Distance Makes Resistance2019/12/05
Before interviewing the lesbian couple behind the popular YouTube channel, “Baby momo’s”, we had thought that we were in store for an epic love story. Soon after dating for a month they were in a long-distance relationship and weren’t able to see each other again for over six months after their first time apart. However, distance wasn’t an issue for them. Amber from Taiwan and Tomo from Japan are both free-spirited Aquarius. They didn’t set any rules for their long-distance relationship, but there was a tacit understanding between them, like always making a point to call each other on a daily basis to talk about their day. “This was my first long-distance relationship, and trust was of utmost importance. To hear Amber’s voice every day instilled a sense of trust and security between us, so neither of us would feel apprehensive,” says Tomo.
After dating for over four years, the two finally decided to live together! With support from both of their families, Tomo had given up her high-paying job in Japan and moved to Taiwan to start a business with Amber. They are now owners of a shisha bar called “Lullaby Shisha”. We’ve invited them to talk about long-distance relationship in this special LEZS issue, “Pheromone”, and to look back on the journey they’ve had and share any bittersweet stories that were not captured in their adorably sweet videos.
“Many people have wondered about how we met. We met on “LesPark”. We both don’t really like to chat with strangers but had friends that recommended the app to us. I was on a business trip to Japan and decided to give the app a try. Tomo was quite popular on it and had many people that wanted to chat with her. She actually didn’t really enjoy chatting online, but because my Japanese was still quite bad at the time and was only able to use simple words, she was intrigued and started to chat with me.” Amber goes on to say that they met when she was in Japan for three months on a business trip. It was during this trip that she had met Tomo via the app and grew attracted to her, which marked the beginning of this transnational romance. They actually missed each other when they tried to meet for the first time because of some confusion. Tomo recalls, “We were meeting at a bar called “Golden Finger” but didn’t specify the time. We had thought that we would see each other when we get there. Amber was there at 9pm and I didn’t arrive till midnight, but she had already left by then. Initially, I had thought it wasn’t meant to be then, but I felt bad for her for having waited so long, so I decided to ask her out again for a meal together.”
After their fourth meeting, the two had decided to go steady. Due to the language barrier between them, Amber had drawn what she had wanted to say to Tomo on a piece of paper. She gave the paper to Tomo on their next date to profess her love. Amber then returned to Taiwan a month later, and the two were in a long-distance relationship that would last for the next three and half years.
Making A Long Distance Relationship Work by Saying I Love You Every Day
There are many videos on “Baby momo’s” of trips that they had taken together. However, the motive behind the videos was not to make themselves feel better when they were apart and missing each other. Amber has always enjoyed making videos since high school, and when she started dating Tomo, she would make videos of the trips they take together to remember the times they’ve shared with each other. She thought it would be fun to upload the videos, and more and more people then started to watch them. Some comments were also left by their viewers on issues with long-distance relationships. They then realized that their videos are more than just records of their romance but are helpful to others that are also going through the same situation. With this in mind, they decided to make more videos, hoping that the videos would encourage their viewers and inspire them to stay strong for the love that they believe in.
Were there times when they were doubtful and felt unsure? After hearing this question, they both shook their heads at the same time without any trace of hesitation. “We are constantly expressing our love and say I love you to each other every day. We also turn our loving words into tangible action. When we were apart, we sent letters and gifts to one another to let the other person feel loved.” Tomo goes on to say, “We’ve never been in a serious fight before, and we would always tell the other person when something bothers us. We also have a tacit understanding that we would always make up with each other on the same day of a fight.” “Yes! Tomo is calm and good-tempered, and she really only cares about eating and sleeping. She’s rarely upset if she has eaten and slept well. I’m usually the one that’s getting upset, but I also make the point to apologize first.”
Another way to make a long-distance relationship work is to set mutual goals. This could include planning the next date or trip together, which would become a goal that the both of you could work towards achieving. Amber also thinks that maintaining a sense of anticipation is also very important. “We tried to see each other every 3 to 4 months, and each trip would be at least 3 or 4 days long. We would set a date and countdown together. To have a goal that the both of us could envision together was quite motivating. It gave us a sense of anticipation about our next meeting. When feeling restless or anxious, we would think about our next meeting and that would make us feel better!”
Settling in Taiwan, A Simple Life is a Happy Life
After going steady for over three years, Amber would meet with Tomo’s family whenever she was in Japan. With encouragement and support from their families, the two then made the important decision to end their days of being apart and to start a new life together in Taiwan.
How much courage did it take for Tomo, who doesn’t speak Chinese, to move to Taiwan? Amber sees Tomo as someone who is quite confident and believes that she would succeed in most things in life when she takes action. This was true with her relocation to Taiwan. “I had asked myself earnestly about the kind of life I want, and the kind of decision I should make so I wouldn’t regret it later. When I thought about moving to Taiwan to start a business with Amber, my first thought was happiness. I knew then it was right. I knew that it was the right decision.” Amber is someone with intricate thoughts and tends to take more time to contemplate, but Tomo, on the other hand, is more of a person of action. In the beginning, they also thought about living in Japan together, because Japanese is the main language that they use to communicate with each other. However, they then thought about how there are still more prejudices against homosexuals in the Japanese society. Working in the architecture industry, when Amber first went to Japan, she was often questioned by her co-workers about her short haircut. The strange looks from people made working there more stressful, which also became another reason that deterred them from staying in Japan.
Settling in Taiwan then seemed like a much more ideal choice. They’ve lived together in Taiwan for close to a year now, and the shisha bar they’ve opened in Taichung has been gaining increasingly more traction. The two have transitioned from a long-distance relationship into partners who live together. However, they haven’t experienced any friction in their shared life together because of this. With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, they have also begun to share more time together while sheltering in place. Amber pauses for a few seconds before saying, “We’ve been spending a lot of time making miniature house models at home. We also talk about the future of our shop. Business is quite stable right now, and we are making plans for expansion.” Tomo had wanted to use the extra time to learn Mandarin, but her thoughtful girlfriend has “sabotaged” her plan. “Amber just can’t help but to speak Japanese to me, so it’s hard for my Mandarin to improve. (Hahaha!)” Tomo has also grown more accustomed to life in Taiwan. Although the ubiquitous motorbikes and light signals on the streets are still sometimes overwhelming for her, she has, however, grown quite fond of Taiwanese food and enjoys Taiwanese egg crepes and oyster noodles a lot. She is also delighted by any food with mayonnaise added, and when talking about this, this adorable Japanese girl’s eyes lit up with excitement.
Amber feels deeply moved by Tomo’s decision to move to Taiwan. “When we first started dating, I was on a train to the airport one day about to return to Taiwan from Japan. Tomo had to work that day, but out of the blue, someone was touching my face, and when I looked up, it was her standing before me. I was so delightfully surprised. However, this was different. Moving to Taiwan meant that Tomo had to give up her job, friends, and family in Japan. She was coming here to start a business with me, having to start from zero. There have been many obstacles along the way, but she has never complained and has always been encouraging. She supports the decisions I make, and I can’t explain with words how moved I am and how appreciative I feel.”
For Tomo, to move to Taiwan and start a business with Amber is something that makes her feel quite happy. “I am someone that loves to work. When I was dating men before, I always felt that it was quite exhausting to be with a guy. After I started dating girls, I felt more comfortable and at ease. Amber is kind, but she is also a person with principles, and being with her makes me feel grounded and secure. This is the kind of relationship I want to be in.” Having overcome distance, language, and cultural differences, as both intimate and business partners, they work in unison towards their shared goal, and to cherish each other is what they see as the utmost important thing in life. They have also come to understand each other very well.
At the end of the interview, we ask them to put on headphones and say something to the other person. Although unable to hear one another, they have both chosen to say “I love you.” This is a habit that they’ve had since their long-distance relationship days. These two have been together for over four years and were in a long-distance relationship living apart from one another but have rarely fought; nevertheless, it may be hard to imagine that they’ve never been apprehensive or unsure about the relationship. Could this be possible? This interview with Amber and Tomo has surprised us in so many ways.
To show your love on a daily basis is perhaps a tip on how to stay in love. However, the sense of care they have for one another and the determination they have to become a strong support for each other are perhaps the real reason why this adorable pair could overcome great physical distance and continue to go on in life holding each other’s hands tightly together.
Text / Wen Hsiao
Photo / Jessie Ho
Hair & Make-up / Huang Jo Han