We met at an art exhibition in Jogjakarta, Java in 2011.
From the very beginning this was not meant to be a holiday fling, there was something special about this boy that gave me butterflies. He was smart, creative and selfless. I knew that it wasn’t his skin colour or his accent that attracted me but rather his heart and his personality.
Our love knew no borders and to this day it is still hard to comprehend those put up by either ones government. I understand why the laws are there but that doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow. These borders make it harder for us to stay together unless we commit to the inevitable and get married. But what if we aren’t ready to get married yet? What if we want to see each other on a regular basis and go about life normally?
Relationships are hard. Cross Cultural Relationships are even harder. How are you suppose to make it last if you don’t speak the same language, follow different religions or live in different continents? What is the one thing that holds it all together? I would really like to say love, but I know there is much more than that.
There is no rule book to follow and if it all turns to poo what are you meant to do next? Do you keep trying even though the distance seems only but a road block put up to test the relationship?
Isan and I are fortunate as we both have the ability to speak one another’s language. Isan has lived in Australia and I have a bachelors degree in Asian studies majoring in Indonesian language and culture. In saying that there are still times when it is evident that we were raised among different cultures. The arguments I use to have with past partners (from Australia) just seems frivolous now in the scheme of things. What is the point of arguing over whose turn it is to take out the garbage when you need to reach an agreement on where to raise your children.
Rhonda and Ketut make it look so easy, but really what will happen when Ketut pops the question? Will Rhonda convert to Hinduism to be able to live in Indonesia on a partner visa or will Ketut move to Australia to be with Rhonda. Don’t know who Rhonda and Ketut are? This montage of tv advertisements for Australian Insurance company AAMI below will enlighten you of these 2 characters.
I think most couples would choose to live in the more developed country as it is perceived that their future will be brighter. I know Australia will provide a financially sound future for Isan, better healthcare and education but I still cant help feel guilty that the move might take a small part away from him; his sense of belonging.
Since returning to Australia I have been able to catch up with some long lost school friends. To them my life seems so interesting and exciting but the funny thing is I would swap what they describe ‘as their boring life’ with mine in a heartbeat. I long for the day when Isan and I can work 9 til 5 and come home to talk about our day over dinner every weeknight. I crave the chance to enjoy an entire lifetime of Sunday sleep-ins next to Isan with our dog Kawan catching the morning sun at the foot of our bed.
In the end no matter how hard it has been or will get, this relationship has taught me how to be grateful for the little things. Grateful for the internet and skype, grateful for the support I have received from friends and family and grateful for you the reader who keeps reading our story. This gives us the motivation to keep pushing on, no matter what lies ahead.