"Well, now that we have seen each other, said the Unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"
Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass
The Love of My Life
In 1994, I met Andrew Bromage, an Aussie bloke, online. I met him because I already knew his two brothers, David (elder brother) and Greg (younger brother). I was curious about the middle brother and a little bored one evening in November and I did a little research and managed to locate his email address. Note that this was long before the days of fast, easy searches using Google or Alta Vista. Oh, no. I had to use an absolutely archaic system that had weird features such as "seeding" the database and which only worked for participating organizations. Luckily, the University of Melbourne was a participating organization.
So I sent him an email, and he replied because he recognized my name even though he didn't know me. A few days later I sent a talk request (we're talking about "ytalk" in a Unix shell here, nothing as usable or sophisticated as ICQ or anything of that sort). We talked for about three hours, and I came away thinking Andrew Bromage was very witty and that I liked him. He came away thinking I talk a lot.
Over the years, we became friends, talking online regularly, exchanging gifts, cards, the occasional phone call. In February 1997, I came to Melbourne for three weeks to meet him in person. On April 1, 1998, we announced our engagement (yes, we chose April Fool's Day on purpose). In February 1999, I came to Melbourne permanently. We were married on Easter Sunday, 4 April 1999.
Suffice it to say that he was with me throughout most of my breakdown, the worst of my illness, and all of my recovery. Despite being on the opposite side of the planet, he was my primary source of emotional support. He's seen me with my heart and soul in pieces. He's seen me at my absolute worst. He's the only person in the world that I completely, totally, and utterly trust implicitly and explicitly.
Our wedding was perfect, as perfect as any wedding could be. Our marriage isn't perfect. Well, maybe it is. We do have our disputes, and we bicker sometimes. We sometimes drive each other crazy. But somehow, no matter how annoyed we may get, that's all just passing, like the weather. The underlying bond is incredibly strong. Oh, and we don't really argue all that much, actually. Most of the time we co-exist quite happily or at least contentedly. Sometimes we're blissfully happy, in fact.
The longer we're together, the better, deeper, and more fulfilling and satisfying our relationship becomes. After so many years as friends and then partners, we've gotten to where we think so much alike we have to warn each other, "Stop thinking like me!" or "Get your own brain!" (well, actually, we've been that way for a long, long time, since 1996 or so, before we were really in love). We are, basically, perfectly complementary in every way, and absolutely sympatico. Where I am passionate and emotional, Andrew is calm and generally rational (sometimes to the point of being truly irritating). Where I tend to be easily annoyed, he's pretty easy-going and patient. Where I tend to be opinionated and bossy, he tends to be just as opinionated and more stubborn than a goat, which, when dealing with me, is not a bad quality to possess. We have shared interests in many areas, and best of all, we have a similar sense of humor, and we do a lot of laughing.
Don't believe people when they say that an internet romance is necessarily doomed to failure. We're living proof that that's untrue, and we're only one of thousands of couples who met and fell in love on the net. There are difficulties and a certain kind of loneliness that goes along with a long-term, long-distance romance, but if you both really want to stick it out, it can be overcome. Andrew and I were probably among the most unlikely of people to fall in love online, and we certainly weren't looking for a love affair or a marriage, but here we are, happily married after years apart, comfortably living together in Marvellous Melbourne, raising babies and enjoying the company of my cat, and generally having a good life.
Distance, age differences, cultural differences, none of that ended up amounting to a hill of beans. Even the mountains of paperwork and expense involved with my move, importing my cat, and getting Permanent Residency (and later citizenship, though that wasn't really required) were just passing annoyances which, again, didn't amount to much. The truth of the matter is that Andrew and I are made for each other, and nothing in the world could change that. I'm just glad to have lived in a time when such direct communication was possible, or we might never have found each other at all.
It's strange. I used to believe there was no such thing as "true love" (this is after several failed relationships and other bad experiences). I've been deeply, passionately, madly in love with Andrew for years now, though, and the term "love of my life" certainly applies. Sometimes, it's good to be proven wrong in our convictions.
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