Online romance seems to be taboo amongst traditionally minded people in the Caribbean.
“Do you really know this person?”
These are some of the mutterings you’ll hear. But I’m all for it, especially since I met my soon-to-be wife on Twitter.
I was not searching for romance, when I accepted yet another request to follow me on Twitter using my handle of @bajanpoet on April 18, 2012. I am a poet and spoken word artist, and I use Twitter to link with other authors across all genres.
One day, I accepted a new request from @boneyfideliones, especially because she was already following another spoken word artist that was a good friend of mine. She also stated that she was Trinidadian. I was getting a lot of links with people in the USA, but not many from other Caribbean islands.
She told me that she liked my work and invited me to be a special guest at her book launch in May. I wanted to network and I was very humbled by the request to showcase my work outside of my home country of Barbados.
We chatted for the next several days, and I asked her about her book, and kept encouraging her – until the worst nightmare of any author happened to her. Her computer crashed and she lost her manuscript, which was 99.9% complete! She was devastated.
While other people told her, “Don’t worry, you can always write another book”, or “What are you upset about? It’s just a book!” I couldn’t be so callous. I totally understood, because I had lost years of poetry to a bad Internet connection before. You feel like your baby has just died.
I immediately started sending comforting words and Internet “hugs”, letting her know that I was there for her any time she wanted to talk. Every day, I checked up on her, asking her how she was doing. She said later that she wondered who was this person who was giving her all of this encouragement; she said that she felt as though I was probably telling all the girls the same thing. But, as we continued to chat, she realized that I was genuine.
Our online conversations moved from Twitter, to Facebook, to e-mail, and then to instant messaging, using Gmail chat. We talked every day, several times a day, getting closer and closer, moving from the book and poetry to personal questions.
We became friends, realizing that we both liked to joke around and be goofy, and that we enjoyed each other’s company. Our conversations eventually moved to Skype, where we talked every night. I shouldn’t really say that the conversations moved from one medium to another; it was more that it became layered, using every form of media available to keep in constant contact. I realized that she did not live in Trinidad like I had thought, but in Boston.
We navigated finding an older copy of her book, and I encouraged her to fix it up again. Our relationship became such that I became her literary agent. I helped her edit her book, and prepared it for Amazon’s digital publication medium CreateSpace.
In the middle of all of this, we started to really become attracted to one another. I told her once that I loved her in a Skype conversation – that admission surprised both of us! I had said that I wasn’t looking for love – and she had been hurt so much in the past that she was not about to start a relationship with me. She told me somewhat as a joke that I should come and see her. I wasn’t joking, though. And I immediately planned my trip to her home in the States.
I know you’re thinking, “But how are your sure that she’s safe? How do you know someone via just words on a screen?” And yes, I know how easy it is to pretend to be someone you’re not online. But, for me, one of the major, deciding factors was her decision to share her passwords with me.
She was so open that she had invited me to check up on her to see if she was lying about anything – she gave me all her passwords to all her social media and e-mail accounts, and told me that I could ask anyone about what she was saying if I wanted to verify. I thought, “Wow, if she is that open, and we are talking only online, there is no way I would be in any danger if I went to visit her.”
She never gave me any reasons to doubt her, and I did take her up on her offer, going into her accounts and reading the messages left there. Everything panned out, so I was confident going to see her was going to be fine.
I am not expecting everyone you meet to be that open, but if they seem genuinely willing to open up and have you check out behind them in some fashion, they are probably legit. If they seem shifty and nothing seems to add up, then stay far away.
I also looked at her web presence in every social network we shared – was she being one way with me on Google Chat, but a different person on Twitter? Her consistency made me trust her. When we started to talk via Skype, I saw again that who she portrayed on the phone was the same person she portrayed in her writing. So really, conversation snagged me, but consistency kept me!
We grew together because of constant communication. Just like with an offline relationship, the more time you spend with someone, the more comfortable you get with them.
I fell for her honesty, her frankness. I told her that I loved her authenticity – the fact that she does not act fake with people. What you see is exactly what you get. I picked that up with our conversations – even though we’d never met in person.
It was when I was planning this trip that I got the dissenting voices that I hinted at in the beginning of this article. Several people cautioned me against going to see this woman I had never met, and one of my parents muttered darkly about another Barbadian man who had left Barbados to meet someone he had met online – and had been murdered in some sick Satanic ritual!
I weighed the options and decided to take the risk. I told my family that she was paying for my ticket so that we could meet face to face and discuss her book. This was true, but it was not the full reason! I wrote her a poem before I got to her home, and, on the first night, recited the poem to her like a wedding vow. We always use May 2, 2012 as the ‘official’ start of our relationship, because it was on that day that we saw each other for the first time. We talked for a long time, and, being that it was finally face to face, it made it concrete and real.
I had a great week in her home, getting to know her. After I left Boston, she made her way to Barbados, and, as I write this article, she is here with me, on vacation and feeling out my island. Now that my friends and family have met her, they have fallen in love with her as well. And my friends have accepted her wholeheartedly.
We really have connected on every level – body, mind and soul. She wants to move to Barbados next year, and we are planning to get married. We realize that we have a lot in common – our jovial natures, our determination, our caring natures – we just fit together like the proverbial hand in glove.
I know that not everyone is going to be comfortable with starting a romance online. But, to me, it’s like the first time you thought about buying something online with a credit card. There’s some level of apprehension and worry about identity theft, but now, most people buy online without a second thought. You learn how to figure out safe ways to operate online. Online romance can work the same way. It worked for me.
Image via fabandfru.com