This is about Mark Jeffery and Briana Jade Lambert.
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Briana and I met on the 19th of September 1999, on DALnet IRC. Neither of us will forget that day. Over the next year and a half, we grew closer and closer. However I was married and she was, for various reasons, not willing to form a relationship. Over time, we formed a very strong bond that was not a conventional relationship. We talked every day over internet phone for hours and hours.. on the weekends as long as 14 hours a day.
As time went on, being online with Bree made me realize that my marriage was an empty, hollow shell. That my wife was one of those people that cannot have a kind word for anyone, least of all her husband, and her way of building herself up was to cut others down. She was mentally and physically abusive. I'm no 90lb weakling, so I never considered it before.. but Bree made me realize that something was seriously wrong with a mariage where the wife picked a fight and punched her husband just to releive *her* stress. Eventually I realized that it was either leave or have my soul dry up and wither. Bree, without ever trying to supplant her, had watered what was in danger of becoming a desert.
After I moved out of home, being with Bree became the centre of my world. I'd hurry home and don that headset, and eagerly wait for her to awaken and begin my "real" day. (being on opposite sides of the world is a real bitch!) Meanwhile, she was convinced that the relationship had no real future, and was getting more and more stressed. There were a couple of things she was hiding from me (that have no place here) that she was convinced would cause me to cast her out and never speak to her again.
Then came the fateful night of the 19th of May, 2001. Bree finally and tearfully confessed her secrets. And was totally knocked flat when I said "I only want to know one thing... will you marry me?" I'd known for months she was hiding something trivial from me and it was eating her up. What she saw as insurmontable, to me, was a non-issue. And now that the final barriers were gone, I was ready to propose.
After she got over the shock, we agreed to meet. She was very, VERY nervous... I was half way convinced she would not be there at the airport. Bad omens and all.. Four hours before she was to leave every piece of electronics she was to take on the plane (two ebook readers, a CD player and a palm) all crashed at the same time! Still, there she was, and WOW! such a beautiful woman!. And radiantly happy, making her even more beautiful. The pictures of our trip around Australia are available here. When it was time for her to come home, she was very ill, hving picked up a nasty bug while we were at my father's place in the Northern Territory. The airline penalties for changing her fare were so steep it was cheaper for me to escort her home rather than wait until she was well, so I flew home to Virginnia with her. After she got better, I got to meet her folks as well.
The last week of my stay in the US, Bree had an engagement in LA, so we flew over and spent that week together in a bittersweet farewell time. It was a very emotional time when we finally parted at LAX. We had set our wedding for summer of 2002, depending on the whims and regulations of the American immigration authorities. Yes, I was going to immigrate. I had tried to convince her that we would be better in Australia, where I already had a career and my children lived.. but she would do that only as a last resort. So INS loomed large in our plans.
Then came September 11th, 2001. I know this event has loomed so large in almost every American's lives.. and in truth, niether of us lost anyone in the attacks. But Bree lives just 3 miles from the Pentagon. I was online with her that day, having had another unsatisfactory argument regarding where we were going to live.. when the plane struck. I remember her describing the column of smoke rising into the air. All of a sudden, it didnt matter where we lived. If she wanted me to immigrate, that would be OK. Bree was deeply affected by the attacks. She does not have a very high sense of security at the best of times. We decided to move up my Christmas visit immediately so I could hold her and give her what secutity I could for those few weeks.
We arranged the flight in less than 48 hours and I was suddenly in my beloved's arms again! I could not, just could not, bear to let her go again. We did some research on the 'net (thank you, google!) and discovered that, while it is not by any means easy or "the done thing", you *can* get married first and then immigrate. So we did it. Right that week. Which left the unholy mess of trying to pack up my flat and sever my lease and utilities via remote control. Thank you, kids, for the sterling job you did of packing!
Also, you can't file for Ajustment of Status (AoS), which is what you need to do for immigration, without EVERY document in a lengthy list included in the package. One of which is a police records check from your home country. Whose issuing authority refused to fax. So it took almost 3 months to gather the documentation required. Eventually, we filed and settled back to wait the nearly three years we were told the processing would require.. but lo, the fairy godmother touched us with her wand, and my work permit was issued withing 2 weeks (instead of 3 months), and our AoS interview is set for November!
And that's it, to this time. Sorry this is such a long ramble.
When I met Mark, my life irrevocably changed. I had been hanging around online with some friends and met Mark quite by accident. The day we met. I stayed online until he finally shooed me to bed at 4 AM. When I shut down my computer that day, I KNEW that he was someone who would have a tremendous impact on my life. Time passed and we spoke more and more. I fell deeply in love with him, but he was married with 4 wonderful children and I wasn't about to effect that. As time passed, we spoke more and more, but I still held back.
I decided to make a break from what I thought was a relationship with no hope of ever being allowed to form on my 30th birthday. I encouraged him to date other people, never knowing how much that would hurt. When I admitted the full scope of my feelings for him, I was prepared to say goodbye and move on.
I have never been as surprpised as I was when he asked me to marry him. In a flood of tears and laughter, I agreed without any hesitation or second thought. Anyone that knows me will find this doubly shocking!
We arranged for me to fly over as soon as we could organize it, which ended up being about two and a half weeks later. As we solidified our online bond with no holds barred and no barriers between us, I really began to understand that this man is my soul. It was one thing to think it, yet another entirely to experience it.
I started my 24 hour journey on June 4, flying first to LA and then on to Melbourne. The flight wasn't as bad as I expected (amd I am NOT a comfy flier). I spent a lot of time writing in a journal which has since been misplaced :(, reading and even watched an in flight movie. The biggest pain of the trip was the fact that on a 17 hour flight we were fed ONCE plus a small plain HARD roll of bread.
When I got to Melbourne I wanted to rush right into Mark's arms but there was customs to get through, plus a girl I had met on the plane was pretty insecure and basically clinging to me, so I had to wait for her to sort her luggage problems out. Those momenst waiting when I KNEW that Mark was so close were absolute TORTURE!
We finally made it out and when I saw him, this inescapable feeling of peace stole over me. This man in his early forties was bouncing up and down like an excited child saying 'It's Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' and shyly offering me a rose and some chocolates(In finest MAN fashion he had already snacked on some of them!). I knew from that moment that I had found my one true love.
As Mark mentioned above, we spent a very full four weeks in Australia. I met his children, brother, mother and father and visited 4 of the Australian states and 2 territories. We drove almost 7500 miles and had an absolutely wonderful time!
Unfortunately, I managed to catch quite a nasty stomach illness which made mere movement agonizing and as Mark mentioned above, he was concerned enough to escort me home (what a gentleman!). He spent a month in America as well, getting to know my family and friends.
When September 11th happened, my whole perspective changed. It's really ironic that mark settled here because I was just starting to open up to the idea of moving there. My area of the world just didn't seem very safe anymore. We had a long talk about things and Mark decided to come over for an early visit instead of waiting for Christmas, both for financial reasons and to raise my spirits.
As he mentioned, we married rather impulsively when he was here. It was a HORRIBLE service, but what mattered was that we were together. What matters today is that I wake up and can look into his beautiful blue eyes and that we haven't wasted any more time spent apart.
Things aren't always easy. We've had a lot of learning and adjusting to do, especially in our home situation (we have two roommates as well), but we spend every day counting our blessings.
Who could have imagined that a chance meeting in an internet chatroom could have brought us a lifetime of happiness and the presence of our soulmate?
Well, here it is new years 2004, so we thought we'd bring everyone up to date on our story...
2003 was a year of steady progress and improvement. We started the year with no money and Mark doing work as a courier driver. This beat our nice car up (adding 30,000 miles in 6 months) and generally did not pay enough to do more than keep our noses above water. In January Mark got a job as computer technician with Custom Fit, which improved things a bit. CFI also do a lot of Audio Visual systems, custom auditorium and boardroom presentation systems and the like. These systems require customised programming, and the company had no in-house programming expertise... Well, Mark mentioned that he'd been a programmer for many years.. and before you know it, he had been packed off to school, and was the lead programmer of the company's budding, two-person programming department. With a pay rise. By the end of 2003 he was approaching the level of certification that would allow him to freelance as an independant programmer. The new year should bring lots of new opportunities.
One of our room mates departed, and this gave us a bit more breathing room in our tiny apartment.
Briana got a job with an e-publisher, Elloras's Cave. At first she was an unpaid proof reader, but since then she's gone rapidly from that to Junior editor, to editor, to one of the companies most senior editors, with the largest pool of authors there. Some of these people have also become close personal friends of ours. She really enjoys the work, and although the hours are long this job has allowed her to "break out" of her rut and broaden her horizons.
2003 was also the year of INS dramas. See our INS Page for details! Thankfully Mark is now a legal resident alien (as opposed to a legal visitor), and Mark's greencard is now on it's way to us!
All in all, it's been a year of growth and progress.More later folks!
It's been a while, so time for another update...
What can I say? more growth, more progress, better everything except money. Living in one of the five most expensive areas in the USA does tend to do Bad Things (tm) to your wallet. We moved out of our tiny apartment in Alexandria in April 2004 to a nice townhouse about 30 miles west of DC. The primary reason for moving was the deteriorating condition of our apartment. the final straw was a broken sprinkler pipe that flooded 3 floors of the building. Afterwards it was discoverred the FIRE SPRINKLER PIPES were made of ordinary plastic pipe. HELLO! doncha know plastic MELTS? And the neighbourhood had gone to hell. so we moved.
Then moved again 6 months later when our landlord decided to sell our townhouse! egads. But someone watched over us and we found another townhouse... two streets over in the same development! same floor plan, even.
Mark moved companies and now works for a much better outfit. Briana still works for Ellora's Cave, and loves it there. We've had major problems with cars and money but hey, that's life.
One of Marks daughters got married! Deborah Ellice Lambert is now Deborah Roberts. The young couple are doing fine, although we did not make it to the wedding.
Another son moved to London and we hope to see them here soon. His other son bought a house at the age of 21 and is doing fine. His other daughter hasnt spoken to us in a while, but is apparently doing just fine too.
All in all, a boring, not-much-happening life to report! but hey, thats better than too much drama, eh?
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