You've Got Mail: My real-life version of a Nora Ephron flick

It was February 12, 1998 and I was bored. None of my usual chat friends were online that night. I decided to play around with ICQ’s new “Random Chat” feature. Random Chat allowed users to make themselves available for chats with other users who “find” them. I came across someone with the screen name “McCully” and decided to chat with the person.

I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember my impressions. This guy was not well-versed in online chat. I don’t know why, but I found that endearing and also reassuring that he wasn’t a crazy stalker type. That first night, McCully (who I soon found out was really Matt from Canada), asked if he could call me. I think we spent about an hour on the phone that first night. He admitted to me later that he wanted to call to make sure I was girl. It turns out, I was who I said I was. 

All that spring, we chatted online, emailed and talked on the phone for hours. I actually got special permission from my landlord to install a second phone line in my apartment. My first bill was a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping $300 (including the installation fees). Ouch! Even for a college student on a tight budget, every penny of that bill was worth it.

In April, I told Matt I was going to fly up to Canada to meet him in person. I picked the Victoria Day weekend in May because it gave him more flexibility with getting time off. I’ll never forget the first moment I saw him. I knew that he was the one for me. We had a great time that weekend, seeing the sights in Ottawa and meeting his parents. We said goodbye with the promise that he would book a time to come to Florida.

That summer in 1998 was one of the hottest years of my entire life in Florida - it may have been THE hottest. There were forest fires happening in a number of areas of the state, highways were closed due to reduced visibility because of the smoke - and Matt came to Florida for the first time in his adult life in the middle of all of this. In August. The hottest month of the year. By the end of the week, he was 100% sure he never wanted to live in Florida. And, frankly, I couldn’t blame him. I didn’t particularly want to live in Florida either.

It was an easy decision that I would move north to live in Canada. 

We continued going back and forth between Canada and Florida for almost 3 years as we went through the application process for me to become a Permanent Resident of Canada. In late October 2000, I got my Permanent Resident Visa at long last. I called Matt, told him I could move to Canada by American Thanksgiving and we began making plans.

The next day, I handed in my resignation at both my jobs with a huge smile on my face - not because I was happy to leave, but because I was happy to finally move to Canada.

The year 2000 was a huge year for me, full of many changes that were hard.

Almost as soon as I took the necessary steps to leave, I became depressed and stopped sleeping. My doctor rattled off a list of events, wanting to know if any of them had happened in the last year. I think about 5 had or were about to happen - re-org at work (my boss that I really liked was let go), I had moved twice (and was about to move a third time to a whole new country), I had to put my cat down a few weeks earlier (very suddenly; he had FIP), and I was about to get married! Added to my personal dramas, November 2000 started with the great Gore/Bush Presidential election controversy that generated a huge media presence in Tallahassee - the likes of which I don’t think any of us who lived through it will ever forget.

Stress abounded, but Matt and I plowed through and did what had to be done, leaving my family behind on November 22, 2000 after celebrating an early Thanksgiving with them.

Matt and I arrived in Ottawa around 5:00pm on November 24th, 2000 and were greeted by a beautiful snow storm. It was dark as we drove through the busy streets during rush-hour, but we had this gorgeous view of softly falling snow all around us. We were home.

Two weeks after I moved to Ottawa, Matt and I went with two friends to the home of a man who performed the legal ceremony that bound us together in the eyes of the law. It was December 5, a Tuesday night, and we wore relatively casual clothes for such a life-changing ceremony. We didn’t exchange rings, because we wanted to do that at a celebration with our families. When we finally had the big wedding eight months later, we paid homage to ICQ with the southern tradition of a groom’s cake.

This cake was one of my favorite parts of my wedding. It was a symbol of how we met and communicated for a very long time. And it was a southern tradition I brought with me to an new country - very, very cool.

Through all the good and not-so-good times, Matt and I have remained the best of friends. We laugh together, cry together, experience life together and choose to love each other every step of the way.

And yes, we went to see You’ve Got Mail together, too. It’s a cute movie, but living the real thing is a million times better.

So, what’s your story? How did you meet your significant other? Was it conventional meeting or would it be considered unusual?