Although Valentine’s Day was weeks ago, my fiancé and I will be celebrating this weekend! When dating a roadie, you never know when a holiday or birthday will be on hold.
Wikipedia defines a "roadie" (road crew) as the technicians or support personnel who travel with a band on tour, usually in sleeper buses, and handle every part of the concert productions except actually performing the music with the musicians.
Falling in love with a roadie has been the most amazing and adventurous experience. Although we don’t have a typical relationship, it works for us! When I tell people that my fiancé is away at work for weeks or months at a time, they usually look at me like I’m nuts. Most likely they’ll ask me “how could I date someone that travels for work?”. I’ll smile and tell them that I absolutely love being in a long-distance relationship. Normally, most people will tell me that they could never date someone on the road. A few years ago, a friend met a roadie and wasn’t sure if she could handle the relationship. While encouraging her to give the relationship a chance, it made me realize that it takes a special person to make a long-distance relationship work. That conversation inspired me to write this post.
Adam and I met on Match.com in January 2013. For the first six months, we emailed back and forth because he was in Australia and South Africa. I wasn’t exactly sure what he did for work; all I knew was that he is an audio engineer and he travels. At the end of his profile, it said, “If you’re lucky I’ll tell you who I work for”. Assuming that most girls would ask him, I decided not to. Which was definitely a good move on my part, because I probably wouldn’t have believed him and stop chatting with him, never mind attempting to meet a potential sociopath. Adam had a short break in June, and we were finally able to meet in person before he would have to take off again. When he revealed that his mystery employer is one of the biggest bands in Rock and Roll, I looked at him with disbelief. Truly, I didn’t believe him! At first, I thought he was another crazy guy from the online dating world. Not sure whether or not to get up and leave the date, I decided to stay and see what else this delusional guy had to say. He had a great vibe about him, and since I picked a restaurant where I knew the staff, I felt comfortable staying. We ended up having a great night and amazing conversations. I knew that night I found my best friend! After some investigating, I found out that this so-called crazy guy was actually telling the truth about his employer. Unfortunately, I’m unable to mention the name of the band in this post. For all of the trivia fans out there: this band made it into the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first musical act to perform a concert on every continent. Adam was on that iconic tour when we first met!
By November we were a couple, and I was officially dating a roadie. Adam’s schedule was insane!!! He would come home for two days then leave for a few weeks, then come home for a week, and then leave again. At least we had phone calls, texts, and FaceTime! At the beginning of our relationship in our “honeymoon stage” when all we wanted to do is spend time together, he had to leave for the land of no service - Antarctica! It took Adam three days to get down there once he departed from “The End of the Earth” Ushuaia, Argentina. He traveled there by an old Russian icebreaker vessel. The journey took him through the Drake Passage. It is one of the deadliest bodies of water in the world. It is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean meet on the southern tip of Argentina. We had ZERO communication for three days. I was worried and terrified! Never had I been in a situation like this before, where my boyfriend’s work would push him to overcome obstacles on his commute to the job site! He was able to contact me on his second day in Antarctica. It was the only, very short, and expensive phone call that trip, but worth every cent! I knew he was alive. He told me the travel to get there was crazy. They hit a storm on the way down. Ever see the film, “The Perfect Storm”? It was very much like that. I was glad to know he was safe. Once I heard his voice, I knew everything would be OK! I was so happy for him that he was able to visit a continent that most haven’t traveled to before, but was also flooded with emotions about this newfound romance. Could I actually handle dating a roadie? Was this going to be our norm? This was the ultimate test to see if I could date a roadie.
Thankfully I passed!
The last five years of being in a long distance relationship have been an amazing learning experience for both of us. While every relationship needs a solid foundation of trust, communication, and respect; independence also plays a huge role in dating a roadie! When trying to reassure my friend that dating a roadie is worth the time and effort, I emphasized the importance of independence. If I weren't running a business, taking classes, involving myself with charities, and having my own hobbies---I would probably drive myself crazy while Adam was away. Also, I love having my alone time! Does it get lonely when he’s away at work? Absolutely! But the excitement of when Adam comes home out weights the feeling of loneliness when he’s gone.
Being in a relationship with a roadie is definitely a lifestyle change! While most couples get to talk or see their significant other on a daily basis, I’m lucky if I get to talk to Adam every day. If I was to add up all the days in the year that I get to fall asleep and wake up next to my roadie, I’m lucky if it’s three or four months out of the year!
He is normally in other countries and has a significant time difference. Most days we are only able to talk to each other for a few minutes, and that is usually after a show and he’s getting ready to get on the bus or plane to head off to the next city, country, or continent. Sometimes we get lucky and he’s in the hotel and we are able to FaceTime when I’m free. This all depends on how good the Wi-Fi is in the country he’s working in. Any avid FaceTimers know how frustrating it can be when the Wi-Fi is lousy!
Since our daily communication is limited, trust is huge! There is absolutely no way I could be in this roadie relationship if I didn’t trust him 100%! When we first started dating, there were so many Negative Nellies’ that constantly told me that a roadie couldn’t be trusted, and I didn’t know what he was doing on the road. While some people tried to break my faith I had in the relationship, I knew in my heart that he loved me and I could trust him.
We have the utmost respect for each other, while at home and on the road. After experiencing the production of the show from load-in to load-out, I was fascinated by all of the work and detailing that goes into putting on a concert! That experience made me respect Adam’s career more than I could have ever imagined! With the organized chaos behind the scenes, I’ve learned to not add any more stress than he’s already having with work. For example, when everyday homeowner issues may arise, I’ve learned it’s best to handle what I can at home and not overwhelm him with additional stress that I am perfectly capable of handling myself. I know everyone has some sort of stress at work, no matter what it is you do. Imagine your average workday - what is it like for you to get to work, do your job, what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner, what roads should I take home, not to mention adding children into this (we don’t have any, but a lot of people who work with Adam do have kids). Here is an average journey/work day for Adam: after a 20-hour day of flying to another continent, he has one night (hopefully) in a hotel, the next morning, usually early, he is at work waiting for his truck to unload. His truck is just one of 24 trucks of gear that will be unloaded. Once the truck is unloaded he has to set up his “world”, as he calls it. It can take anywhere from 2 to 16 hours to be “show ready” (the time differential depends on the scale of the show.) Now, by that time most of us have eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once it is all set up, everything is tested, and everyone is show ready, it is time for the show. At this point, Adam finally gets to do his job! He has to mix all the instruments together and make it sound “musical” for the artist who is performing in front of tens of thousands of fans, if not hundreds of thousands so that the musician is able to do his job as a performer. The way Adam sees his job is that if he has a bad night, the artist can also have a bad night. Therefore, the fans don’t get as great of a performance as they paid for and, more importantly, deserve to see. Don’t worry; the day is not over yet. Hoping the show is successful, as they usually are, there is no time to worry about that because now it is time to go on to the next city. The “load out” begins! All the gear that was brought in on those 24 trucks now has to get put back into those trucks in a timely manner because the crew has to get to the next destination. That is a long day and only a gist of it.
Once the workday has ended for him, he now gets to share a 240 square foot bus with 11 other people! Not to mention, language barriers, poor sanitary conditions in other countries, and I hate to say it, but it’s a reality, the safety in these foreign places can be scary at times. That is just a glimpse into his day. So, if I can take some weight off of his shoulders and I am able to do so, why wouldn’t I? I am always able to go to him with issues, but if I’m capable of handling the situation on my own, I’ve found it works best to grab the bull by the horns.
Adam and I have learned many lessons of dating long distance and found that communication is key! I can’t stress this enough! We are not talking about the day-to-day chitchat, but the needs and wants of your partner when they are home or on the road. The roadie lifestyle is fast-paced and stressful! It’s important for your roadie to come home and decompress for a day or two in order to rest up from the 16-hour workdays, shake off the jet lag, and adjust to the time change. It took me a long time to understand how important this decompression period truly is. Even though he tried telling me about the time he needed to have to himself, we both wanted to see each other and let the loving emotions get the best of us. Of course when your loved one is away for an extended amount of time you want to see them as soon as they land! Over the past five years, we realized that the decompression period is a must! The quality time we spend together when he is rested and clear-minded is far greater than when he is not.
If you’ve ever considered dating someone that travels for work… DO IT! I was quite skeptical at first, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways! That’s a whole other story of traveling, learning about other cultures, and introducing me to a world I knew nothing about. The world is MASSIVE. You don’t realize how big it is until you get out there and see it for yourself. Go see it!
We realized how valuable time is in a relationship like this. At the end of the day, a relationship is all based on an emotional bond or spiritual connection you have with someone. What the other person does for work, or what continent he is on doesn’t matter. Love is what matters. We have that! We have a LOVE story like no other!
Loren Mendozzi is the owner of L. Marie's Wellness, your destination in Providence for holistic treatments & workshops that feed your spirit and repair your body.