The expatriate’s life is one tied to a bungee line, courting highs and lows quite unlike any other. One can conquer life in an alien environment, and blossom like a flower reaching toward the sun. But like a flower, one wilts seasonally. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and even Halloween for some, can be hard, separated from loved ones and the landmarks of a happy youth.
However, the hardest time for expats is often Valentine’s Day. Separated from your love by what the Irish poet John Montague identified as “all legendary obstacles”, an expat Valentine’s Day can be a heart-wrenching experience. While the distance between you is consciously real on any regular day, it stretches much further in the mind when in the company of heart-shaped chocolates and velvet teddy bears decorated with myriad expressions of ‘I love you’.
And yet, a long-distance Valentine’s Day holds the capacity for a greater romance than any other. Although apart, you follow in the tradition of star-crossed lovers like Abelard and Heloise. For romance is heightened by the trials of difficulty and pain. Let’s be honest, would Romeo and Juliet be an epic tale if their parents were best mates and paid for the wedding reception? Well, it’s by Shakespeare, so he’d probably figure it out, but you get my point. Below, you’ll find some ideas on how to spend your Valentine’s Day with or without your partner.
A Local Street Sign
A stolen piece of geography, a street sign is a promise. A vow that every time you walk down this street, and every time they see this sign, you will think of each other. And that one day, be it soon or in a distant future, you will walk it together and remember in happiness the lonely Valentine’s Day you shared apart.
Disclaimer: InterNations does not excuse or promote any form of theft for any reason, even for those of an epic romance.
A Love Letter
There is nothing more perfect than a handwritten letter. I remember, and still have, the first one I ever received. At fifteen I memorized the neat lines scrawled on the back of a No Doubt concert leaflet, and read it over and over again, knowing the words but following the small curves and large gashes of letters written in the hand of a careful, but passionate, teenager.
One piece of advice would be to keep it short and to the point. We aren’t in the American Civil War, so formalities like “Dear Mabel, I hope all is well. It is cold on the front, and though I would write that we are in the heart of winter, as any man on the lines can attest, it is clear that winter has no heart” aren’t exactly required. It was romantic then, but I’d say you’re better of leaving out the whole “How are you? I am good!” thing.
A Skype Meal
A romantic dinner stands at the very center of Valentine’s Day tradition. I must admit that I stole this idea from the life of a fellow expat I briefly knew. A Brazilian living in Germany, he celebrated his first birthday away from home. So his mother cooked all his favourite foods, and while it was night time in Munich, and as they spoke on the phone, he could live vicariously through his sisters while they ate the meals of his childhood. For him, it was a moment of surreal togetherness which he swore he would never forget.
A Bottle of your Perfume or Aftershave
As anyone in the fragrance industry can tell you, we all have different body chemistries that react in subtly different ways to cologne. Scent holds memory, and there are very few things more individual than the way in which a person smells. A garment with your signature scent, is in a sense, a piece of you, and is a gift that can help your partner weather the lonely nights apart.
And rather importantly, it’s a tad more romantic than the piece of himself that Van Gogh decided to cut off and give to his lover (his ear).
A poem in the language of your country of residence
Love, in all its confusion, is a foreign language. An alloy of emotion, thoughts, ideas, and physical reactions, it evades articulation. One can never really put into words the exact feelings for the love of one’s life. Great artists have tried, but there is a reason poets publish books of love poems rather than a simple and singular piece.
Thus, I think a love poem written in a foreign tongue is more apt. In the inescapable romance of another language, with its delicate trills and soft lulls, a basic meaning can be understood but to grasp its true essence is ultimately impossible.
The Kelly Kapowski
Fans of the hit teen television show Saved by the Bell will remember Zack Morris’s life-size cardboard cut-out of his love interest Kelly Kapowski. Although verging on the creepy in the hit sitcom, sending a lifesize cut-out of yourself to your partner will definitely draw a smile. Well, until they begin to realize that there is literally nowhere to put it … the prospect of going to sleep with a gigantic cardboard person looking over your bed is not-so-oddly terrifying.
Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem called Valentine, a marvellous piece of work that transforms an onion, an everyday vegetable, into the perfect metaphor for the beauty and pain of love.
For copyright reasons we probably can’t reprint the text here, but we would urge you to buy a collection of Carol Ann Duffy’s work and read this magnificent poem alone or with your significant other.
Sam Malone is an Irishman and Masters graduate in continental American literature. He is qualified in two things: being a nerd and reading books.
(Image credit: pixabay.com)
I also belong to those who not forget this days, but often has congratulated his girlfriend from a long distance. There are many ways and to order flowers online is the simplest, but tried it with a self made video and with some romantic lines or rhyme. Although a bit late today i know, but from tomorrow you have again 1 year time.
Suzanne G says
Actually, the name of the poem by Carol Ann Duffy is called, “Valentine,” not “The Onion.” FYI
Thanks for the comment! I’ll edit the text accordingly.
Landon @ Uneven Sidewalks says
I’d never considered sharing a meal over skype, haha. I never realized how many people actually pursue a long-distance relationship through to getting married and having a family.
I just finished an article on traveling with my wife for a year and a half and how to keep the spark of love while traveling as a couple for a long time. It’s not as easy as it seems, but well worth the effort!
the movie ideas is the best I heard so far 🙂 I am actually building an overly romantic thing for couple who are apart, you can google it, it’s called Blueberry Wall.
So the idea is that a printed photo of you lights up at her place when you think of her & sends you a message when she touches it. It also delivers chocolate 🙂
All the best for that day
Nicolas Diaz says
Hi. There .
I want to make a complaint.
The two directors in Baleares, I think that these people do not have time to take the direction of events in Palma de Mallorca.
Announce events 72 hours before the event, I think that events have a week before the date….!!
If they can switch to these two people …?
I’m afraid that I can’t help you directly with this matter, as I work in the Content and Communications team. But I’ve forwarded your message to my colleagues, so they can look into it.
Jock Doubleday says
Excuse me, Internations,
You deleted my account, for some reason, over two months ago. But I keep receiving your newsletter spams which I am unable to unsubscribe from because I am not able to log in to unsubscribe.
Email addresses to remove are:
This is notice #8 in 2 months.
I will continue to flag your newsletter and other emails as spam.
Thanks for letting us know about this. I have forwarded your message to our support team, and they will look into the matter!
How about going to see the same romcom movie in the theatre at the SAME TIME! My wife and I did this for our anniversary 22,000km apart, by a large coincidence the movies started 5 minutes difference but you could also watch online. 🙂