The following is a very true, well-documented story of love, heartache, world travel, going up against Homeland Security and a few miracles that showed me anything is possible if you take a leap of faith and let fate do its thing...
After two glorious weeks of celebrating my thirtieth birthday in Europe with a girlfriend from Vöcklabruck, Austria, I hoped a train solo to Vienna, where my flight was scheduled to depart two days later. I'd planned to wander around the historic city and take it easy during my last 48 hours in Europe. Little did I know, Fate had other plans for me. My future Husband was due to arrive on the same train four hours later...
12pm June 19, 2008.
I exited the Wien Westbahnhof train station in Vienna to the sound of sirens. I overheard a couple talking about how this was the third time the sirens had gone off today. "The rivalry between Turkey and Croatia must be getting out of hand."
Thankfully, an English speaking cab driver approached me and asked if I needed a ride.
I happily accepted the offer, then reached into my back pocket for the piece of paper I wrote the hotel info down on. It was gone.
Semi-freaking out, I looked up at the cabbie and said, "Oh, No! The piece of paper I wrote the hotel information down on is gone. I had it in my back pocket."
He shook his head, "Probably got picked. With the 2008 European Football Championship game going on, the city is drawing opportunist from all over. Which hotel are you staying at?"
"The Hotel Kummer."
"I know exactly where it is. Mariahilferstrasse."
"What's with the sirens?"
"The fans are drunk and out of control near the stadium. The rivalries are turning into dangerous riots. I wouldn't recommend going out at night by yourself."
After getting settled in at the hotel, I walked down to the stadium to check out the scene. After a few hours of sightseeing, I retreated to the hotel's restaurant for dinner.
Since I was dining alone I opted for a seat at the bar. I ordered a glass of red wine and a grilled chicken salad.
As I took my last bite of dinner, out of the corner of my eye I see a guy walk up to the bar. I didn't pay much attention to him until I heard him answer the bartender, in a very desperate tone, "I'll have two fingers of your best scotch, my good man.”
I couldn't help but laugh. The poor guy was clearly in need of a drink!
The guy turned this head towards me and said, “Ha, someone speaks English!”
I laughed again. "I sure do, I'm American."
"Bloody Hell." He stuck out his hand, looked me in the eye and said, Good to meet you. I'm Australian."
When our eyes and hands met, A HUGE rush of fiery energy shot through my body.
I lost my breath.
(He later told me the same thing happened to him!)
It truly was, Love At First Sight.
Long story short, we ended up talking and laughing until the bartender threw us out.
We slowly slid off our bar stools, clearly neither wanting the night to end. To my delight, my new friend asked if I would like to take a midnight stroll through, Vienna.
Of course, I said, "Yes!"
Sure, I knew he could be a psycho serial killer picking up lonely Americans.
I didn’t care.
I was in stupid-mad-love with this man.
We stepped out onto the street, he took my hand in his, and off we went.
We walked the streets, hand-in-hand. Window shopping, sight-seeing and regularly stopping at park benches to sit and talk.
We made our way back to the hotel. He walked me to my room and we said our goodbyes. He said he hoped to see me again, kissed me on the cheek and went to his room.
As I watched him walk back to his room, smitten, I told myself I could NEVER see him again.
We are from opposite ends of the planet.
Nothing about that had any promise of a future.
I've had my heart broken once or twice before; no way was I going to sign up for that again!
I could barely sleep, so I spent the wee hours of the morning telling myself he was too good to be true and was probably a psycho serial killer after all.
I woke up mid-morning to the phone ringing. Since he was the only person I knew in Vienna, that would call my hotel room. I ignored the call. I snuck out of the hotel for lunch, walked around the packed streets and retreated to my room for a nap.
When I woke up, I found a note slipped under the door from Mr. Wonderful. It said how much he enjoyed my company, and really hoped to see me again.
I took a shower, left the hotel and willed myself to ignore him.
Ugh. I couldn’t hold out anymore. I went back to the hotel and called his room.
We met in the lobby 20 minutes later. He took me on a short tour of the area around our hotel and then invited me to dinner with him and his grandfather. I declined but, agreed to a drink afterward.
Long story longer….
We met for the drink and ended up walking the streets again hand in hand. At one point we stopped and sat on a bench where he pulled out a set of teardrop earrings. He said he purchased them for me earlier in the day when shopping with his grandfather. I was speechless. He was way too good to be true!
9 am. June 20, 2008
The next morning he came to my room to help me down with my luggage. In the lobby, he told me he ordered a car service to take me to the airport because he wanted to "make sure I made it safely to the airport."
LORD HAVE MERCY!
As I pulled away from the curb, I looked back at him standing there looking as sad on the outside as I felt on the inside. I burst into tears. Why was I leaving my true Prince Charming on the side of the road in Vienna? This was a once in a lifetime meeting, and I was leaving!
Needless to say, I cried the whole 10-hour flight home.
Once back in the States, there was already an email from FTD telling me how much he enjoyed meeting me, and let him know when I had made it home safely…. I cried some more.
We emailed and Skyped the entire month of July incessantly. By the end of the month, he (finally) asked me to come to Australia.
He was running a business and could not leave. I was changing jobs, so the timing was perfect for me.
August 13, 2008. I flew to Australia. For what I thought would be two-weeks...
I snuggled up to my Aussie high atop Mt. Baw Baw, where it snowed regularly. Yes, snowed. But that's only the beginning. Our water was from a well. Propane takes warmed it for showers. Electricity came from a diesel powered generator. We ran it only when needed since diesel deliveries were expensive and few and far between. Internet was dial-up. Food was cooked on a pot belly stove.
Say hello to my mountain man!
Happily, I became his mountain woman...
I fed wild birds every morning!
On December 4, 2008, WE flew back to the states together. (So much for 2 weeks!)
We spent the holidays in the States meeting my family and friends. Of course, they loved him and gave me their seal of approval. Not that I doubted it.
2009- mid-2010 Australia and the US
We spent the next eighteen months stretching Visas out to the max. Never separating, always traveling together. We were sick in love!
May 2010, Melbourne, Australia
My mother called me in Australia to let me know we needed to come home quickly, my grandmother was very sick. We went to get his Visa from the US consulate and were told, "NO!"
Not only was it a 'no' to the Visa, but it was also a, "No more Visas for five years." He was no longer going to be considered a tourist. He had spent too much time in the States over the last two years and was officially a flight risk. Our only option was to move our wedding plans up to ASAP.
USCIS told us that I had to fly back to the States alone to file the I-129F Fiancé Visa paperwork to get FTD back into the states. I still had to fly back to my ailing grandmother, so I booked the next flight out. Leaving FTD in the Melbourne airport, not sure when I would see him again, was devastating.
I flew back to the States and filed the paperwork immediately.
I also submitted every letter possible to expedite the process, called my congressman and anyone else I thought could help. I spent nearly four months in agony, scared, unsure and most of all annoyed. It did not matter how much I loved FTD, both the U.S. government and the Australian government dictated whether or not we could be together. I hated it.
We were Aliens in love.
Thankfully, it didn't take a year for the Visa to come through. We were back together on September 1, 2010. Not wanting to waste any more time, we married on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10)
We settled into married life with ease. Dropped anchor in the States, slowed down and started a family.
Today, we are a crazy lot. There's never a dull moment...
Ten years of marriage and a beautiful son later, life is pretty damn good
Photo: Taken the night we met by a street vendor.
For years I've been told to write a book about the whole story. There were so many crazy events, coincidences and life lessons...
I always said I wouldn't wrtite it unless my husband wrote his side of the story. His thoughts, feelings, reactions to the crazy stuff.
Well, after years of begging, he said, Yes!
We're writing the book... FOLLOWING FATE