The year was 1999. Before cell phones and Facebook. Before Instagram and the recording of every minute detail of life. Certainly well before Snapchat and Tinder. Despite this lack of digital intervention or proof, that Monday night in May is etched in my memory, and changed my life forever.
I was 27, a Californian who had been traveling solo for about 5 months on a year-long backpacking tour of the world. He was 30, working in Melbourne, Australia on a six month contract that was coming to a close.
Back in those days, if you wanted to get in touch with your family from afar, you’d go to your local “internet cafe” where you could call or email, or just browse the World Wide Web for a small fee. As it happened, I had discovered a fabulous internet cafe in Melbourne, run by a vivacious and whip smart redhead, who offered free pizza on Monday nights. Being a poor backpacker, this was my kind of place!
When I arrived that particular Monday night, however, the computers and telephone booths were all full, so I chatted with my host, ate a piece of pizza, and then curled up on the couch to wait, picking up a copy of New Scientist Magazine to fill the time.
The next patron to walk in was a tall, lanky Irishman with a charming smile and a slightly mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He sat down next to me, complimented me on my choice of magazine and turned on the charm. I was completely captivated. When it was my turn to use a computer terminal, I kept half an eye on my new friend, hoping he wouldn’t leave before I was done sending my family a quick email. I needn’t have worried, as he was timing his departure to coincide with whenever I might be finished.
As we left the internet cafe that night, he suggested a bar where we might get a drink. We spent the next three hours walking around Melbourne, occasionally stopping for a refreshment (he actually had no idea what bar he was going to take me to, so he just made it up as he went along…). When I said goodnight late that night, I left him with a phone number and a smile.
We met up again a few days later, and have been inseparable ever since. He bought a car a few weeks after we met – a green Ford Falcon station wagon (the Millennium Falcon, of course), complete with red dust, a free BBQ and surfboard in the back, and a penchant for breaking down every few hundred miles. We spent the next 6 months traveling around Australia together, working on a ranch in the outback, crewing on a yacht up the barrier reef, and basically doing all of the ridiculously romantic things you do when you’re first in love and in a strange land.
This May 2nd will mark 20 years since that fateful Monday in Melbourne, and I feel lucky every day I wake up next to my husband of all of these years. My ever-charming and witty Irishman, who sports a bit more grey hair, and who, after two children, two cats, three tortoises and a very large mortgage can still captivate me on a daily basis.
– Marion B., Dublin, Ireland
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