You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Us? What does that mean?”. Well, it can be further defined as “We”, or better yet… “Russ and Cheryl”.

Honestly, it’s a very simple story:

Several years ago (1995) a friend, Aimee, introduced me to (basically) an online text-based chat room called “HoloMUCK”. I knew a few of the folks (they had been Aimee’s college friends) and she felt that I needed to “hang out” with folks since my wreck had forced me into a fairly deep depression (and she felt this would be a good way to occupy my time).

The first time I logged onto Holo, I met “Sjade”/”Belgarath”… who wasn’t very talkative (I took this as ‘snotty’), even though he was listed as one of the folks that would help you if you had a problem. He didn’t seem terribly happy about having to deal with someone that had never done this kind of thing before, and needed some help… so I went off to find someone else that was more willing to give me assistance. After he saw that I was going to be there on an ongoing basis, he became more “willing” to help me.

As the years went on we went from being casual acquaintances to casual friends to confidantes. One day he announced that it was time for him to make some drastic changes in his life, starting with relocating (he was living in extreme NE Maine). I asked him where he wanted to go, and he named off a few places (one of which being Missouri) and I began combing through the papers for Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield looking to see if there was anything in his field (Systems Administration).

He found a position in Springfield, and agreed to interview for it. He called me several days in advance, and asked if I would be willing to drive to Kansas City (about 2 1/2 hours away) to pick him up… or should he book a rental car. I, of course, told him that I would pick him up. Sadly, this was before I was stricken with a NASTY case of the flu (I don’t ever remember being that sick, for that long… although the ER did ‘confirm’ that it was the flu). I vaguely remember the trip to the airport, meeting him for the first time, and his whole stay… but I think I pushed the far limits of our friendship as he had to, basically, play nursemaid… when he wasn’t interviewing for jobs.

After several months of traveling back and forth, every few weeks, interviewing for various jobs, he finally decided to make the plunge and move to SW Missouri… and live off of his 401k plan until he found something (whether it be Systems Administrator, or flipping burgers at McDonalds). Luckily a few weeks after he arrived here, one of the jobs he had interviewed for (on several occasions, as they weeded through prospects) called and told him that the job was his. The job was in North Central Arkansas, so within days he was moved into an apartment not far from the job, and getting to know his coworkers.

This meant that I had lost my “roommate” since the job was 150 miles from my home. But he still wandered back to Missouri, frequently, and I would occasionally wander to Arkansas (memory of my first trip: taking my dog AND my mother’s dog with me. Putting them in the guest bathroom while I unloaded a few things, only to learn later that the bathroom door was apparently locked when I shut it… so the dogs were locked in the bathroom. Luckily there was a locksmith nearby).

The more time we spent together, the more our friendship deepened… until we closed that chapter of our life and started the next chapter, being a couple.

It’s been over 12 years since he left Maine, and although we’ve had some rough patches in our lives (the illnesses and deaths of both of my parents caused a lot of strain on our relationship), we weather the storms quite well. He spoils me rotten, and makes me very happy!

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