Touring Prague right before we got married
After our wedding ceremony
Denis, Michael, Jason, Kim, Sasha & David
Denis & my bonus child, Lena; front row - Michael,
You Can't Make This Up
I was married the 1st time – young and stupidly enough - in 1991 (at the age of 22). Separated in 1992, divorced in 1993. Fourteen months of wedded bliss and he left me for another woman. Took me a long time to get back on my feet, but a few failed relationships later, I found myself on match.com in the year 2000. Why not, right? Met a few strange local ducks -- even a PhD. We dated a few times, and on Good Friday, I had a date (of sorts) to meet him and his mother at his church for Good Friday services. I got stood up -- at church of all places!! As I said, I’ve met a few strange ducks!
After staying for the service, I drove the rather long distance home in the rain – quite annoyed to say the least. I got on the internet to see if Dr. Wrong was on line – and he wasn’t. I left him a short, inquisitive message – with return receipt. Later that night, I noticed he did pick up my message, but no reply.
However, there was a new message from another man that left me a bit perplexed. At that time – and I don’t know if they still do it this way – match.com showed the distance of the person contacting you. This message – from a Denis – was some thousand kilometers. Huh? Intrigued by what I thought was an error – and more so by the good looking guy in the picture – I looked into it further. Turns out he was that far away – in Prague, Czech Republic as a matter of fact! I didn’t realize match.com was international!
I read his profile – which was hysterical. In his Ricky Ricardo English, he described himself and his interests – including the fact that he liked to swim under the ice. I found that VERY funny! OK – he has a sense of humor! Turns out it wasn’t such a joke – he’s from Siberia!! HA! Joke’s on me! He had moved to Prague in the past year and was looking for a relationship. We started corresponding.
Denis and I sent each other pictures and emails – we were in constant contact for a good week. And then, on the weekend, I didn't hear back from him. Sent him 1 or 2 messages, but didn’t want to seem pushy, so I backed off. Finally, some time the following week, I heard from him. We were evidently having internet problems – don’t forget, this was in the days of dial up!! All his messages that I missed finally started flooding through and mine to him. Based on what we wrote, we were obviously both missing connecting with each other! To make sure this didn’t happen again, I gave him my phone number. Could never figure out why he didn’t call – not until later.
So we met online in early April. Sometime between then and June, when I planned to visit him for the first time, we decided to marry! I knew everyone would think I was crazy. If anyone told me this story and their intentions, I’d think they were crazy too. But I just knew Denis was right for me. It was a well prayed about decision – I was very at peace with it. I believed everything he told me was absolutely true. I had no doubts about him. But I wasn’t about to tell anyone else my intentions! All my friends and family were giving me a REALLY hard time about taking a trip to Prague to meet someone I met online – I wasn’t about to have them ruin the whole trip by telling them I was getting married while I was there!
Mind you, I lived alone – it was easy to pull this off! I found a wedding dress online – and ordered it. It came the week before my trip. I only had time to have it shortened at the dry cleaners – didn’t have time to have it taken in. I got all my paperwork done on the States side so I could legally get married overseas. And let me tell you, if anyone tries to pass off this romantic, spontaneous wedding overseas scenario – it just doesn’t happen that way! There are a LOT of legal hoops to jump through to get married overseas! And I jumped through every one of them. Leaving work during lunch to run to Trenton in order to get certain documents and making it back to work unnoticed - it wasn’t easy nor the least bit romantic!
But finally the day came. My mom drove me and my luggage to the airport (my wedding gown was in my suitcase) and I went on my first trip overseas. That was the only part I was nervous about. I had never flown to a foreign country before and I had to change planes in Brussels. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to navigate the airport by myself. Once we made that 1st stop and I saw it was virtually fool-proof, my mind was finally at ease. In the morning, I’d be with my fiancé! Denis was nervous about me coming – he wanted a translator there with him. I told him that wasn’t necessary – I understood him. It was Ricky Ricardo English, but I understood!
I get to Prague – go through customs – get out the door, and there waiting for me is my Denis – flowers in hand! We embrace in a passionate kiss – the whole world melted away! And finally, we pull apart just far enough from each other for me to finally realize the real foundation of the entire joke – Denis did not speak a word of English!!! That little stinker was putting every e-mail through an on-line translator and transcribing before he sent them to me. No wonder he never called!!! And every e-mail I sent him - he’d do the same!! There was one point where we were IM’ing – I thought the delay in his responses was because of the dial-up or something!
OK, no English. I brought my Russian/English dictionary and my hand-held translator. He had his too – let’s go home!
But 1st there was a matter of the paperwork. We immediately took all my documents and all his documents to a local translator. We had to have all his Russian papers and all my English papers transcribed into Czech in order to get married there a week later. OK, not so romantic, no matter what country you do the red tape in. But after that, and a quick refreshment, we went back to his place. He placed a ring on my finger and we embraced once more! We continued to communicate through the translators, our dictionaries, Pictionary – and when we got real tired, we’d go on-line and use the translator he was using to communicate with me.
Fast forward to the following week, We were married by the magistrate in Prague. Denis picked the music that we would walk down the aisle to – the Beatles – 'Yesterday.' That still cracks me up!!! He didn’t know what the words were – he knew it was a nice soft tune and that’s what he was going for.
Per the rules in Prague, we had to have a translator for both Russian and English. Our translator was one and the same. She claimed she knew both languages, aside from the Czech language. Den had been living in Prague for a year and was then fluent, but they still insisted.
I still have no clue what I agreed to – the translator was horrible on the English end! But we married that day, had our reception in a castle after a walk and carriage ride through old Prague. There were seven of us at dinner – they were all talking in Czech and Russian – I just kept eating and drinking and soaking it all in.
When we got home, I shot my mom an email. One of her conditions of me going (I was 31 at the time, not like she could have stopped me) was that I’d e-mail every day and put a secret word in the e-mail just so she knew it was me and not “them” trying to throw her off, pretending to be me. I said OK (to humor her). The word was rhubarb. You make a silly request, you get silly cooperation. At any rate, I emailed her about all we did and saw that day, and at the end of the email I wrote – “got married today. Don’t supposed I slipped that by you. Rhubarb!"
Around 1 a.m. we got a phone call. She said she was at work when she got the email. She stared at the screen – and then printed it because she thought it would read differently. She said – “you what?!” Talked to her for a bit and then went back to bed.
Had the most amazing time in Prague with my new husband. But then reality hit. Denis could not leave the country on a tourist visa. He would have to get an immigration visa. That’s something we didn’t even think about. So off to the American Embassy we go. They explained to this ignoramus all we had to do – and all the paperwork involved. My heart sank. I was so sad I was leaving in a few days, and leaving without my husband! That was the most painful good-bye ever! I hated leaving him and I cried the whole way home. The poor flight attendants on those flights!! Every time they asked me if I wanted something, I burst into tears!
I had gone to Prague the last two weeks of June and returned to the States the 1st week in July. I figured, I’d get home, get the paperwork done and he’d be here soon. Not so easy – we’re talking immigration here!! They don’t make anything easy!!! I filed the paperwork and all the fees – and I found out it would take 6-18 months to get through Phase I! I was crushed. The entire time Den & I kept corresponding - just as regularly as we did before. I missed him so much!!
And then to face everyone at home – all the people I hadn’t told that I was going to get married. Oh was that fun! My parents picked me up from the airport upon my return. My dad was upset with me when he found out I got married, but when he saw me get off that plane as heartbroken as I was, he melted. It’s not like I denied him his chance to walk his only daughter down the aisle – I had 300 of my closest family & friends at my 1st wedding – I’d never go through all that nonsense again! He walked me down the aisle then – we had our father/daughter dance – this was the adult me making my own decision!
I knew nobody would understand if I told them beforehand, so why put up with the grief?! What’s done is done – everyone was just going to have to live with the fact that I married an alien! Yes – a Russian one at that! All you people who grew up with the cold war and propaganda – I married a Russian!!! Deal with your own issues – I have none with him!! And of course, they loved him once they met him.
And my boss – who was no saint of a human being himself – he even gave me the father talk before I left. I emailed my girlfriend at work before I came back so they all knew that I got married. Didn’t want to face that shock head on – I thought I’d let it sink in for them. Well they had a bridal shower of sorts waiting for me when I returned. Was very sweet! And as a wedding gift, my boss offered to finance my next ‘conjugal visit’ as he referred to it. He was a horse's hind end, but I took him up on it. I went back to Prague the end of September to see my honey!
Was not the best of trips – I was sick going there. They lost my luggage on the trip in and on the trip back. My wallet was stolen when I was there, and Den was sick by the time I left. BUT – divine guidance led us to a very important discovery the day before I returned! The documents I needed to file for an immigration visa – I had left copies the 1st time I was there – just in case he needed the paperwork! And I found out that the American Embassy in Prague could do in 4 hours what immigration in the US couldn’t do in 6-18 months!! MY HONEY WAS COMING HOME!!!!!!!! But again – not with me!
Den was sick – and needed to go for a physical as Phase II of this process. So he waited a week to get better. He got his physical, and on October 28, 2000, he was finally home with me in the US!
We had many wonderful experiences together – teaching him English and American ways, him getting his green card, his 1st job, American sites and traditions, him teaching me Russian ways – so many things!
In February of 2001, I found out I was pregnant. In November of 2001, our 1st son was born. In August of 2003, our second son was born. In March of 2005, our 3rd son was born. And in August of 2006, our daughter was born. In December of 2006, Den’s daughter from his 1st marriage – whom he hadn’t seen since she was 1, contacted him. The summer of 2007, she came for a visit. We had our 5 kids together with us for the 1st time! This summer of 2009, she is here again, on break from her freshman year of college in Siberia – for a visit with us once more. Teaching her English and American traditions and customs – brings me back to our early years!
Hard to believe we’ve been married for 9 years now. By the way, if anyone EVER told me they met someone online in a foreign country and was going to marry them after corresponding for 2 months, I’d think they were crazy! Even though I’ve been there!!! But somehow for us, it was just right!
Have there been miscommunications? Plenty! Life hasn’t always blown us kisses, but he’s the calming force I need when I just want to blow my stack! And right now, he’s back in Russia seeing both of his parents in the hospital – one of whom is dying. And I can’t be there with him. I’m home alone with the five kids until he returns in August. Still miss him as much as the day I had to leave him in Prague.
He’s a good man! Not perfect by any means, but neither am I! We seem to work well together, though. We're looking forward to many more adventures together. Next summer - we're taking all the kids to Russia for a visit! God help us!!!
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