Multicultural relationships are pretty much all they are cracked up to be…. and so many more worse things than you could ever imagine. The visions of a white wedding in a 2,000 year old cathedral with forever-family summer vacations in cities of names you can’t pronounce with 3 bilingual/trilingual little ones skipping next to you down your cobble-stoned street, holding your spouse’s hand, who is asking you how you would translate that sign in English, and you later asking him how to say “my great aunt’s cousin’s next door neighbor’s hair stylist” in his native tongue. It’s hard not to get carried away with romantic illusions like these. Because life would be forever foreign in one way or another, even if at times not geographical. A merging of two countries, creating their own.
The part no one really wants to talk about or face though, is the ugly side. That huge ocean that separates your country from theirs. That language barrier that prohibits your family from being able to communicate with theirs. That enormous looming sacrificial matter of location. Who’s going where….and when….and for how long? What about future offspring? What will your families say? These are all the ugly questions. The ones that bring tears, start fights, cause insomnia…the ones that can either break or make a couple, depending on the solutions they come up with.
For anyone who’s actually been in a relationship with a foreigner, (more precisely, you being the foreigner) you know exactly what I’m talking about. There develops a fear, of not just loss, but loss that ends up being so very far away. My overseas relationship didn’t make it to the let’s-figure-all-of-THAT-out phase, but I still sometimes wonder about it. If it had gotten to that point. What the pictures in the cathedral down the hill from the castle would have looked like. The big wooden box under the coffee table filled with strange memorabilia collected on sporadic weekend trips. And if our kids would have had strange accents. And if a bilingual marriage/ life would have been the most interesting accomplishment fulfilled in my lifetime.
I suppose I should mention that all of these what-ifs crept into my mind after a very raw, honest conversation with my previous ex from abroad, who recently contacted me to spill his regretful heart out by sending me messages so heavy I’m surprised they didn’t fall into the Atlantic ocean on their way over to me. His if-only nostalgic energy came and knocked me over enough to still not be able to stand up straight 4 days later. Curiosity lingers, like a hesitant hand on a phone, unsure of picking up the call……leading me to believe that perhaps he too, is wondering how those pictures would have turned out.