I was just asked recently how my husband and I met. We've had a very interesting life...and it took a lot to finally get us together. It all started a long long time ago, December 1998. My Dad was in Mexico and I was using his car. Not that it really pertains to the story, but it is one thing I remember. I was attending college, and was in the computer lab chatting on Yahoo. On my yahoo profile, I had indicated that I liked "Ska" music, and for those of you who don't know, http://worldmusic.about.com/od/genres/p/Ska.htm. I have to say, I am terrible at posting links, i don't know how to use HTML.
Anyway, this wonderful day I got an instant message from this dude on yahoo, asking me what ska music was. I answered...and the rest is history. But I shall enlighten you with the whole story. He was newly transplanted in Germany, in the US ARMY. The lonely soldier that he was, he looked on yahoo for someone to talk to. I was in a relationship at the time, so I had no interest really in him, and he was actually helping me to figure out who to date...my best friend Charlie, or my current boyfriend Nick. I remember the first email he sent me, he signed it "Your romantic extraordinaire, Barry". Things didn't work out with either Charlie or Nick, actually, and Barry and I started to write letters and talk on the phone. The first time I heard his voice was January 17th, 1999. He called me around 9am on a sunday morning, and I remember his voice sounding soooo sexy. He had a bit of a southern/pennsylvanian accent. So we got to know each other, chatting all the time...well, as often as I could get to the library. Then i remember thinking, why on earth am I wasting my time on an internet guy...and "dumped" him. I think a few weeks later I had immense regret for doing so...I don't know why. He proposed to me, via internet, February 24th 1999. Yes, we got engaged over the internet. Our relationship took off and we started to try planning everything. Then April 8th, he dumped me. One of my "friends" (whom has kept this secret to themselves since then, and never told me...barry informed me it was one of my friends, just couldn't remember their name), had hacked into my email account to get Barry's email address, and emailed him telling him I was dating another guy. *sigh*. And things were over. kaput. we were broken up. We know now that although we thought it was real...it was almost like we were playing a game. Yeah, we had planned to get married, we talked on the phone etc, but it almost wasn't real.
When he had dumped me, it didn't hit me at first because i was so busy with final exams and what have you. I was trying to get accepted to U of A (and actually did). About two weeks later, it hit me and I was devestated. Yeah, I know...an internet relationship and I was broken hearted, seems kinda silly doesn't it? But i really was. I remember talking to my friend Divya on the phone and just sobbing and sobbing. I had emailed him, wondering why he wasn't returning my emails, why couldn't I get ahold of him? Where was he? I really really missed this man, and wanted to be with him. But I had to resign myself to the fact that it was over. So I went on with my life, casually dated a few guys before I left for Edmonton. I moved to Edmonton the beginning of may, and started a new life. I wasn't over him obviously, just trying to move on with my life. So I finally decided to write a goodbye letter in June, and sent it to his address in Germany. I told him about my new life, how I was getting on with it and that I was putting him behind me. But this time he responded...
June 13th, 1999, was the beginning of the rest of my life. Barry appologized to me for how he acted. Said he missed me and couldn't believe what he had done. OMG, when I read that email I didn't know what to think. I was shocked to say the least. But intrigued. I think I wrote back giving him my new phone #, and address. I don't remember what happened after that to be honest with you. I know I moved into my current boyfriends place because my job as a nanny just didn't pan out. I hadn't heard from Barry in quite awhile, and again...I don't remember what happened between that date and the middle of July. I was living with my boyfriend at the time, and I think i had written Barry a letter explaining how I felt...and how confused I was? I'd need to go look for it in my hopechest (I saved all our coorespondance, his and mine).
Fast forward to July 19th, 1999. The phone rings mid day. "Hello Joanna? It's Barry". Instant tears. Oh how happy I was to hear that voice...this man who's face I had never seen, who's voice I had only heard, brought me to tears. I actually am teary eyed writing this because I remember the rush of emotion I felt when I got that phone call. I was ready to jump on a plane to go see him. He wrote me a letter that I received shortly after I think. He apologized. He never told me why he didn't respond to my letters (I found out years later, why he hadn't written back), just kept saying how he knew he couldn't have me back etc etc. I told him I still cared for him, and I would take him back. I don't know what I was thinking back then...I don't think my head was on quite straight. LOL. I had never met him in person, but something kept pulling me back to him over and over again.
Fast forward to August 8th...I moved out of Dennis' apartment finally. Made plans to see Barry at the end of the month, as he was going to visit his mom, who lived in WA state. We planned to meet up in Victoria for the day. August 28th, 1999. I was staying at my mom's house, as I was visiting for a week from Edmonton. I got up super super early and took a cab to the ferry terminal from Abbotsford...I took a bus on the ferry to the touristy area of Victoria, and waited patiently on the first bench in front of the Empress Hotel. I kept waiting and waiting. I was so nervous Barry wouldn't show up. I kept scanning the horizon to look for him. Now, don't forget...i had NEVER ever seen a picture of this guy. But I was in love with him...so deeply in love that I knew even if he was hideous to me, I still wanted to be with him. lol. I saw a guy walking on the far side of the opposite street, wearing the clothes Barry had said he would wear...he crossed the street...walked up the pathway towards me...showed me his Army ID card...and before I could even look properly, I was in his arms hugging him. I had finally met the man of my dreams, in person. It was fantastic, and I was so ecstatically happy. We spent the day in Victoria, and I kept waiting and waiting for him to propose. It never came. We only had till 7pm to spend together and I remember we were sitting in the grass, and I said something to Barry about how I didn't want to wait for him to propose. I was blunt about it ;o). He was nervous, he didn't have a ring, yet I knew he was going to propose that day...he had told me would. So after gathering his courage, he got down on one knee, and took my hands in his and looked up at me...I don't remember everything he said, just along the lines of "You make me the happiest man in the world, and I want to make you the happiest woman in the word". And he proposed...I said yes. Saying goodbye that evening was so difficult...I knew I wouldnt see him again for months. Our plan was for me to finish off school, and join him in Germany in May, and then get married.
Sometime in september, I got cold feet. I was almost ready to call it off...because I was concerned about finishing school etc etc. Thankfully I changed my mind, and we went full steam ahead with our plans. We wrote letters, chatted, emailed, talked on the phone so much I had a 2000 phone bill from Telus and got my long distance disconnected. After that happened, we only talked once a week, on saturday mornings. Either of us would call the other one with a calling card and we'd talk for a good hour on the phone. I got my passport in October, and he was getting all the rest of the paperwork taken care of over there. Now our plan was for me to visit for three weeks in december to get married, and then leave for the beginning of the winter term in january, and join him again in may. I think Barry had told me if I didn't marry him in december, he wouldn't wait for me because long distance relationships were hard. Yikes! Glad I went, that's for sure. It was definitely hard being apart. Phone calls are fine, but it's not the same as actually being with the person. It was a strain for us to be apart, we missed each other so much.
I had to arrange with my professors to let me take the exams early, and they did let me. My last day of school was Dec 14th...i had my last exam that morning. I remember i had won a pizza prize on the radio from some station with the word "Bear" in it, so i treated my housemates and I to pizza and cake etc that night as it was my last night in Edmonton. I walked to the laundromat that night to finish my laundry and get ready for my trip. Little did I know it was to be my very last night in Edmonton, ever. I don't think I slept well that night, i was a bundle of nerves. I awoke early that next morning...December 15th, 1999 and got myself ready. Made sure my wedding dress was all packed in the garment bag, made sure I had everything else, including some snacks for the plane. I took left over pizza with me to eat at the airport. I don't remember what time my flight left from Edmonton to Calgary, but I think I left sometime around noon from my house to the airport. A very kind gentlemen, Tom Oosterhuis...something like that, I can't remember how to spell his last name, who had also done my marriage counselling for me, and had me over to his house with his family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner, drove me to the airport. I got on the plane to Calgary... and my flight was delayed a bit to Frankfurt from Calgary. it was about a 9 hour flight, and we finally left around 6pm...i called barry right before that to let him know I was on my way and I couldn't wait to see him. I was so excited, just on top of the world. And then we were off....
I landed in Germany about 10 am local time, and my luggage was lost. I had to have them call Barry on the intercom and they had him come to the customer service desk and told him I was here...my luggage was lost, and he told me later he was worried that I had played a prank on him and never decided to come after all. lol. FINALLY, our luggage (well, me and everyone else that had come from Edmonton too) was found, and I walked out of the luggage area and into Barry's arms!!!! he was so freakin sexy...wearing his BDU's. omg he is hot in that uniform ;o)
Wow this is taking forever to write...i've been writing for almost an hour, but I also had to get Aili down for a nap too. Ok...so....
We got to the Army base, and I was staying with Barry in the barracks. We had so much fun together...one day we went down to the Rathaus to get our paperwork started for our wedding. Originally we had planned on Christmas eve, but they werebooked, so December 29th was the day. And at about 9:30 in the morning, we became Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Joanna Bender. It wasn't a frilly wedding. Our witnesses were his First Seargent and a couple of his friends. His platoon Sgt, Sgt. Bravo, took our photos. We had to have a German interpreter. We said "yes", not "I do", and we had our wedding dinner at the Brauhaus in Mainz-Kastel. Fries and beer, and sausage!!! Sgt Koroll paid for it for us. We spent our wedding weekend at ahotel in Wiesbaden, because we weren't allowed to go too far from the base due to Y2K.
And the rest is history. I landed up never going back to Edmonton. Partly because I knew I couldn't be apart from Barry, but also because were told that the Army wouldn't pay for my flight back to Germany (if I had flown back to Edmonton to finish school). I landed up dropping out of school, and had to have my aunt and cousin pack up my apartment for me. And I stayed with him there till we left. We've been married for 8 wonderful years. And to think...we spent only ONE day together in person before we were married. We were together in person a total of 15 days before we got married. But it just fit...things fell into place so easily. We're a perfect match, and I love him like crazy. I think the fact that we got to know each other's personalities and whatnot before we met, really helped. We fell in love with the personality before the person.
Next year, 2009, will be our 10th anniversary. This upcoming december, we'll have known each other for 10 years. I can't believe that it has been that long...the time has flown by.