Mindi and Bev: A Love Story That Began Almost Three Decades Ago, Continues With a Fight to Be Together in the U.S.
We first met almost 28 years ago, when I was a college exchange student in London and Bev was on her young adult walk-about off that big island called Australia. We met on a month-long tour through Europe before my semester began. While atop the 7000-foot high Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Bev and I stumbled upon a cave on a fateful moonlit summer night. It was an idyllic evening with the moon shining into the cave. That was a life changing moment that would come to impact both of our lives in more ways than we ever imagined. We fell in love at that time and didn’t want our romance abroad to end.
Bev ditched her friends with whom she was going to continue traveling and extended her leave from work just to stay with me in London. It was devastating to experience that first departure when Bev had to return to Australia that winter. Each and every separation that would come thereafter was no easier.
After completing my semester in London, I returned to my college and family in New Jersey, with a heavy heart without Bev. We wrote long letters to each other every day, and had to wait around one week to receive each letter through the post. There was no Internet, no Skype, and no texting in existence for us at that time. We each had stacks of letters and cassette tapes of us talking to each other. We spent a fortune on phone bills as we were insistent on being able to at least talk to each other for an hour every other week.
A whole year went by before we were able to see each other again. Bev scrimped and saved enough to be able to come visit me in New Jersey a year later for three months. I was still a college student, working part-time, and we simply appreciated just being able to be together over those three months. I tried to get Bev the “white Christmas” she had always dreamed of by planning our Christmas in Boston. Doesn’t it always snow up there around Christmas? Apparently not; it rained, and that didn’t even matter in the end since we got to spend Christmas together. From Boston, we went on to see our nations’ capital for New Year’s. It did snow there, just a bit late for Christmas. Our last few weeks together were then spent in San Francisco and Hawaii. It was in Hawaii when we parted again for another devastating separation. Bev went back to her job in Australia, and I returned back to college life in NJ.
While we were very much in love, we weren’t able to work out a way for us to be together permanently. The letters and phone calls continued on for another several years. A point finally came when we had to just stop contact altogether, just to keep our then separate lives somewhat functional.
17 years passed by without any contact between us. We each had moved on and, in the process, we had lost track of each other. I was at work one Monday in late 2009 when I had to retrieve a personal email from my cell phone. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw a Facebook email from Bev in my inbox. I was not really a Facebook user at all; my profile on Facebook included a photo of a dog, and in fact, I put a profile on Facebook only because of my 13 year-old niece. As it turned out, Bev wasn’t a Facebook user either. She ventured on just to search for me. She wasn’t sure if she found the right person, but she last knew that I was living in San Francisco, and she knew I loved dogs (my profile photo). Her email message was somewhat encrypted with references that only I would recognize. She wanted to make sure she found the right one. She did. My heart pounded all day and I was completely unproductive at work. The emails started and then the phone calls. We were both able to really appreciate the technological upgrades that had taken place over the years. Many years had gone by, but the one thing that never left either one of us was that burning feeling inside for each other.
We started talking about planning our in person reunion. It was my turn to go to her country this time. When we tried to figure out the timing, I thought we should wait out the next seven months so we could celebrate our birthdays together for our first time, which are one day apart. My ulterior motive (not shared with Bev at the time) was that I really wanted to lose some weight before seeing the love of my life again for the first time after not seeing her for 23 years. Bev was exasperated and was not about to wait seven months for our reunion. I relented and agreed to three months. I was going to meet Bev in Sydney around Mardi Gras. I was lucky to be able to get a month off of work and go half way around the world to reunite with Bev after 23 years. The flight and getting through customs seemed to take forever. I finally got through when Bev, at a petite 5’1”, leaped over the barrier and ran up to me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a stretch limousine waiting, along with a chilled bottle of champagne inside the limo. That was the first time we saw each other; we had not used Skype during the months we were back in touch and we only exchanged a couple of current photos of each other. We spent two weeks in Australia and two weeks traveling around the South Island of New Zealand. We had to keep pinching each other to make sure this was all really happening.
Bev was able to take a leave of absence from her job and return to the U.S. with me. We were able to have a somewhat normal life as a couple in the U.S. for the next 15 months, but Bev then had to leave the country and return to Australia. We were apart again, working hard to find a way to get Bev back to our home in the U.S. We were able to get another visa for her to return five months later. While we could more easily set up our home in Australia together as Bev can sponsor me as her partner, my parents are getting older, while Bev’s parents are deceased, so it made sense for us to settle down in the U.S. It would be much better for us to be able to get legally married and for me to sponsor Bev for a green card as my spouse, than to rely on a temporary work visa. We do feel lucky that we are together, and we know we will be together for the rest of our lives, wherever that might be.
The point for us is that destiny is too strong to get in the way of us being together at this point, wherever we are in the world. We have learned that love has no borders and neither DOMA nor the U.S. government will come in between our love. We feel it is important to share our story, because we too have struggled since 2009 to find a way to be together and build a home in this country. Brick by brick we are dismantling discrimination by sharing our stories.