Between my junior and senior year of high school my mother married a man that was living in Finland. I moved to Lahti, Finland, with my mother in August of 2002 and spent one year there. During a weekend trip to Helsinki with one of my Finnish friends, I met my fiancé Salli. We met while my friend and I were waiting at the train station in Helsinki for the next train back to Lahti. We had quite a long wait and my friend was rather preoccupied talking with a woman he had just met and thus was not speaking in English. Out of sheer boredom I took a look around to see if there was anyone I could possibly strike up a conversation with. Low and behold I was greeted by a beautiful girl sitting next to me on the very same bench. I politely excused myself for interrupting the conversation she was having with another girl and asked her if she would keep me company and speak some English to me while I waited. She gladly accepted.
Within 3 weeks we were traveling between Helsinki and Lahti to spend time as much time as possible with one another. We dated up until the very day my residency permit expired. Even after I had returned home to the United States, we spoke with each other almost daily. Over the course of the next 2 years we spoke frequently, usually about how much we missed one another and how much we disliked whoever we were currently dating at the time in comparison to each other. Finally she came and visited in the spring of 04. As expected we got along wonderfully.
We spent the next 4 years trying to get on with life. We were still speaking regularly telling each other how much we missed what we had. As soon as she had finished her schooling, we began talking about the possibility that it could work between us now that we were older, independent and relatively responsibility-free. We were both very skeptical about the idea that we would find the same person we had left behind so long ago. She visited me in July of 2008 for a month. The trip went far better than either of us could ever have dreamt. Still skeptical, we planned another trip this time she would come for a stay just shy of 3 months. This visit would not include any little weekend getaways or expensive dinners. This would be like real life. Again, it went better than we could have imagined. We are both hopelessly in love. But still she had to go home.
Just before Christmas, I surprised her with the purchase of plane tickets to come and visit her in Helsinki. I thought it would be a good chance to re-meet her parents and her new friends. I also packed an engagement ring in my carry on. I proposed to her the day before New Year’s Eve and she said yes. We agreed that life in the U.S. would be much easier for both of us (read: me).