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Got your coffee/tea/coke/pepsi/cookies/biscuits ... whatever it takes to get you through a long, story!! Well let's go then!
So there I was in a very content stage of my life, and believe me, at that point there hadn't been too many of those.
I had found a job that not only did I love, but I felt I excelled at. The people I worked with at Top Energy were a great bunch. Of course there were the good times and the bad. It was a challenging job, the most challenging (other than motherhood) that I'd ever had and it kept me on my toes throughout my time there.
In 1994 my grandfather passed away and left each of his children some money. Since my father had already passed away his inheritance was passed down to his children. I managed to buy a little car (don't ask - it was a Russian Lada ... from 0 to 60 in just over 10 minutes), some things for Timothy and a computer for me.
I had the ability to go online but there was no way I was going to do that since I'd heard so many horror stories about people getting into difficult situations meeting people online. Eventually a friend of mine in America (Ian) told me that he had an email account and that he would write to me more often if I emailed him. So I told him that I would go online JUST to use email, that was all!! Nothing of this surfing stuff I'd heard about!!
As well as my full time job I was also doing the odd job for friends and that took up quite a bit of my 'home time'. I think I went out for dinner three times over a period of two years. That I didn't get out much is an understatement.
A friend (at the time, but she turned out to be a backstabbing piece of trash!) talked to me about going into chat rooms but I vetoed that one. However, one Friday night when nobody was around I picked up a wine glass (which was refilled several times) and headed into the cyber world of chat rooms. Don't ask me how I found the chat room that I ended up in. I was surfing looking for a long lost American friend (Edward P Scott formerly of Schenectady, NY, whom I still haven't located but keep hoping to find) and I came across 'Info Space'. I took a deep breath and 'went in'. It took me a few hours just to figure out how to get from room to room and to keep up with all of the conversations that were happening 'around me'. For a novice it was a completely new world.
For the first three days I didn't post, I just watched and noted how people chatted. It was a very friendly chatroom and I kept going back. Finally I took another swig of wine and posted ... I was no longer a cyberspace virgin!
Over the next week I met a few people that helped my foray into chatting and they were mostly friendly and innocent chats ensued. However, I managed to meet a few people that weren't exactly savoury. Mostly though, I found it a great escape from my loneliness in the evenings when I was by myself and Timothy was asleep.
Around this time I stumbled into a room where 'Aceman' (Terry) was and we struck up an easy conversation almost immediately. We chatted for a little while and then he had to leave. During this first week I had met a woman whom I got along with very well, her 'handle' was Aussie Girl. She had told me a bit about 'Sun Devil' (Todd), someone she had met and liked very much. By the way that she was talking about him I gathered that they were 'together' - and when I asked her she admitted that they were an online item.
A few days later I was in a chatroom and in came 'Sun Devil'. Now, remember, I'm in New Zealand and very naive where America is concerned. From the looks of his name I thought that he liked to be out in the sun a lot ... okay, okay, don't laugh too hard!! Anyway, I mentioned to him that I'd heard he had a good sense of humour and from then on we started up an easy chat. One of the main topics of conversation was Aussie Girl and their friendship.
By the way, these 'two men' (Aceman & Sun Devil) turned out to be identical twins who were apart from each other for the first time in their lives, so coming into a chat room was a cheaper alternative for communication than lots of long distance phone calls. Thank goodness they chose the same chat room that I had stumbled upon.
Over the next few months I became extraordinarily close to these two men. I not only spent many hours online chatting to them (I was introduced to ICQ and real time chat which was amazing), but I would spend upwards of four hours every weekend talking to the both of them. Sun Devil was in Alabama and Aceman was in Texas. I was amazed at how quickly they became such an important part of my life. I vividly remember my first chats with both of them - I spent five hours on the phone with Todd, and then turned around and spent six hours on the phone with Terry - the same day!
People around me tried to understand my infatuation with the internet, but it's impossible to describe what you're going through unless you've been through it yourself in one way or another. These people hadn't. I had a few close friends who supported me whole-heartedly, and then there were the others that told me to my face that they supported me, but behind my back they were definitely not supportive. Each to their own I suppose. I realise that these people thought they had my best interests at heart, and in a way I can understand that, but telling me one thing and then others something else is not what I count as support.
On April 23rd, 1998 my life changed forever. I was waiting on a call from Aceman when Sun Devil phoned me. To make a long story relatively short he told me that he loved me, and that he felt that we had a chance to make a life together. This was a shock to me. Of course I loved this man - he was SO VERY important to me. I couldn't go for more than a few minutes without thinking about him in one form or another. His declaration of love was kind-of-a surprise though.
After a few days of deep thought, I booked my tickets (Todd sent me the money) to go and meet him in Alabama! Some of my friends told me not to go, that this man would hit me over the head with a solid object (?!?!) and drag me away and I would be forced to join a cult and never be seen alive again!! Now I realise that they were just looking out for my best interests, but I knew that this man was going to be somebody very special in my life, and meeting him in person was the only thing left to do.
much as I appreciated these people worrying about me, it was a very
awkward situation because I knew this man was going to be the man I
spent the rest of my life with. I had without a doubt, fallen in love
with him and the only thing left to do with our relationship as it was
back then, was to finally meet him in person and make sure that in person
we were as much in love with each other as we were over the internet
then I had to return to NZ. I can't tell you how devestating it was
to leave this man and go back to New Zealand. There was never any doubt
on either of our parts, but I had to return to NZ, my family and job.
He had to stay in America. I can't explain how absolutely 'gutted' we
both felt saying goodbye at the airport. Ask me about the car horn incident
if you want to be bored further - it's the only thing we actually giggle
about when we talk about the day I left!
We kept our JP service secret from everyone. We eventually planned a wedding service for family and friends in Phoenix, Arizona. This service was held on April 24th, 1999. If you want to see more about this, with photos, then just click onto the link below and it will take you there.
To me, Todd's and my story is an amazing one. I have met many couples over the years that have also met their spouses online. Many have great relationships, some have relationships I wouldn't wish on anyone but my worst enemies! Like any relationship, ours continues to be a work in progress and we make an effort to keep the romance alive and to grow together. My heart still skips a beat when I think of seeing him after he's been at work all day; I still love hearing him tell me he loves me every day; when I see him interact with our children he becomes so much more handsome; and at night when I get to lay next to him, I thank the powers that be for bringing me to this man who not only completes me, he is the reason I was put on this earth.