I guess you could call us high-school sweethearts. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. We met at the age of 14 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our parents enjoyed the same career and un-traditional lifestyle; they traveled the world as teachers, taking jobs at international schools overseas. Needless to say before we even met each other Andrew and I had a lot in common. We both grew up outside our countries of nationality (I’m American, he’s Canadian) enjoying a very global childhood.
Andrew and I both attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur. I don’t remember what I thought when I first laid eyes on Andrew, but Andrew tells me he remembers very clearly what it was like seeing me for the first time. It was gym class, and I walked in as the new girl in high school. He said he thought I was cute, and liked that I was sporty and athletic. Girls and boys at that age can be quite different. For example I was tall and pretty confident, and Andrew was 3 inches shorter than I with braces. Nonetheless as soon as I got to know Andrew I knew he was special.
Our first date was our semi formal dance in 9th grade and from that night on we dated for two years. And that’s a long time… especially in high-school. But our young romance ended when at the end of my sophomore year of high-school my family and I moved back to Michigan.
Andrew went on to excel at our high-school in Kuala Lumpur (he became the president of his senior class, captain of his rugby team and starred in the high-school musical number; not to mention he grew several inches) and I went on to a new school to make new friends and adjust to life back in the States (let’s just say I got by, thanks to some amazing friends I made in Michigan).
We may have been separated by oceans and continents but we kept in touch as friends. And for better or for worse so did our parents! They were previously co-workers after all and still friends. So we still saw each other during summer vacations and spring breaks. Although we dated other people, I knew there was still something between us. I think he did too, although he won’t admit it.
When it came time to pick a university I knew I wanted to go to the University of Victoria. It was where a bunch of my former classmates from Malaysia were going, including Andrew. Our time at UVIC was great. I couldn’t have asked for a better university experience. I studied Political Science and Women’s Studies and became really involved in my campus radio station. Andrew studied Fine Arts and became involved in the student newspaper. And long story short, Andrew and I rekindled our flame.
I remember asking my mom once, “How do you know that you want to marry someone? How will I know who’s right for me?” And she simply replied, “You’ll just know.” And I did. I knew Andrew was the one for me.
Andrew proposed in December 2011. I said yes and we began planning a Summer 2013 wedding. We were forced to speed up the wedding planning when my Canadian work visa was set to expire in 6 months time (remember I’m American and he’s Canadian) and I was searching for ways to extend my stay in Canada. We met with a lawyer and were planning on applying for my Permanent Residence through a common-law application but the lawyer suggested the whole process and paperwork may be easier if we applied as a married couple.
The option of getting married on paper, without family around, was weird at first but then we realized it was just a piece of paper. So on February 19, 2012 we eloped with a few close friends to bare witness and colorful officiant named Rita who was kind enough to marry us with only a week’s notice.
And then on June 27, 2013 we were officially (officially) married. To us, this special ritual (white dress, big cake and drunken dancing, etc.) of celebrating our union publicly was still important. The beginning of our marriage and our two weddings weren’t exactly how I pictured getting hitched… but I have no regrets.