The year was 1997, my browser was Netscape, I had email but there was no such thing as instant messengers. I was a Freshman in college at Oklahoma State University, along with my best friend since Kindergarten. We were bored, so we spent most of our waking hours doing homework or surfing the net. One afternoon on a library computer, she introduced me to a chat room she had discovered. And yes, in those days, you had to work to find those chat rooms. You had to work even harder to find the kind where people had normal conversation and didn’t ask you what you were (or were not, as the case may be) wearing.
We spent many…many…hours in that chat room. We both met some lifelong friends there, we also met the kind of people you can’t forget fast enough, but most importantly, it was there that I met The Canadian.
Over the next several months, we spent most of our free time chatting with each other. We graduated from html chats to PowWow to Babble to ICQ, each seemingly groundbreaking technology at the time, of course. Whatever was available, however it was that we talked, the point was we talked. And we talked a lot. The funny thing about internet relationships is you have no choice but to talk. There are no dinners, no movies, no mini golf or bowling dates. Because of that, you get to know a lot about each other in a fairly short period of time. Well, that’s assuming one of you isn’t a hairy 40-year-old man pretending to be an 18-year-old girl.
We had gotten pretty close, so The Canadian came to visit that summer. Then Christmas break rolled around and I went to visit him and meet his family. He proposed during that trip, and the wedding planning began.
If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know how stressful it can be. It’s all-consuming and makes you want to rip your hair out. Take that experience and add the United States government into the process and you’ve got one heck of a mountain to climb. We started filing paperwork for visas, making trips to INS offices, paying fees, fees, more fees and a few more fees, and waiting. The waiting was the hardest part. Time passed, forms didn’t arrive, and the wedding date was fast approaching. So fast, in fact, that the Canadian had to leave the country without his fiance visa papers. Someone from the INS department assured us that all we’d have to do is take his papers to a point of entry and have them processed after the wedding.
August 1, 1998 came and we finally had our wedding. Other than the fact that it was 105 degrees and the Canadians were about to melt right inside their tuxedos, I don’t remember much of it. Is that normal? But I do have pictures to prove that it happened. Ridiculously embarrassing pictures. Pictures no one should ever see. But what’s the fun in that?
I swear I look like I could eat him for a snack. Like David and Goliath got married, and Goliath just happened to be in a wedding dress.
Then there’s the ever popular marriage license photo.
Little did we know just how amusing that photo would become a few days later.
His papers finally arrived, so we made a drive to the closest “official” point of entry into the country, the Dallas airport. Everything went smoothly until we tried to get the papers signed. The catch? They have to be signed as you enter the country…as a single person.
Well that’s a problem now, isn’t it?
To make a really long story a little shorter, we went back home, had our marriage annulled, put The Canadian on a plane back to Toronto, let him cross the border as a single person, got his papers signed, flew him home and got married, again, in my parents’ living room on August 23rd. That’s right. We were married twice in the same month. (Sad thing is, even with two chances, most years we both forget our anniversary.)
I’d like to tell you it was smooth sailing after that, but that would be the lie of the decade. The very next month, on Labor Day weekend, our apartment burned down. We moved in with my parents while we waited for The Canadian’s work visa to come through and the next May their house blew away. That would be followed by a raw sewage flood in our next apartment, and a near-fatal gas leak in the one after that. All the while I was a college student and we were trying to get to know each other. Because, while you get to know a lot about a person online, that definitely does not prepare you to live under the same roof. His snoring, had I known about it, may have been a deal breaker and I wouldn’t be writing this post today.
I’m kidding. Sort of.
The important thing is, we made it. Today marks 13 years since I dragged the unsuspecting Canuck across the border and forced him to live in this wretched oven we call Oklahoma. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but we have a beautiful family to show for it, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
Happy Anya-versary, Jasson! Can’t wait to see what the next 13 years have in store.