Hmm.... where to begin?

In August of 1997, I was living with my then husband who I  had been with for nearly eight years. We lived in a very tiny apartment that was just big enough to house me, our dog, him and his co-dependency on anything he could find. He wasn't home for more than a few minutes at a time and even when he was, I was pretty lonely, having only three things, God, Elijah (our dog) and my favourite radio station (Kiss 98.5 in Buffalo, New York), keeping me sane. I kept praying that God make my husband well if he meant for us to stay together, or show me another option than the lifestyle I was enduring.

My 31st birthday was approaching. Since staying with my father and step-mother five years earlier and learning the joy of chatting on Bulletin Boards, the only thing I really wanted was my own computer. Given the situation I lived in, it was a blessing that my parents were willing to finance a new computer and printer for me for my birthday. Free internet service was one of the benefits of my husband's job at a small computer company, so I was ready to chat!

I was online the first time on 5 September. I didn't know much about the internet and search engines but I had heard of Yahoo! so I signed up for Yahoo! chat. Being painfully shy, it was difficult to find a category to join, but there were regional rooms so I looked there. Having lived in Massachusetts for thirteen years, I decided Boston chat would be my chat room. There were a lot of really nice people in there and I made a lot of friends.

By November I had a routine, after work I'd turn Kiss 98.5 on, change into comfortable clothes, then feed the dog and let him outside. At the time, Yahoo! chat had a 'start chatting' button that would drop you into a 30-Somethings Romance room and from there I could navigate to Boston chat. Since it took a few minutes to load into the romance room, I'd take the opportunity to grab a sandwhich, a bottle of water and run to the bathroom before retiring to my computer for the evening. On 15 November, I followed this routine and when I returned to my chair with my dinner, I noticed that someone in the Romance room was speaking to me. A man called Lord_Elpus said, "Lord_Elpus kneels before Lady Nina and kisses her hand." Not knowing what to think, I said, "Huh?" Then a man called Snickleberry said, "Chivalry isn't dead, you know." I said, "Isn't it?" This was our first meeting. Mark was both Englishmen but only used Snickleberry after that.

At first, I didn't know what to think of this Knight of mine. I had never seen any form of chivalry and thought the whole thing odd but I was intrigued. A few days being caught up in this charming persona was all I could take, I had to find out if the real man was as wonderful as the made-up one. We discussed anything and everything. As much as I tried to be the faithful wife, I couldn't stop what was happening. We were completely compatible with each other.

I don't believe in love at first sight or anything but within a week or two we were in love. Neither of us mentioned our feelings for the other but we both felt it. Now we had a problem. We were never going to be able to meet in person, how could we? (London is 3,500 miles from Buffalo!) If I had any money when I went to sleep, it was usually gone when I woke up. (Of course my co-dependent husband never knew what happened to it when I asked him.) Mark's wife had just left him and he'd bought a house in August so he couldn't afford to send for me so soon.

On 27 November, I was listening to the radio, as usual, while Mark and I were chatting on ICQ. As we're sitting there discussing how we wished there was a way for us to meet in person, I hear the DJ announce a contest to win a "Chumbawamba" CD that would give you a chance in the drawing for one person to win tickets for two people to see "Chumbawamba" in concert in London England! I excitedly told Mark about it and how it was sent from God, just for us to meet!

The contest was all Thanksgiving weekend, with the draw for the trip to be on Monday 1December. Every hour the DJ on at the time would give away one or two CD's. Once I saw how they were giving them away, my heart sank. They asked that you call in, stand in the bathtub, fill your mouth with leftovers, and while jumping up and down, holding the phone, sing "Tubthumping" very loud! I just couldn't do it! I did spend hours trying to get through but couldn't, (I was kind of relieved). Then came Sunday, the last day to win a CD before the drawing! My husband happened to stay home that day and wouldn't let me have the radio on so he could watch tv, so I sat in a chair for hours, forfeiting chat time on ICQ with Mark, wearing my Walkman and holding the phone on my lap, waiting for Chris Daniels (the dj who wasn't torturing anybody), to tell me to call in. Finally he said he'd take the ninth and tenth callers, so I called, then hit redial a million times until it rang. It's ringing, he must have the right callers already.......static....... You're the 9th caller, what's your name?

I know it sounds weird, but from that moment, I knew for sure that this contest was just for me. Since it began, I'd been hearing the word London popping up everywhere I went. Then, to affirm that it was mine, I went to the evening Church service, since I'd missed the morning service. At Church, there was a guest preacher who was talking about England! What are the chances? After Church, I went home, got online, told Mark about winning the CD and told him that the drawing was in the morning and to think real hard about me from eleven AM til twelve Noon, London time so I'd win. He said he would and we said goodnight. After that, I took the phone out from under the armchair, where I kept it, and put it on my computer chair in the middle of the floor so it would be easier to get to in the morning when they called me to tell me I had won. (Honest).

1December, I woke up before the alarm went off, turning Kiss on immediately so I could lay there and listen to them calling my name on the radio. I really didn't know how they did these things, I'd never won anything so major before. Time was going by and they hadn't mentioned anything about the trip. I was running out of time to take a shower before work, so I got up to walk to the bathroom, feeling kind of deflated. I'd just stepped past the phone when it rang!! Who else is going to call me in the morning? Nobody ever calls me! I instantly start shaking all over, afraid to touch the phone, it rings a second time, afraid not to pick it up..... I grab it.....Hello?  I hear Janet, Nick and Wease (the morning crew).... Janet says, Is Dawn there please?   Wanna hear the rest? (That's the small file, for the 1Mb clear version, click here and be patient.)

I've never been to any other country besides Canada, which, in Buffalo, is like across the street. I haven't just won concert tickets to London, I've won a  new life of happiness with my Knight in our own fairy tale!! Kiss awarded me the trip and will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks guys!

Mark and I got married to each other after seven months apart in 2000, when I went back to the states to live with my parents until I paid for my divorce and Mark took care of his divorce. That time apart was the hardest thing we've had to do since we met, but it means we don't have to be apart anymore now. We tried to invite the morning crew from Kiss 98.5, but they couldn't make the wedding on such short notice. We were married in August 2000 at the Wintergardens at Niagara Falls, and are presently living happily ever after. :-)