On December 17th 1999, I was sat in my little bedroom/office surfing the net, feeling bored and lonely..... it`s strange how you can be married AND lonely, but I digress, that is another story...... I had 3 messenger programs running, Yahoo, MSN and ICQ. I was looking to chat with someone about just about anything! It was late and I should have already been in bed but I just felt that another few minutes wouldn't hurt.
A message came in on ICQ that said, "Hi Mike"
I replied saying, "Hi, and whom are you?"
The reply to that was, "My name is Pam, and I live in Texas".
I wrote back, "Hi Pam from Texas".
There began a friendship that was to blossom into something that neither of us expected.
On that first meeting, the time was coming up for midnight in the UK and Pam was just getting in from work at that time, just 6pm in Texas. I was ready for bed, tired after a long day and a strained evening at home. We chatted for maybe just a few minutes and I had to go, I promised to talk longer at another time. I don`t think I saw Pam online for a while after that. When we did eventually get to chat again, we exchanged photos and, again, it was late for me and my bed was calling me. Later, we found that a Saturday night and Sunday morning and evening were the best times to chat online, I was alone in the house and free to talk for an hour or so at each time. Our friendship grew online, we were able to find out things about each other because neither of us told any lies about ourselves. I think it was crucial for me to be honest and not hide anything, after all, I was still married and not free to engage in anything other than chat.
During February 2000, I was working away from home in Scotland and Pam and I had arranged that we might try and talk on the phone. This was going to be an expensive thing for Pam to do, but she decided to do it anyway. I was due to be in an hotel in Peterhead, Scotland on St. Valentines Day 2000 and Pam was to call me around 7pm UK time, I had given her the number of the hotel before I left on my working trip and told her how to dial the number with the international code, of course, at that time I had no idea what room I would be in so that was going to be a small hurdle for her when she phoned. We had arranged this time of day (7pm) to give her time to get in from work for a lunch break and for me to get my stuff over and done with, shower after work and dinner out of the way. Would you believe that I actually got dressed up for this phone call? as if she could have seen me anyway!! To receive that first call from Pam on Valentines Day, and to hear her voice was something special, for me it meant a lot and the memory of that first phone call is something that I still cherish very much in my heart.
We talked for about 90 minutes and this first phone call left me with the most wonderful warm feeling inside, something that I had never expected. I have since discovered that Pam does this to me all the time, she is the most wonderful person to talk to at any time of the day, on or off the phone.
After that one call, we exchanged phone calls more often, usually just for a short time but eventually, we ended up speaking on the phone for an hour or more on a daily basis. This became too expensive for us but neither of us could stop it, we seemed to have this need to talk to each other all the time. I know that I would be looking forward to the next call as soon as I hung up. Just occasionally, we recorded a little message using the Windows Voice Recorder and then sent them by e-mail, anything just to keep in touch with each other. Before long, I was talking on the phone and the 'net to Pam's daughters Melissa and Tammy, getting to know them as well and falling in love with Pam. I remember the first time I told her that I loved her, it was through one of the recorded messages that I sent to her. Not the most romantic way to convey ones love but it happened that way and it didn't seem to matter much to either of us, as long as we meant it.
Eventually, Pam decided that she wanted to visit me in England and she took the very brave step of flying over for 10 days. I met her at the airport and we exchanged our first kiss...... That was amazing, like nothing I had ever experienced before and that remains in my heart also as a wonderful memory. Those 10 days were magical, we were staying at my parents home, in separate rooms because I was not fully divorced then and my parents were a bit old fashioned about things like that. At the breakfast table, we played footsie under the table while we chatted with my parents. During those wonderful days, we visited my daughter and her husband, the city of York where we spent two days sightseeing and just getting to know each other more and then came back to my parents home from where we took short trips out to local places. Pam was amazed at our local supermarkets and the kind of things that they sold, the colourful markets with the fresh meat and fresh vegetables for sale and above all with the grandeur of the architecture in the cathedrals of Lincoln and York. She was also fascinated by the narrow streets and how many of the houses in towns have their front entrances right on the street, with just the footpath separating them from the road. The river Trent runs past my parents house and we took walks along the river bank, Pam wearing my coat to keep the wind out and we stopped to kiss now and then. All in all it was a wonderful time and it was difficult to let her go at the airport at the end of her visit.
Once she had gone through the security barrier into the departure lounge, I went up onto the roof and the public observation area of the airport. I could see her plane and hope that she could see me. I found out later that she never did see me. Anyway, while I waited for her plane to go, I found a note in my pocket. Pam had written that while I went to get us some food and drink earlier and she pushed it into my pocket. I read it and started to cry. If I could have got her off the plane I would have done there and then but I knew that I couldn't and I fought back the tears. After her flight had taken off, I watched it until it disappeared into the clouds and went back to my car. During the four hour drive home, I had many times when my tears would run, something I had never experienced before and it made me want to be with Pam again as soon as was possible. When I got home, I walked in and told my parents, "Well, she is on the way home and I am going to miss her". I went up to my room and dissolved into tears again. Those tears came and went for weeks afterwards, mostly while I was driving to or from my work in the bakeries around the country, but they lessened as time went on and I had a new goal to look forward to.....my first visit to Texas, and Pam!
So, six months after our first meeting, I was flying out to Texas to stay with Pam for ten days. This time, I was divorced, I was single again, I could be myself again for the first time in many years. Tired as I was on arrival at Amarillo airport, I ran into her arms and we kissed again, the first for six months! It was late but we stopped on the way to Bovina for a meal, got to her home and I think that I soon collapsed happy into bed. Sadly Pam and her family lost a brother very early in my visit, so I got to meet all the family in rather difficult circumstances, there are a lot of them!!
During that visit to Texas, we drove to Austin to visit my daughter and her husband, who had moved to the USA for his work, we spent a couple of days there before returning to Bovina and more family gatherings following the loss of their brother Al Webb. We visited Walmart of course, and generally had another wonderful time until it was time for me to go home. For me, this parting was just a little bit easier because I had a feeling in my heart that we would soon be together again.
On the 4th January 2003, I asked Pam if she would marry me. She accepted my proposal and the rest is history now.
Now that we are married (8 years in July 2011), we have never looked back and never thought that we did wrong by getting married, our love seems to know no bounds and we are constantly being caught up together in tears of happiness. In whatever we are doing here is always time to stop for a cuddle or a kiss, a touch on the shoulder, or a smile.
I for one, have never felt happier.
Music: Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy