Online and Long Distance - Real Love Story

So this is my story.

I met Atala on a message board in 2007. He was an anonymous commenter, just like I was. I was more open so most regular commenters knew I was from Asaba, and that I lived in Edinburgh. He was this aloof guy, very very private. I was impressed by his intelligence, and how helpful he generally was to the members of the board, old and new. With time, we began to exchange banters on the site, and I found out that he was also based in the UK. He was a volunteer on the site, and when I also joined the team, we got a chance to work together, and I was further bowled over.

I'm a firm believer in going for what I want and when I became single later that year, I reached out to him with a personal message to wish him Happy Christmas. He replied that he had recently moved to the US, and my heart sank. I didn't believe in long distance relationships, especially with someone I hadn't met first. So I tried to put him out of my mind and look out for other options.

I went to Nigeria for Easter, and organised a meet-up with fellow message board members. The pictures of the party were circulated on the forum, and a few days later, I got a message from Atala. He said he knew I would be deluged with admirers and just wanted to get in line. That was such a corny line, but it got me. Still, I took about a week or so to think about it. I liked him, but he still lived in the US while I was in the UK. Anyway, I told him to send in his application, and that started a witty introduction.

Our communication moved from the forum's private messages to emails, phone calls and web cam, and it was as if we'd known each other for ever. Our conversations lasted hours, and we would speak everyday, and still exchange emails. However, after three months of this, I mentioned that what we had wasn't serious as I hadn't met him. He pulled back then, and we decided it wouldn't work.

I missed him like hell, but had to get back to my life, what I called real life as opposed to online life. We stopped calling each other, and kept our distance on the board. However, just over a month later, I noticed that he seemed to want another chance. He sent a message and I told him to call if he wanted to. My phone begun to ring immediately. Honestly, my heart melted then.

We spoke for longer than we ever had that night, and he said he was willing, ready and able to give a relationship with me his all. I had never stopped caring for him, but I knew I couldn't do an LDR if we did not meet. He said he would do something about it. A week later, he sent me his itinerary for a flight he booked to visit me a month later. I was like OMG, I couldn't believe it was happening.

It almost didn't happen. About a couple of days to his visit, he said something that almost spoilt it all. It was an emotional night, and when we got over that, I knew for certain, he was THE ONE. Meeting him at the airport after that was so exciting, and emotional too. I was scared though, what if he didn't like me? What if we didn't hit it off? All my fears were unnecessary. He stayed with me for a week, and it was beautiful.

He visited two more times in the next three months, and by then, we were talking marriage. On the second visit, we picked out an engagement ring together, and I organised a party for him to meet some of my friends formally. I thought the proposal was going to be nothing special, I was expecting it after all. But he surprised me. He got down on one knee, and sang a beautiful song he'd composed specially for the occasion. Words cannot describe what I felt.

Atala often says he's not a romantic, and he's certainly not a textbook one. But who needs textbooks when you can write your own? We didn't want to share the private emails, or the song he proposed with, but he agreed to write this poem which captures how he felt then, and how he still feels now.

The rising sun after the darkest night,
The comforting hand after a fearful fright,
The healing force that stills a raging blight,
None of these compare to having you in my life.

A sparkling jewel set in a golden crown,
The dazzling smile that lifts a brooding frown,
The wings that bear aloft when one is plummeting down,
All these are but naught to having you in my life.

For a long time my world was seen in shades of grey,
Then you happened, and all my clouds were chased away;

So I'll pass up on wealth more than a sum I could name,
Keep stepping when tempted by the trappings of fame,
Don't care about playing the power and prestige game,
I'd forsake all of these for having you as my wife.

{Personal pictures removed}

And this my beautiful people is how we wrap up the month of love. I hope others are as moved and inspired as I am from all the different glimpses of what has worked and how love can be. Thanks to all those who shared their stories with us this month. And special thanks to all those who have been consistent with comments.

I look forward to March, and wish everyone the best!
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