Love is a very emotive word. To some it conjures up flowers, big hearts, wedding bells and the whole clouds and unicorn vibe. To others it can be an elusive unachievable goal that is always too far away to reach. For me, it is about relationships and they have always been fairly tricky to handle.
A lot of Aspies wonder if they will ever find love. They wonder if they can find love with an NT or with another Aspie. This often is followed up with anxieties about how to make it work and if they will truly be accepted as they are or if the partner will spend time trying to “fix” them or mould them into a version of themselves they don’t recognise. For me, it was always a dream that I would find a man who would love me for me. I never really thought I would ever find what I was dreaming of but would end up settling out of fear of being left alone. Little did I know that when I was in my second year of college a friend of mine would introduce me to this weird thing called the internet and my life would completely change forever.
It was April 1996, when I first went on this new-fangled internet thing. My mate Laverne said, “Hey girl, you need to get chattin’ on the internet in the library. You can talk to people from all over the world.” Internet you say? Talk to people from all over the world you say? Sounds like a plan to me. I had absolutely no idea what the internet was, what it meant or even how it worked. It could have been tin cans and strings for all I knew but I was always up for trying new things and for a challenge. Now, I have always had a thing for English accents since I was little and thought it would be cool to speak to people in England but really had no real understanding about what was to come. The whole internet thing took time to work my head around. I hadn’t a clue what webcrawler was or a web address, links or if it was even going to work. Soon though, Netscape and I were going to be best friends in the most amazing way. It was super exciting and the best part was I got to press buttons. I mean, who doesn’t like a clicky buttons, right?
The first day, I spent every minute between lectures at college, in the library, trying to get my head around it all. Laverne wrote down several lists of web addresses for sites that had hordes of listed links for every kind of chat place you could possibly think of. After going through a plethora of lists of various “rooms” of people, I started to talk to a lovely guy from Canada called Robert. He was in a British room. He seemed sweet, funny, interesting and had told me he was a model. Now I know what you are thinking, “…yeah right he was a model,” or “yeah that is what he said, but a lie.” Perhaps it was my naivety or just my trusting nature of something new but I believed him. Why not? You’ll have to remember back in the mid 1990’s, people were actually a lot more honest about things, then perhaps they are now. The internet to the main stream of the public was new. At the time, I also felt that since I didn’t lie to people about myself, I didn’t see why anyone would lie to me. He was thousands of miles away anyway. What would be the purpose of lying anyway? Robert and I talked for the next few days off and on and got on well. I could, however, tell he was just a nice guy and we developed a platonic relationship over the internet. It was a great way for me to really get a chance to think about what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it and really process things before my impulsive mouth ran away with me. It also taught me to be as articulate as possible in a small amount of characters because it took so dad gum long for each ‘post’ to load and to wait for the replies. Back then there was no real ‘private’ chat in the mainstream of chat sites and anything you said, you often said in front of everyone else on that same chat programme. Nothing was really private. In fact, it often quite a chaotic place to try to chat as so many people talked and the lines of text flowed/scrolled like a water fall. During those first few days I was trying to get to grips with how this internet thing was working and trying all different AOL chat rooms and the like, to see which ones were the best.
One week after being on the internet, Laverne pointed me to a new place she found called the “Chathouse“. This small little website, which contained five rooms holding no more than twenty people per room, which was soon to become my new go-to chat place. I noticed it loaded fairly quickly, but which room to choose? Each room had its own names like “The Hottub”, “The Lounge”, “The Basement” etc. With the help of Laverne, she chose my handle which was “Devin69”, (I didn’t even click about the 69 and its meanings at the time-haha) and into the chat I went. It was not a wonder that within a minute of joining I was greeted by males vying for my “attention”. However one name caught my eye, AdamUK. Reading that you see Adam UK but I didn’t even recognise the UK bit. It was more like Adamuk and it was all one odd name to me at the time. I didn’t actually say anything to him, but ended up getting a private message from him, as you could actually do this in the Chathouse. I remember him asking how I was doing, which was the common small talk comment, as you’d expect. I gave the usual replay and asked after him. He replied, “Well, actually I am not that great.” This intrigued me, so I said, “Why what’s going on?” He then replied,” I just found out my ex-girlfriend is a lesbian.” Well, thousands of miles away from him, in Texas, I just laughed out loud in the middle of the quiet library. It tickled me because I had barely spoken to this guy and he was telling me something so personal and intimate. It was a different approach, but also I like that he was open. At the time, I thought he needed someone to talk to and also that he might have a good sense of humour.
Adam and I chatted for the next hour or two talking about his ex and also about general things. You know the” where in the world are you? What do you do with your day, how old are you?” kind of things. The “getting to know you” questions. I did though ensure that I told him that I had a boyfriend but that I was ending it as he just wasn’t right for me. I just hadn’t gotten around to ending it as we hadn’t seen each other much lately. Adam understood as hadn’t been out of his last relationship for too long himself. The time flew so so very fast, which was odd even with the long load times of the conversations. Then came the big question, I asked him what he looked like. He gave me a description and it “sounded” nice. In fact it sounded perfect, which made me anxious because I’ve never considered myself a beauty in anyway, but in writing, it probably sounded fairly “normal”. Then he told me he had done some modelling and he had a picture of himself if I wanted to see it. Well I, of course, jumped at the chance. This guy seemed nice, single, the right age, worked as an Anti-terrorist officer, had a flat and to top it off he had a picture from his modelling I could see, too right I was gonna be all over it like a rash. I waited the 7-8 minutes for this picture to finally load from the bottom up. Oh my goodness, this guy was absolutely gorgeous! He was tall, tanned, handsome, had amazing eyes, a nice strong neck (one of my odd preferences) and to top it off he was going to have a sexy English accent. In fact, he was so good looking and I was in such shock, that I actually fell off my chair in the library and hit my head on the door knob of the door next to me and landed hard onto the floor. Laverne came over to see all the hub bub was about and was also in awe of this gorgeous man staring back at us. It took a minute or so to gather my thoughts and carefully type a replay. I then worried that even if I did like this guy, once he was me, that would be the end of it all and it would all be for nothing, so I just held back. I said he looked nice but didn’t big it up too much. I did come straight out and say I am nowhere near as attractive as he was, I thought it best to be honest and get it out in the open from the start, but this didn’t seem to put him off. In fact, we talked for almost another hour before he asked me for my phone number. I wasn’t too sure I should give some strange guy off the internet my phone number. I’d heard of another girl at college, in the library, who had done the same and in the end the guy started stalking her. So, I was a bit concerned. I lived on my own, in my own flat at the time and worried about my safety but Laverne assured me that some guy from England was unlikely to be able to do anything from so far away and don’t be a dork and just go for it. I did want to hear his voice and see if we could actually get on in the same way as we did online, so I braved it and gave him my number to call me that evening.
When Adam called it was amazing. It was like we had known each other for years. The conversations flowed freely. Although, admittedly, I had to get him to slow down his talking because he spoke, not only faster than I could process but also his accent was making it difficult for me to take it all in. I could listen to him talk all day, though. His accent was so sexy and all I could see was his modelling picture talking to me. He seemed to like my Southern American twang, which for a while was a talking point too. We had so much in common, but also so many differences and experiences. Our conversations never stop and I felt so relaxed. All I could think was how much I wanted to get to know him more and speak with him as much as I could. Adam was so intriguing and he sounded so intelligent. Eventually we had to end our nice, two hour international chat, which was sad. There must have been something about me that struck a chord with him, but I had no real idea what that might have been, as he wanted to talk again the next day. This one day was the start of something new for us both. The only thing I had to worry about was whether or not once he saw a picture of me, was he going to be disappointed or still interested.
Over the next few days we spoke every day on the internet and the phone. Adam was a distraction for me. I was in the middle of my second semester of my second year in college and I found I was getting obsessed with him. Adam was all I could think about, dream about. Hearing him speak my name on the phone gave me sweet shivers down my spine. He said the most wonderful and interesting things to me and made me realise even more that I needed to make it clear to my current boyfriend that we were over. When I finally told my boyfriend it was over, he wasn’t really in place where he really wanted to listen or take it in. I explained he and I were in two different places. I was 19, living in my own apartment, had my own car, attending college, had a well-paid job and had plans for my future. He had already lied to me from the start of our 4 month relationship by telling me he was younger than he was, I didn’t want to date anyone more than 5 years older and he told me he was 25 but he turned out he was 26 turning 27. He also lied about having kids which I only found out through his younger sister and he didn’t really take much care of this child. He also had told me he lived in an apartment off his parents’ house, when it truth it was just his room in his parent’s house and not his own place. He also had no car and was a removal man, with no other real dreams, ambitions or prospects for more in his life. I couldn’t see what potential he had or could offer to me as a young determined woman. Whatever I had at the time I got on my own and he just wasn’t what I was looking for. He still wanted to try but once I finally got through to him, it wasn’t going to work he began to listen. I then told him I was speaking to someone else and he finally got the message. I felt happy that I had let him down gently and felt it was going to be a good closure for us both. It would also open the door for me to develop things with Adam.
Within a week of Adam and I speak daily, he said he wanted us to be exclusive and I happily agreed. Yes, it meant I would, in theory, have a boyfriend who was thousands of miles away, but it meant that we could work on trust without the interference or complications of wondering if the other wanted to see someone else at the same time. There were however complications. Adam had a holiday planned with his mates at the beginning of May. A kind of lads holiday, however, his mate Dave was also bringing his girlfriend, Joanne, with him and she in turn was bringing her mate, Frances, with her. Whilst this doesn’t in itself sound like such a big deal, it wasn’t until Adam told me that Frances was actually his one of his ex’s that it made things complicated. Adam did assure me that he had no interest in her what so ever that I tried to relax. Now every girl knows that a man may say one thing and mean something else, I did believe Adam when he said he was not interested in her. He explained their history and that it was a very short and also not a deep relationship. I.e he was never in love with her, it was just someone he passed the time with and not much more. However, while I was listening I could hear what he was saying about her and it seemed as though, it may not have been emotional etc for him, it may have been for her. She was the one that was more attached to Adam. So then I began to worry about her trying things on with him when they were on their “fun” holiday. They were all going to be staying together, sharing space and letting go of inhibitions. It was going to be a test. A test of my trying not to jealous of a girl who had been with Adam, who was going to share his time and space with, while I am sitting thousands of miles away pining for him. Was I jealous? Hell yes I was. Not of her personally, but of the fact she was able to be close to him when I couldn’t. I was also not sure how I would handle the change of us not being able to speak daily. He was already thousands of miles away, but when he went away to Tenerife, it was like he was even further, when in fact technically he was closer. My obsessions with Adam got worse. I had to fight with myself for room in my mind for more practical thoughts. I was also in a state of slight panic because I had mailed several pictures of myself to Adam that he would receive on his arrival back home.
When Adam did go on his holiday, several things happened. One, I managed to crash my car into the only tree for a mile, because no one told me I was meant to check brake fluid. This didn’t help my moods. I also had to leave my car down town which was then broken into and all my college books were stole along with all my notes. I now had no car and couldn’t get to work so had to quit and switch college campus’s to one nearer to my apartment. I also then couldn’t pay all my bills because I had no wages. This also meant that I had no food and starved myself for a week until my Auntie came to visit and realised I had no food and lovingly and kindly filled my fridge and cupboards. So I wasn’t really in a good place and it was only Adam’s calls from payphones while he was on holiday that could pick me up. We truly had become so close in such a short time. It had only been 3-4 weeks and my world really was all about him. I know this wasn’t particularly healthy, but I was a teenager. We’ve all been there, our decisions aren’t always the best but we do what works for us. Adam’s calls were brief but they lifted me up so much. To hear him talk about missing me and how important I was to him made me feel wanted, needed and loved. It was exactly what I need to spur me on to getting a new job so I could raise the money I needed to go and visit him.
All the while Adam was enjoying is lads holiday, I was still going to college and on the internet. I had met several people and had made some great little friendships that Adam and I both shared on at the Chathouse. One was “Jack Skellington” who was Robert from Canada, another was Peter from the UK known as “White Wolf” and one more lad called Doug from Maryland but I cannot remember his handle now. Doug and I also got on well. He was part of our little online gang at the chathouse and he was only one year older than I was at the time. He too was talking to a girl named Gemma from the UK and so had something in common. I didn’t speak to Gemma much but only knew things from speaking with Doug. Our little gang was keeping me occupied until Adam got back to England, which couldn’t happen quick enough. Adam had sent me some pictures of him while he was on his holiday and I got them the day he got back.
Adam’s pictures made him look just as amazing as I had seen before. Although, I did hate his shirt, not to my taste, but he did look so handsome. I could see his lovely tanned skin, his bright amazing smile and it convinced me even more that he would be right for me. By this time, I had such a deep attachment to Adam I was in no doubt that I had fallen for him in a big way and love him. But it all hung on whether or not he was going to be disappointed in my pictures. When he got them I waited for his reaction like my life depended on it. To my great surprise, he said I was gorgeous. The sense of relief was acute. It was like I could breathe again. It was like a weight had been lifted and we could move on because it wasn’t all going to come to a end. Now that he was finally home I could make plans with him, hear about his time away and talk to him even more.
Over the next few months we developed our relationship. We talked openly about our past, our strengths, weakness, dreams for the future, goals and ambitions for life. Even then we didn’t really argue about much. There were some strange situations that happened outside of our control, but like a good couple we worked through them, found solutions and it helped make our bonds even closer. We used to talk so much and even at times we both would fall asleep on the phone. Adam, ever the joker, even made me sick by mentioning greasy lamb chops on the phone when I had a dodgy tummy and next thing he could hear was me puking in my bathroom. Not nice but his sense of humour. Our sense of connection grew daily. I couldn’t every really explain to him just how much he meant to me and I think he too felt those same struggles. We wrote big long messages to each other whilst the other was asleep. It felt great to get a long love letter first thing in the morning once I got to college. It really set me up for the day ahead. Adam seemed to be a nicest, sweetest, kindest and amazing person I had every “met” but I also worried that I might build this dream of him up so much that the reality may never truly match what I was thinking in my mind. Everything I did involve him in my mind. Our relationship was better than I had ever had in real life with any of my ex- boyfriends and I wanted it to work. The more we talked the closer we became and no one would have been able to convince me that my future wouldn’t actually be with him. Boy did we talk. We talked over $2000 worth in less than a week. Adam’s phone bills were just as high as mine. We finally had to limit the calls and try to speak on the internet more as neither of us could afford the money.
At this time now I only had a crap job cleaning stores in the evening, since crashing my car. I was also trying to attend college, paying bills by selling off my things; I just couldn’t see how I was actually going to get over to see him. This coupled with the fact I hadn’t actually told my family I was talking to Adam, really made things difficult for me. Not that I was embarrassed, but back then, people really didn’t date on the internet. How could I possibly explain? I was holding all my excitement in about Adam and needed to share it somehow. I finally got the nerve to talk to my Aunt about Adam. The expected question came up of how we met. This is where I felt bad. I had to lie. Why lie? Well that kind of thing just wasn’t a done thing. Now a day it isn’t a big deal but back then it was just odd and practically unheard of. In the end, I made up a story that Adam had come to the US for training because of his job as an Anti-terrorist officer and was only here for a few days when we met. I didn’t go into too much detail, but it was enough to quell any further questions so I could just talk about him as normal. It was such a relief to share my feelings and excitement about him. It also made it easy to explain the flowers that arrived. Adam had sent me flowers asking me to marry him. I was in such shock. Wow, marriage! I hadn’t even actually met him and he wanted to marry me. I said yes, but that it would also depend on how things went when we finally would get to meet. BY the way, I loved those flowers, I still have the card. I carried those flowers from room to room with me, perhaps a bit sad to some, but I was in love and this was a little reality for me. They were so beautiful and the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me. Once things were out in the open, we carried on our long distant relationship and with our lives in hope that at some point in the future we would be able to be together.
Our big break came in the form of a friend. Most days our little internet gang chatted about life, love and things. Doug and I talked a lot on the phone too as he needed advice on ladies and it was easier to speak on the phone than to type. He and I often talked about going to England and how cool it would be to finally see the people we dreamed about, but it was exactly that…a dream. It was going to take me a long time to save the money to fly over plus have spending cash and I still needed to sort my passport. I hadn’t even told my parents much about Adam as they lived an hour away and to be honest, my mum was never really overly involved in my love life. One night thought Doug just said, “ Aahhh…Jenn, I want to go to England so much.” I said, “Hey you, you better wait for me. I want to go see Adam too, but I can’t afford it. But once I can, we will plan it together and do it together to support each other.” He agreed it would be a great idea. We then started talking about something else, however not ten minutes later he said, “ F**k it, Jenn! I want to go over now! Lets just go.” I said, “No way, I cannot do it right now, I told you, but we will soon! I just need time to save.” Doug followed up with, “I will pay for you, I’m rich. I can pay for us both. I just want to go!” I was in shock. He was offering to pay for me. However, I just couldn’t let him do it. It wasn’t right. It would feel like I was using him, even if it was his suggestion. I started mulling it over in my head. I wanted to be with Adam and who knows how long it would be before I was able to save up enough money. I told Doug, “I know you want to do this, but it is just too much. Can’t you just wait?” He insisted he wanted to do it and not to worry. I was shaking with excitement. Doug spent ages trying to convince me it as the right thing to do. In the end I finally said, “ok, ok. I will let you can pay for me, but only if I can pay you back once I have the funds, because otherwise it wouldn’t feel right.I don’t like people paying for me and I don’t like owing anyone anything.” He agreed then howled down the phone with excitement. He gave me his credit card details (quite trusting), then I planned and booked our flights. The plan was I would be flying from my home in Texas, to Newark Airport and he would fly from his home in Maryland to Newark Airport and together we would fly to Manchester in England. In less than 30 minutes we were booked in ready to fly in 8 weeks. It was finally going to happen. All the things I had dreamed, all that I had pinned my hopes on, was finally going to be made a reality. Now all I had to do was tell Adam and see if he really wanted a future with me.
To my delight, Adam was so thrilled when I told him what Doug had done and that we would soon have our chance to be together. Now though, we both had some tough decisions to make. Do I go to stay or am I going to visit? What was I going to choose? What would staying mean? I had a return ticket so I could always come back home if it didn’t work out. It didn’t take me long to make the choice that it would be a forever choice. I had to take this opportunity; it could be my only chance. I would have rather lived with the actions of trying things out rather than living with the regret of “what if”. I didn’t want to let my fears rule me. At 19 years old I was quite young to make such a decision. I thought to myself, “Well I had no kids, I can go to college anywhere, my family might miss me but they all had their own lives anyway. I could still call any of my close friends to chat.” Then my decision was made. It was going to be a new beginning for us both. The reality of knowing I was leaving my family, my life, country and my entire world, up to that point, for the unknown was a big decision but I knew I was resilient enough to deal with the consequences if I was wrong. Besides, I had a return ticket for two weeks later so I had nothing to lose but material items and perhaps bit of self confidence.
Once things were certain, I began to sell my household items to family members and get all the paperwork I needed for my move. I had to whittle everything down and fit my own life into two suitcases. Once everything was sold, all my bills cleared, medical records and passport processed, I was ready to go. Two months was all I had to pack my entire life away, ready for a new adventure, ready for the man I had dreamed would come into my life. Would it work out? Am I making a mistake? What if he thinks I am ugly? What if he is disappointed? What if he isn’t at all like he said he was? What if I do have to come back home? All these questions repeated in my head and I didn’t always know what the answers would be. My panic really set in a few days before I was set to leave. Had I planned properly for my trip as it wasn’t going to be easy to sort anything I missed out, later on? As I stopped calling Adam on the phone in August of 1996, because I wanted to make sure all the phone calls were billed before I left, I could only contact him through the internet. It was difficult hoping I was home should he decide to call me and talk about our plans. Our contact was mainly on the computers at college which meant I had all evening to fret about the “what if’s” and the “maybes” of what the future would bring.
When the day for me to leave finally arrived, I was full of excitement but also so such anxiety. It was October 19, 1996 and today was the day. I was really going through with this. I was going to make such a big step forward on my own. I had no fall back. I had no escape plan, it was all going to happen; it just depended on how things would turn out once I was off that plane. My Mother, Uncle and Grandfather all came to the airport with me to say their goodbyes. I remember not being unable to sit still, waiting at the gate to board. I was bouncing around the terminal with anticipation and nerves. I hadn’t been on flights as long as these since I was a child. I hadn’t travelled out of the country on my own ever. When it was finally time to go, I saw the tears in my Grandfather’s eyes. He wasn’t one to cry, so I knew he was really going to miss me as he bear hugged me goodbye. I had been living with him since I vacated my apartment and we had spent a lot of time together lately. My Uncle, one of my favourites, also seemed upset to see me go but I was so glad he was there to wish me well and see me off with a big hug too. The last person to hug me was my mother. She, too, was starting to cry, which isn’t something I had often seen from her, so I knew I had to hold it together. I was touched by the emotions of them all and it took a tremendous much energy to hold it all together. I really didn’t want the last thing they saw of me crying in blubbery tears. As I gathered my things ready to board the gate, I took a deep breath, steady my nervous as much as I could and said to myself, “here you go girl, a new life is waiting.” As I got to the door of the gate I turned around and quickly waved back at my family. As I turned back around I could feel the tears start to stream down my face. I was fighting my urge to turn around again. I told myself to “be strong” and I just pushed it all down as much as I could and tried to enter the plane like a new woman. I was standing on my own now, making my own decisions, taking control and pursuing a new life. It was difficult for me and overwhelming. I cried for a full hour before I was finally able to calm myself. People were looking at me, but I didn’t care, it was about me and I didn’t care about them. I just wanted to deal with this all in my own way and try to look forward to the adventure ahead of me.
Once I got to Newark Airport, I just looked forward to finally meeting Doug and getting a chance to put a face to the voice, which I had been talking to for so long. I wanted to really thank him for all that he had done to help make my dreams come true, I owed him so much. I had told Doug what I was going to wear and he easily found me at the gate waiting. He was just as I pictured, a medium height, thin and blonde young man of 20. It was a new experience for us both to meet people like this, but he took to it with easy. After a couple of minutes of my trying to act relaxed about the whole situation , which by the way I was not, Doug relaxed and soon we were like old friends. As we boarded the flight, me with a small rose for Adam in hand, we talked about our plans and what to expect the other end. Really all we knew was that Adam would meet us at the airport where he worked, then we would drive to Liverpool train station, drop him off their so he could go meet Gemma and then Adam and I would be off to his flat back in Manchester. The anticipation was killing me. I couldn’t sleep on the plane or eat. I spent most of the time worrying about what was going to happen at the other end and if this was going to be the beginning of something amazing or the end of all that we had both had built up in the last few months. I worried that perhaps, in person, we wouldn’t actually get on very well. What if this idealised dream in my mind was actually unachievable? What if he is actually an asshole? What if he ends up treating me like crap? Would I have enough money to find somewhere else to stay until my return flight if it all went wrong? What if he takes one look at me and thinks I’m a troll? How will I handle it? Am I really strong enough to deal with this if it becomes a nightmare?
When we landed, Doug and I were like kids at Christmas. He knew he still had a car journey before he would see Gemma, but I knew I was only a few minutes’ walk away from Adam. I went into the toilets to freshen up, brush my teeth, fix my make-up, straighten my clothes and control my anxieties. I was so giddy I could hardly contain myself. We exited the plane and walked our way to immigration and that was my first time really saying it out loud. The immigration officer asked me why I was there, for how long and where I was staying. I said I was there to see my boyfriend for two weeks and I was staying at his place. They asked me how much money I had and then how we met. When I said he met on the internet the officer smiled and said, “We are getting a few more people now meeting like this.” Then she waved me through. As I walked towards to doors to the terminal it felt like I had just drove into a pool. I was holding my breath and hoping I would see Adam waiting for me. As Doug and I walked through the doors, I saw him for the first time. He was towering with his 6ft 3″ frame above everyone else in the room, but my full focus was on him, it was as though no one else existed. He was beaming such a beautiful and bright smile and I knew…I knew he was the one for me. Call it love at first sight, call it attraction, but when you know, you just know. There was the man I wanted to marry, without hesitation. The next few minutes are a bit of a blur because I was so nervous and anxious. I don’t remember our hugging, but Adam assured me that we did. I was in such a daze and so overwhelmed I had little control of myself, my thoughts or my memory. I remember him grabbing one of my bags, still with a huge smile on his face. I was talking to him so fast and so much that I am not sure if I even took a breath. We talked but all I remember was apologising for speaking soo fast. As we left the terminal and I looked up at the sky all I could see was a dark grey blanket of clouds. This truly was the England I had read about. Adam was being such a gentleman, helping me with everything I needed. I also noticed he couldn’t stop looking at me which I hoped meant he wasn’t disappointed in finally seeing me. Then we were off to Liverpool to deliver Doug to his very own adventure in love.
My first time in the car on the wrong side of the road and wrong side of the car was certainly an adventure. Adam held nothing back going around the small country lanes he knew so well, without a care in the world. For me it was like the scariest rollercoaster I had ever been on. I was gripping the handle on the ceiling of the car near my head for dear life. Before long though, we were at the train station. Adam was wearing a Manchester United Football top, which in Liverpool, is a bit of a no no. He was looking around rather nervously, but distracted by me too, I think. All three of us walked into the station. Doug said his goodbyes and I promised to see him again in two weeks at the airport when he was going to go back. He walked away from us both and 2 seconds later he was lost in the crowds of people. Adam and I were finally alone. I needed to stretch my legs from the long journeys so I suggested we go for a little walk around the shops nearby. We held hands and talked and it was just as it was when we were on the phone. I was taking him in. I loved his scent, his voice, the feel of him being close to me and his hand in mine. It just convinced me even more I had made the right choice. As we walked around the shop, talking small talk, I could feel my skin burn. I really wanted to give him a kiss, but really we had only just met. As we talked I reached into my coat pocket and found a letter. I was shocked to find it was in my mother’s hand writing. We both stood outside the shops and I read the letter. She talk of being proud of me and well wishes. My mother had never really told me was proud of me and this just added to my feelings of being overwhelmed with emotions. I couldn’t help it. The next thing I know I have just grabbed Adam and I kissed him, there in the middle of the sidewalk in broad daylight. That isn’t really my style, but it just seemed the right time. I think even Adam was shocked. It may sound silly or sad or whatever you want to think, but for me, it was perfect. In that very moment, I knew I wanted to be his forever. I never wanted to leave his side. I wanted to grow old with him, have babies with him, build a future with him and I had everything I wanted and needed right there with him.
We learned each other’s habits and made our adjustments. We were both so young, him at 22 and me at 19, yet we made the choice to marry. Now, if he had been from the same country, perhaps we wouldn’t have moved so fast. For us though, it was either we marry or I go back home, risking we couldn’t get back together again. It just wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. In December 1996, we registered to get married the following month, the day after Adam got paid. It was such an exciting time, but also scary. Marriage for me meant forever, not just for right now. Would I be able to cope with it all? I couldn’t even work until I had a permit which I couldn’t get until after we were married. I didn’t even have a clue where about in the country we actually were living. Silly I know, but geography wasn’t really big in my high school and outside of learning the US states and capitals, I didn’t pay much attention outside the American fishbowl. In fact before I came on only looked on a map once but didn’t really take too much notice and at that time I also had no idea Scotland was ‘attached’ to England. I had to learn to adjust to so many new things. It was quite a learning curve. It took time for me to learn the new local lingo, learn how the English socialised, what their social expectations were, having to change temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit so I could work out how cold or warm it was, getting used to the money and most of all trying to make new friends. It was different and a lot of hard effort, but I was willing to go through it all for Adam.
Our wedding day was very relaxed. With the marriage license at £22, a second hand wedding ring at £40 for Adam, one of his grandmother’s old rings, my shoes at £5, a fake flower bouquet also at £5, an old work dress and an old suit Adam had, we had a fairly cheap wedding. It was £72 well spent, because almost 21 years later we are still together. My mother in law and a couple of neighbour friends for witnesses was all we needed to complete the wedding. Adam and I were very nervous. Vows and promises like theses cannot be taken back. I was so nervous I actually laughed my way through my bits and my palms were dripping with sweat. Adam was also nervous but managed to not look as much of a silly idiot as I did. Karen, the neighbour friend made us all a small dinner for celebration, but Adam wasn’t well and to be honest, the chicken was still bloody and the veg still had ice crystals so I gave it a miss too. It was an interesting day and one I will always remember. What started out as a bit of fun on the internet soon turned into a lifelong commitment to the best man I have ever known. NT or Aspie, none of it was on our radar at the time, we just knew we fit together well. We instinctively knew we understood each other in a way no one else had ever done before or since. Did we make mistakes? Yes we did, many in fact. We were so very young. Since we met, I spent over half my life with his man. We have grown up together, matured together, learned life lessons with each other. We created two more lives together. It has only been since our diagnoses a few years ago, that we realised just how similar we really are. We both have our faults, but we understand what they, work together and find that our strengths and weakness complement each other’s. We work in tandem and the yin and yang of our characters actually help us grow. We aren’t perfect, but we are perfect for each other and perfect as we are.