I met my husband (who shall be called Mr Siili from this day forward) back in 1997 sometime. He was in Finland and I was in the US. We met face to face at the beginning of 1998 for 3 days and then in the summer I went to Finland for a month. He came back with me for a few weeks and visited again later that year. I stayed with him for the first 3 months of 1999 trying to find a job. No such luck. But I did go back in July of 1999 with a residence permit and I’ve been here ever since.
That’s the short of it. For the long and convoluted story, keep reading on.
We both played on an online text based role playing game (MUD) called Midnight Sun. A mutual online friend introduced us and we chatted some in the game. Some time just after New Year in 1998, Mr Siili was in the US visiting friends when they had a family emergency and he didn’t want to stay alone at their house. I told him to hop on a bus and come visit me and my then boyfriend, who also played the same game at one point.
After ~18 hours on a greyhound bus, Mr Siili hopped off the bus and was immediately enamoured with me. (Seriously! He wouldn’t stop looking staring at me his entire visit.) We spent 72 hours together and then he hopped on a bus back to where he came from and then onto a plane home to Finland.
After this brief meeting, Mr Siili and I started chatting in the game regularly. We chatted about anything and everything. There was even a few times where I stayed up all night chatting with him, only to have to head to work that next morning. I lived for chatting with this person. In fact, I was talking more to this guy halfway around the world than to the guy I was living with. I remember trying to figure out if this might be the beginning of love or if it was just an infatuation because someone was paying attention to me.
As 1998 progressed, things started getting worse with my then boyfriend. We argued more and had more issues about little things. I hated his drinking and especially his smoking cigarettes. But, as my then boyfriend said, he was doing this when I met him and I knew what I was getting into when we started dating, 4 years earlier. After one particularly bad episode of his drinking and doing some stuff that he shouldn’t have been doing. And then bringing said stuff into our apartment, I lost it. I freaked out on him, cried hysterically and just couldn’t handle it anymore. I see that as the last straw in our relationship, although it wasn’t officially over then. I decided I needed a break and I was going to go to Finland for a month long holiday.
My then boyfriend said that we could use this time as a ‘break’ and see how things were when I got back. My then boyfriend had also told me previously that if we ever broke up, there was no going back. We’d be done and over with, for good, permanently. I thought it was funny how things changed when it came down to it.
Late May of 1998 found me stepping onto Finnish soil for the first time. It was summer; the days were long, it was warm and Mr Siili and I had one month of no plans. We talked until 6am, slept until noon, left the apartment and wandered around town and did it all over again. I met his parents and most of his dad’s side of the family at a cousin’s confirmation party. I met some of his friends. We even stayed on an island for Juhannus (mid-summer) with one of the friends and his girlfriend. It was so light that we didn’t even need a flashlight. (That still amazes me to this day.) I just fell in love with Finland.
Half way through my trip, I called my then boyfriend up and told him that there was no way we’d be together when I got home. We were officially over. I honestly wasn’t too sad or heart broken over it. I had already been distancing myself for several months. Besides, I was in Finland with a great guy!
Mr Siili came back with me to the US for a couple of weeks after my visit in Finland. This was all planned before I even went there, but man oh man, was it awkward to be in the same apartment with my ex, a friend of his that was visiting from out of town and my current love. I ended up calling my dad one late afternoon in tears telling him I needed to move home now, today, this evening! I also had to call the coffee house I was working at and tell them that I was quitting, as of right then. No, I wouldn’t be in in the morning to do my shift. I felt so guilty about that (and still do to some extent), but if they had managed to survive without me for a month, they could continue to do without me.
Mr Siili paid for the U-haul that afternoon (and my dad paid him back when we got there). We packed my stuff into the U-haul that evening and night. Drove the 1.5 hours to my hometown in the middle of the night, which took more like 2.5 hours in a huge U-haul I wasn’t used to driving. We slept a few hours and turned around to take the U-haul back, picked up my car and the few last belongings I wanted and we left my ex, cat and apartment behind. I’ve never been back there.
After Mr Siili spent a couple of weeks with me in the US, he flew to visit our mutual online friend that introduced us. (Man, I was so jealous of that!) Mr Siili and I continued to chat in the game, write letters, some phone calls and anything else we could do to keep connected. I decided to go back to school to try and finish my AA-degree and then be ready to move to Finland after the New Year (1999). Mr Siili did come visit me in October. We saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and also dressed up for Halloween (I was a black cat and he the Grim Reaper, that smiled). I didn’t finish my AA-degree, stupid essays! But I did go back to Finland in Mid-January of 1999.
OMG! It was snowy and -28C outside!!! Mr Siili had lured me to Finland in the middle of summer and now this! What had I gotten myself into. I had never been anywhere this cold or with this much snow. Or at least not with the intention to stay there for a long period of time! Mr Siils and I played house for 3 months while I looked for a job to keep me in the country. I didn’t find a job, so when I had to go back to the US after my 3 months was up, I didn’t know when we’d see each other again.
I filled out forms to get a resident permit in Finland. I was told it would take 10-12 weeks to get a decision. So, I reserved plane tickets for 13 weeks. Week 8 came and I called, no decision yet. Week 9 came and I called again. Still nothing! The lady told me to not call again until week 11. I had to call the airline and let them know that I still didn’t know if or when I’d be flying out and would they still hold my tickets for me? (No airline would do that today.) I called again at 11 weeks, still no decision. Week 12 came and I went home on my lunch break and called once more. If no decision was made today, I’d have to cancel my reservation and re-plan things. When I got a hold of the lady, she said she still didn’t have a decision. I was crushed! I dialed up to the internet (yeah, way back then) and emailed Mr Siili. I told him that I had no news and that maybe he should try calling the embassy from his side to see if he could get something done. When I logged off the internet, our phone beeped saying we had 1 new message. I dialed it up and it was the lady from the embassy asking me to call her back. I called the lady back and she told me she hadn’t gone to the fax yet that morning and that my papers had arrived during the night. I HAD RECEIVED MY RESIDENCE PERMIT!!!! She would overnight my passport to me and I was ready to go.
July 21st I left my hometown in the US to start my new life in Finland. I arrived in Finland July 22, 1999 and I’ve been here ever since, 12 years later.
And the story still continues…