Quite a few of you that follow me and know me personally will recognize this story. For the rest of you I will share it.
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 1997. I was a single father of 2 young children, Robert was 10 and JoDee was 8. I did not go out to much or have much of a social life especially raising these 2 consumed most of my free time and I had just started a new job with Food Services of America. After they would go to bed at night I always had some free time on the computer. I had owned a computer less than 2 years at the time. AOL (America Online) was very popular back in the 90’s and chat rooms were kind of a thing. I found myself cruising some chat rooms for divorced people to visit with. I guess I just needed to talk to others who were in the same boat as myself. That Thanksgiving weekend I began to chat with a lady from Houston Texas. Her name was Christina. We chatted through instant message about half the night and seemed to really connect with one another. She also had 2 kids and we began sharing information about our lives. I suppose somewhere about 1 or 2 am we called it a night and wished each other well. The next day I woke up and tried to sign on to my computer to see if my new found friend was around. Sure enough as luck would have it the darn thing would not fire up. I tried the rest of the weekend but the computer was dead. I went on about my business and by the next week I was back up and running with another computer. I signed on to a slew of e-mails from my new lady friend with the familiar term most of you have heard, “ You’ve Got Mail”. She was pretty upset that I had not responded and I even think she wrote me off wondering if I would ever sign back on. Long story short we did manage to connect again and that started a long distance romance as we got to know each other through e-mail and instant message and long distance phone calls. By the middle of December we planned to meet in Denver over the Christmas and New Years when our kids were at their respective ex-spouses for the holidays. We met in the Denver airport and that is what started our personal relationship. We never seemed to mind that we lived 1300 miles apart although it would have been nice to live closer. We continued to talk daily by phone, by computer or whatever means we could. The long distance phone bills were horrendous for both of us for sure. (Yes, you young kids, we had to pay for every call 22 years ago). We saw each other only about every 6 to 8 months and this continued for 2 more years. She wanted to move to Rapid City and the opportunity finally arose in December of 1999 and I flew to Houston, we pack her things and moved her and her 2 kids to Rapid City. For 2 years I would wake up every morning to and e-mail that said “Happy Monday” (or whatever day it was). When she moved to Rapid City she got her own place but we always knew we would eventually marry and combine our families. That happened in June of 2001. Our relationship had survived the test of distance and time.
Since that time Chris and I have never really been apart for very long. I would occasionally travel with my job but it was never for more than a four or five days at the longest. Other than that we have always been together. So in December of 2018 when I announced to her that I was going on a 6 week or longer motorcycle trip around the country we find ourselves once again separated by distance and time. We talked about it a lot but her support for me and the Ridin On project is un-wavering and our love for each other has never been stronger. Out here on the road, I miss her dearly but I know our relationship is strong and we have been down this path before. As a bonus 22 years later their are more ways to communicate with each other than ever before and we seem to use it all to our advantage. She always knows where I am or where I am headed. She takes care of our dogs (all the kids have long since moved out) and she takes care of things at home.
I LOVE YOU CHRISTINA SHANNON and even though I miss you every mile of my journey, our souls and our hearts are forever connected. It could be a few more weeks until we see each other but please know you are with me every turn of the tire along the way. Your husband will be Ridin On back home soon!