“So, where did you guys meet?”
This is a typical question asked of most couples, and there’s always a story to tell. Some met on a rainy afternoon in a coffee shop; others met on a sticky dance floor at 4 a.m.; some have known each other so long they can’t even remember, and others simply swiped right (the Tinder gods can be good!).
And then there are a few – a rare few – that met many miles from home, who fell in love despite the distance. Despite knowing they would be apart. Despite knowing the rest of the world would think they were crazy. SPOILER ALERT: This is how I ended up married to an American, and no, we didn’t use the “automatically fall in love questions“.
Here’s how the rest of the conversation would typically play out for me:
“But he’s American.”
“And he still lives over there.”
“Isn’t that really hard?”
“Is it even a real relationship?”
“How will it ever work?”
“Very good question, I’ll let you know when we figure that out.”
Anyway, let’s rewind a little bit: WHERE did we meet?
In 2013, I landed a camp counsellor job in Virginia, working at a summer camp for adults with intellectual disabilities. I ended up working three wild summers there, and the story of Camp Baker is honestly enough to write a whole book about in itself… but I’ll try to stay Dylan-focussed for now.
In 2014, I returned for my second summer. A day after training had started, I was sat in the canteen eating breakfast when a slightly flustered looking guy walked in a sat down next to me. He introduced himself as Dylan and I assumed, on account of his random arrival, that he was probably there to do community service. I wasn’t particularly tactful voicing these suspicions.
“What kind of community service do you have to do here?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Aren’t you here to do community ser-“
“No, dude, I’m a counsellor.”
Awkward, but we managed to recover. It transpired that he had apparently been given the wrong start date (still not sure I believe that, Dylan), and that he was also going to be a Head Counsellor. Awesome. We ate breakfast, talked a little more and went for a smoke on the porch (btw mum, we don’t smoke anymore) before training started. “He seems cool,” I thought. Funny how that first interaction seemed so relatively inconsequential at the time – but in reality, it was a railroad switch. Over a bowl of cereal and a cigarette, the courses of our lives changed forever. Life is strange like that.
Anyway, so summer camp started, and Dylan and I became good friends. We had a lot in common (conspiracy theories and drinking, for example) and, at first, spent a lot of time together. But this is not a movie and, having just come out of a turbulent relationship, a summer romance was not on my radar.
I hate to tell you this, but I turned down Dylan’s advances that first summer (sorry again, Dylan!). By the time I realised my feelings for him, Dylan had hitched up with another counsellor (the boy moves quickly!) and when summer finally wound to a close, we parted ways without much of a goodbye.
But fear not guys! I’m not a quitter and the story doesn’t end here.
Back in England, we spoke on and off over the following year and I couldn’t shake my feelings for him. By the time I returned to America for my third and final summer, I knew I had to see Dylan again. Though he never returned to camp, he did live in nearby Richmond… How convenient! So, we started hanging out. We started making out. And – long story short – we fell totally head over heels in love that summer.
This was a little problematic because summers don’t last forever, and summer romances usually suffer a similar fate… But this was different – I didn’t just love Dylan because it was summer, or because he took me for dinner on my night off, or because he was an exotic American. I loved him in a way I had never loved anyone before, and when I boarded the plane to come back to the UK, I was utterly heartbroken.
Thankfully, however, Dylan is an optimist. He just told me to hold on and that we’d
figure it out. And I guess that’s what we’ve been doing ever since – holding on and figuring it out. Because when you know, you know. Even if you met many miles from home, and your relationship becomes a succession of hellos and goodbyes. Sure, our lives would have been way easier if our answer to “So, how did you guys meet?” was just, “Oh, Tinder.” But then again, that wouldn’t make for much of a blog post, would it?
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