My story is a love story.
I met my fiance on Second Life in 2005. We were not looking for anything, since we were both in relationships, but we ended up falling in love. Our real life relationships were not going anywhere and both of us felt empty inside.
The only problem was that we lived in two different countries. He's in Wales, and I am in the USA. Fortunately for us, the BBC in London and ITV were looking for a story... and they found us. As it happens, they even flew us to meet each other for the first time and filmed a made-for-broadband documentary about our love. Since then, we've been very lucky to have flown back and forth and seen each other numerous times. It's been 5 years since we met online. We are engaged. We've appeared on TV, on the show "This Morning in London." We've been in Newsweek Magazine twice. Once part of the top story of the week for the International Edition of Newsweek Magazine in June 2007 and once featured in an online story on their site, just about us. The History Channel has filmed a show about how we met online and it's going to be airing soon. We've been on different radio shows, and in many newspapers and magazines.
Our lives have changed so much since we met online. We motivate each other. When I first met him he was overweight and didn't think he'd ever meet anyone, he thought he'd die at his computer desk in his computer chair a lonely old man. I was in a bad relationship, and I never thought I'd ever get away (escape). With each other's help we have motivated each other to be better people, and to live our lives fully and do what we want to do in life. I flew back to California and went back to college. I graduate this May. I've been working and going to school for the past 2 years all the while just wishing I could be with him. He's given up his bad eating habits and dropped a lot of weight. He went from being over 200 pounds (at 5'5") to getting down to 133 lbs, and having 6 pack abs and bodybuilding.
Our love story is not easily explained. I've often been asked by friends "Why aren't you two married yet?" Well, it's complicated... One reason is that both of us are relatively very poor. I made only $7,000 last year, and I have kids, and am a full time student. He's a single parent of an autistic son. His son is 16. He gave up his career many years ago to be a full time caregiver for his son. For us to be able to be together, one of us has to have the income to support the other, and their kids.
The worst part of all of this is not that we are poor, but that because we are poor, we don't have the right to be together. According to immigration's rules, we're not financially able to be married/together. So, we live apart, hoping that one day we will be "rich enough" to live with the person we love. To be together. It's hard for a lot of people to comprehend what it is like to be away from the person you love for over 5 years... even harder to explain to people how we just want to do it right.
I've been told, why don't you just go over there and never come back? Take the kids and go be with him? And I reply, "And risk being deported and never allowed back?" I can't do that. I love him too much. The best way I know to get a better income is to get a better education. This is what I am trying to do, and hopefully soon I will get a better income/job and be able to be approved for a Fiance Visa for him.
We really are dedicated to each other, and we are hoping a miracle will happen. So far, it's all been Miracles. It was a Miracle that we met on Second Life, and an even bigger Miracle that we have been able to meet in person. I just hope that it doesn't take too many more years. We've waited all our lives to find a relationship like the one that we have, we are both in our 40's. We never thought we'd find the one for us on the other side of the world, but we have. Our story is all over the internet, if you google "Rhonda Lillie and Paul Hawkins" you can read about us. My dream is to be able to go there to work and marry him... or him come here and marry me here.
We married each other on Second Life, all we need now is for it to become a reality in our first life.
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