guy to be around and also a great friend to my brother and their crew. No more elementary ‘ew that’s my brother’s friend’ mentality at this point! I remember a time when I had just purchased my car, which was a Mazda 3, and Ray was in town. When Ray heard that I had bought my first car and what it was, he made a comment that ‘only dimes drive Mazdas’, lol – which in proper English, ‘dimes’ would refer to good-looking girls. Well, thanks Ray! lol.
In summer of 2012, Ray was Winnipeg for his best friend’s wedding. I was at work when my brother’s fiance at the time called me and said they were going for dinner later that evening because Ray was in town. What caught me a bit off guard was that she mentioned ‘Ray was wondering if you wanted to come’ — Ray and I weren’t really friends, more like friends through my brother at that point, and we hadn’t really carried a conversation before, but it was kinda nice to know that I was wanted, haha :p
We went to a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant later that evening with my brother, Ray and a bunch of their other friends. Lo and behold, Ray and I ended up sitting next to each other. Not sure how it all came about but I found him asking me for help on his speech for their friend’s wedding that weekend. I remember grabbing his BlackBerry and typing out basically his entire speech, lol. We had a few laughs and jokes doing it and, of course, some of his friends started to notice and even cracked a joke about getting together. My instinct response? “Ew no”, whereas Ray just laughed it off. It was really after this evening hanging out with him that I started to develop a more ‘friend’ view of Ray, not just ‘my brother’s friend’.
(At the night of the actual wedding, Ray had sent me a message saying he managed to do his speech like I wrote it… after he had a couple of shots of alcohol, lol.)
It was that same weekend we ended up hanging out again but, this time, at one of their other friend’s house, for their daughter’s birthday. I remember we were drinking and watching the Manny Pacquiao fight in their garage and Ray and I were sitting next to each other .. not sure why or how that happened. Someone had mentioned that we were out of Grey Goose Vodka, and someone should go grab another bottle. Ray volunteered and, surprise surprise, he asked me to go with him! Again, kinda caught off guard, but what the helll, lol. And, of course, people started ‘ooohing’ and making jokes. Yes, I was pretty cheesed.
After he had left Winnipeg, he and I began interacting on Twitter (of all places!). It got to a lot of interacting that I was sick of tweeting so I said ‘here’s my number, just text me!’.. and that’s how it all came to be.
After about a month or two of interacting with each other, we established that we had feelings for each other. We starting having dates on Skype and getting to know each other so much more. I remember basically telling him everyone I’ve dated and slept with and I loved that he was so attentive to everything and was even asking questions :p I had no problem telling him about my past nor was I scared of what he was going to think about me. Sure, I’m not proud of some things I did in my adolescent years, but that’s the past and definitely not who I am today. I wasn’t ashamed of anything I told him and pretty much left no detail out. I loved our Skype dates! We even slept through our sessions and ended up waking up to each other!! I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t wait to get home from work everyday because it meant a Skype date with Ray.
When we discussed that we should probably let my brother know, Ray couldn’t be in town to tell him with me so I had to do it myself. It was my brother’s going-away party for the Canadian Navy the night I told him. He was very drunk, lol. Of course, his fiance a the time decided it’d be a great time to just tell him at that moment. So, she sat my brother down and I mentioned that I had something important to tell him, and the conversation went a little like this:
Brother: What is it?
Me: Um, Ray and I are like…..this now *crossing fingers indicating how close we are*
Brother: Wait, WHAAAAAAAAAAT!?!?
… and he jumped up and looked like he was about to sock my in the face, lol. BUT one of his friends sat him down and said, ‘who would you rather have date your sister? Some stranger or your friend who you trust completely?’ At that point, all resentment vanished from my brother’s face hahah. I had told Ray what happened and how he reacted and he just laughed. I think we both expected that kind of reaction from my brother. After all, Ray broke the ‘bro code’ :p
Let’s just say, the next few months weren’t easy in terms of getting my brother to get comfortable with the idea of one of his best friends now dating his sister. Not to mention, the rest of the boys in their group were all shocked and surprised lol. Ray hadn’t dated anyone either ever, or in a long time, and so I was basically the first for his everything. I remember one of the guys saying ‘you don’t date in a long time and you come back to Winnipeg and we find out you’re dating Cherrie?!?’ … trust me, I was in no way offended by any comment because I just found it all to be hilarious. Everything was unexpected, to everyone, including to Ray and myself! However, once word got out and we were able to announce to the world, things became easier and no more hiding. Little did I know things were only going to get harder.
We were in a long distance relationship for about a year and a half. With today’s technology, Skype was our saving grace during that period. Skype was the only thing keeping me from going totally insane from not seeing Ray everyday. As far as visits went, plane tickets were only getting more expensive every month. Here’s what we decided for travels: Whoever was doing the traveling pays the lower ticket price, and whoever stays pays the more expensive ticket. For example, if Ray was coming to Winnipeg, we would look at the ticket prices to and from and decide which one is the least expensive – he’d pay for that, while I paid the more expensive one. To some, this might not seem fair as paying 50/50 would be better but this is what we agreed on and we made it work. It was hard because we both had full-time jobs and the traveling ate up a good chunk of our money. You can only imagine how furious it made both of our parents sometimes. We made sure to say our ‘Good mornings’ and our ‘goodnights’ everyday and let each other know how much we love each other. When I had doubts (and this happened many, many times) Ray never failed to stay positive and remind me that he was in this for the long haul and that things will work out.
I was assured by many of Ray’s close friends that he isn’t like other guys — He really isn’t. I’ve dated bad boys growing up and Ray doesn’t fall anywhere close to that category. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any bad-ass qualities in him that I admire (lol) it’s just he’s so kind-hearted and loving – definitely not what I expected and it’s something my brother hasn’t seen either. It was a real shock to him when I told him the kinds of things Ray would say to me to make me feel better when I was doubting our relationship while being apart from each other.
After my brother moved to Victoria to pursue a career in the Forces, it wasn’t a big surprise to my parents that I’d be moving out too. They knew Ray wouldn’t move back to Winnipeg and there really wasn’t any other way for us to pursue our relationship but for me to make the move. It was easy enough that my parents were so fond of Ray already because he had grown up with my brother. It isn’t easy for a parent to hear that their child is leaving and, as much as they didn’t show it to my face, I know it was probably one of the hardest things for them seeing that I’m the baby in the family 😦 They also know that I was making a decision to better myself and seeing where life will take me. I promised myself that, whether or not this relationship will work, I’ll make my decision of moving the best it can possibly be.
In February of 2013, I made the move. This move was one of the hardest and best decisions I’ve ever made. I had always wanted to get out of Winnipeg because I knew there were more opportunities for me to grow elsewhere. If it hadn’t been for Ray, I would have made a decision to move to British Columbia so I can be closer to my brother who now lives there. Leaving Winnipeg meant leaving my entire life behind me – my friends, my parents, my home. However, knowing how much Ray and I loved each other was enough for me to let go. My friends were surprised that I didn’t shed a single tear when I walked away from all of their goodbyes at the airport. I was sad and heartbroken but, more so, excited, because I chose to embark on a whole new adventure by myself.
Seeing Ray waiting for me when I landed in my new home, knowing I wasn’t turning back, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.
If you asked me this minute if I have any regrets? Absolutely not.
Four years in and I’m happier every, single day.