So it turns out, when we asked you for moving posts last week, there was more this community had to say on the topic than we could possibly imagine. Which makes sense. At this point in most of our lives, we’re in a state of transition, of moving forward. Possibly literally and certainly metaphysically, we’re all in a state of moving. Which isn’t to say this week is about packing boxes. It’s not. It’s about going the distance in a whole variety of ways. So today is in two parts. First, we have a Reclaiming Wife post from Lauren McGlynn (with her adorable Texas courthouse wedding photos) about uprooting her life and her business and moving to Scotland to be with her husband. Then, this afternoon we have Lauren’s amazing Scottish wedding. So let’s dive in. This one has huge lessons for all of us.
The year that Aidan & I got married was one of the craziest years of my life. A timeline of that year goes something like this:
Me: B&B cook and aspiring wedding photographer. Him: Philosophy PhD candidate.
January: Aidan and I are engaged!
February: I photograph my first wedding and I love it.
March: People start booking me to photograph their weddings in the fall. I am thrilled.
April: Aidan and I get married in Texas.
May: Aidan and I get married in Scotland.
June: Aidan stays in Scotland while I move to North Carolina to live on my friend’s blueberry farm in the hopes of picking up some weddings so that we can have some money. I can’t legally work in Scotland and he can’t legally work in the States during the summers.
July: Aidan and I talk on the computer a lot. I photograph more weddings in North Carolina.
August: After two months, neither of us can stand being apart anymore, so Aidan flies to the farm, decides that he can not stand the heat, nor the insects, nor the lack of air conditioning (he is a delicate Scottish flower after all), so we drive back to Texas where it is hotter but there is AC.
September-October: I photograph lots of weddings.
November: I am laid off from my job. My new husband, still living on mere grad student salary, tells me not to look for another job, that I better make this photography thing work. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, I marvel over my good fortune at marrying such a person. I dump more money than I have ever spent on anything into advertising.
December: I start booking weddings like a crazy person.
January: Aidan is offered a Philosophy post doc… in Scotland.
Did you hear that? That record scratch? Is your neck tingling in sympathetic whiplash? Because what’s happening here is that both of our dreams are coming true—ON SEPARATE CONTINENTS.
When I met Aidan he was still a PhD student, and I had recently dropped out of grad school to work at a grocery store. I usually like to dress that up a little to make it sound more respectable by adding that it was a small neighborhood grocery store and that they sold lots of organic cereal and stuff. But whatever: When I met Aidan I was making seven dollars and hour working a mindless job at a lame grocery store. When Aidan finally came through my line, the first thing I did was add “Scottish accent” to the top of my list of sexy man things. After a few months of getting to know each other over brief one-to-three minute checkout line interactions we went out on a date.
A few months later we had a conversation where I asked him how serious he was feeling about our relationship. He made some very serious noises, but then he told me that the future of our relationship depended on me being willing to move wherever he got a job. That might be Canada, that might be the UK, that might be the middle of nowhere Alabama. At the time my career had progressed from grocery store clerk to chopping down trees with a chainsaw then dragging them through a chigger infested desert field as an Americorps volunteer, so I was like: Yeah sure, sounds good to me.
So it was harder than I had initially expected when just as I had finally started down a successful career path, Aidan was offered a job that involved us moving to another country. Of course it wasn’t just that I was successful, though that—really—was awesome. It’s also that I was good at it, and I liked it, and I liked the weddings that I was shooting. Let us also remember that I had just thrown a mountain of money into advertising for Austin, TX weddings and that it was paying off big time.
At the same time I knew that I would never have my career if it weren’t for Aidan. Say what you like about this, but I am the kind of person who functions much better when I’m in a stable relationship. Not to mention that the period of time when Aidan was a PhD student, while I was a grocery store clerk, or I was chopping down trees, or I was scrubbing toilets at a B&B, made me feel even more strongly that I needed a some discernable career goals. Aidan’s success motivated me to finally embark on a career that I could be proud of, and the fact that he loved me no matter what my job title was gave me the foundation that I needed to really go for it.
So obviously Aidan had to take the job. That was never a question. He told me that I had a say, but how could I say no? He moved back to Scotland in May and we decided that I would wait to move until the following November after I had finished photographing all of the weddings that I had booked in Austin. Thus ensued the one of the hardest periods of our marriage to date. We were separated by six hours and 4,600 miles. We tried to talk on the computer every day, but we often found that we had nothing new to say. We’d exchange greetings, inquiries, and avowals of love—then get pulled back into our separate worlds.
The settlement visa process wound up taking much longer and being much more intimidating than either of us ever could have anticipated. November turned into December. I was finished with all of my Austin weddings and couch crashing in North Carolina. I waited for my visa while sitting on an ever-growing mountain of angst. My computer conversations with Aidan went from us exchanging pleasantries to him saying “Hi” and me crying dramatically over the hopelessness of our situation into my keyboard.
In the meantime I’d put every spare dollar I had into advertising in the UK, and while I wasn’t expecting my business to be quite as booming as it had been back in Austin, considering my success had happened fairly early on, I was optimistic. It turns out that moving your business to a whole new country is harder than you might think. Or perhaps you saw this coming, but I was blindsided. When my visa did finally come through, and at long last Aidan and I were reunited two days before my thirtieth birthday in the Glasgow airport, I believe I let myself be happy for about a week before I descended into full blown panic mode over only having four weddings booked for the following year.
At the end of January of my first year as a full time wedding photographer in Austin, I had at over twenty-five weddings booked. At the end of January of my first year in the UK I had six weddings booked. My feelings of panic started turning into resentment. Being successful had given rise to a certain amount of positive feelings about my self, and moving to Scotland had replaced my newfound confidence with a whole lot of doubt. I felt guilty because I wasn’t pulling my weight financially, I was worried that I would have to go back to working jobs that I didn’t like, and I felt rejected by my new home. The situation was made worse by the fact that I was cut off from all of my friends and everyone I knew, and the cultural differences between the UK and the States made me feel like a clumsy adolescent again. I was ill at ease, unsure of myself, and floundering.
Finally Aidan and I had a conversation. He told me that since I had given up so much to move across the world to be with him, and now that he was earning a bit more—that it was okay if I wasn’t able to contribute as much money to our household right away, that in fact I shouldn’t expect to. I needed to let go of my expectations that weddings would come to me as easily as they did back in Texas. I stopped panicking all of the time, and I focused instead on thinking up ways to build my business anew. I got in touch with Meg, and she put me in touch with Cara (of Lillian & Leonard) and she saved me. She gave me advice, she referred clients to me, and she expressed her general approval of me on the internet, which made other UK wedding industry people begin to take me seriously. As January turned into February and then March I booked more and more weddings, a lot of them APW weddings, and I began to breathe easier.
Now a little over a year and a half after moving to Scotland, both my business and my marriage are doing really well. We have weathered some hard times, but we have never wavered in our commitment to our relationship, or in doing our best to make sure that we are both happy with the direction that our shared life is taking. Aidan recently accepted a tenure track position at the University of Edinburgh, which is a great move both of us personally and career-wise. I still have moments of panic about the business, but I have also learned a few things about being patient and putting the energy that I have during down times into being productive instead of freaking out. My calendar is already completely full for 2012 and I’m steadily booking weddings for 2013. Aidan makes me laugh every day, and we both try to be good to each other. Really, I couldn’t ask for a better life.
Texas Courthouse Polaroids by: Lauren & Aidan’s friend Amelia