On 1 February 2009, I emailed a Canadian girl, asking her if she wanted to be pen pals. I never imagined what would follow.
Laura and I began by sending hundred-word emails every few days. Then every day. And then several times a day. We moved on to speaking in real time via Internet chat for several hours each day, and eventually grew brave enough to talk on the phone. You see, we’re both introverts and both of us see ourselves as a bit socially awkward; it’s miraculous that we found each other.
In fact, the odds of two seemingly random people from different countries becoming such close friends was all I could think about. Laura and I had fallen in love. I decided to go to Canada for a week. The time we shared far outweighed my unfortunate experience with Canadian border control in Ottawa, trying to explain that I was alone and on my way to see someone I’d never ‘met’ before. She later reciprocated by flying – for the first time in her life – to the capital city.
We had found love, had visited in each other’s countries, and the time came for us to take a leap of faith. Laura left her family, friends, and home to come live with me at university in Aberdeen; she was on a two-year Youth Mobility Scheme visa. The risk was not lost on either of us, yet it worked out wonderfully. It was easy, even, and the two of us wound up going everywhere together.
Two years seemed, in the beginning, like it would last much longer. We got a cat, we did the shopping, we went on holiday. We built a home. She loved the proximity to cities that northern Ontario doesn’t have. Laura embraced my Welsh culture as I did hers. The adventures moved our time along at a much faster pace than we imagined. After her visa expired, Laura returned to Canada
It wasn’t until after Laura had returned to Canada because of her visa limitations that the immigration rules changed, testing our relationship like never before.
We’ve only been together for three weeks since 2010. Despite that, we’ve been creative, finding new ideas to maintain a long-distance relationship. I have a job, which pays nearly £18,600, so I hope that we’ll soon be together again.
Airports have become the most emotionally charged space for us. I associate them, firstly, with anguish and, secondly, with delight. My dream is that I’ll never again have to watch my heartbroken love pass through a departure gate with the feeling that I’ve been split in half, not knowing when I’ll see her again.