Twenty Years Ago

Now this is a picture…


This picture was taken on the afternoon of Sunday, November 26, 1995. Erin and I had met, face to face, for the first time just two days previous. We had arranged to meet in Chicago, as a halfway point between Kitchener, where I lived, and Minneapolis, where Erin lived. We had hoped to meet up in the great hall at Chicago’s Union Station, but I couldn’t spy her, and she couldn’t spy me, so my friend Martin and I went down a level to the information desk and asked the attendant to page her.

I remember seeing her coming to the glass door, wearing a long coat, and we had a connection of recognition right there. We’d seen each other’s pictures, of course, but it was still a thrill to finally meet up in the flesh, as it were, to know that the pictures were true, and that this was real.

I described how I met Erin online and how our relationship developed in the summer of 1995 as Erin coped with a possible cancer diagnosis. We had fallen in love after having met on the Internet, in 1995, a time when only serial killers met up online. Our relationship was shocking enough that we were interviewed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Record a couple of years later, after we’d moved into our first apartment. Our pictures graced the front page of the Lifestyles section, with a beige computer between us symbolizing this bold new way for people to connect.

But we had met in Chicago as it was neutral ground. As impulsively as we might have been acting, we were moving cautiously. We’d built our relationship over a year of e-mails, like pen pals used to do in Victorian times. In Chicago, we attended a Doctor Who convention, to give us something to do for the weekend if we didn’t click.

But we clicked. The photographic evidence is above.

It is amazing how fast twenty years can pass.


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