Chapter 2 – Meanwhile, Halfway Around the World
Meanwhile, over in China, Winnie was going through her own divorce and deciding what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. For reasons all her own, she decided she wanted to marry a man living a long way from China – in the United States.
She worked with some friends to try the Internet route herself. She had a few hurdles I didn’t have. For one, she couldn’t read or write English, the language us American men expected to correspond in. She also didn’t have Internet access or even own a computer. Her route to Internet dating was working with a woman who acted as translator and matchmaker via Internet and international dating websites, for a price per hour of services rendered. AFF was the preferred choice for this person to use for matchmaking.
On August 15, 2002, I received a very short e-mail through AFF from a woman in Nanning City, China, calling herself “likerty.”
Hi there!I am from china,i read your frofile and enjoy it,well i like to be your friend.if you are interested,please drop me a line both at […snip…] and AFF.thank you! Have anice day! weifang.
—— Profile Attached ——-
I am a kind hearted, gentle and unclouded lady. I like reading,travel, music and sports.I’d like to spin the most touching and beautiful love story for you; I’d like to show you the most splendid passion; I’d like to promise you a eternal love….. I really desire happy family life.
It was a sweet contact, and I did respond quickly:
Thank you for you wonderful e-mail! I enjoyed reading your profile, and would be pleased to be your friend.
Can you tell me about yourself? What type of sports and music you enjoy? I know a little about China, I think your area of Nanning is a very pretty area?
I enjoy reading, travel, and music also. I exercise some, mostly jogging, but I also like to scuba dive and be in the water whenever I have the chance. I also enjoy working around my garden, photography, and doing craft projects. I work as a computer programmer, but before this I was in the US Navy working in electronics.
I look forward to hearing from you. My personal e-mail is […snip…].
What I didn’t know until much later was that within one day of posting her AFF ad she had received over 120 e-mails from men all over the world. She ignored most of those e-mails, scanned the AFF postings, and specifically selected me write to for reasons all her own… I also didn’t know, until much later, that at the time Winnie first started writing me she was paying a significant amount of her weekly salary for translation and e-mail services.
Our correspondence continued with an exchange of pictures and several e-mails each week over the next few months. Then on November 16, 2002, we had our first Yahoo! Instant Messenger (IM) chat (typing messages back and forth in real-time), with the assistance of a translator on Winnie’s side. By then, we were already discussing the prospect and implications of marriage.
We started holding weekly IM chat sessions, again with Winnie paying for the Internet time and translation services. After a few weeks of chatting she did obtain a web cam (I already had one), and from that time on we always used IM chat with web cam so we could see each other. Wine was also going to English-language classes, again paying for the classes herself. She never once even hinted at asking my helping to pay for any of her expenses.
At the time Winnie and I first started corresponding, I was working for a professional temps agency contracted on a project at the local shipyard. Then in late September the shipyard hired me in directly, with the downside being I would not be able to take any vacation time until my one-year anniversary hire date. in late December, Winnie and I began to discuss my coming to China to visit. I was very interested, and knew a visit was the next step in getting married. But I had to tell her I could not do a trip until the following October at the earliest.
I knew she didn’t like hearing this, but there was nothing I could do about it. For more than a week I didn’t hear from her. Then she started corresponding again, and told me she would wait for me to come visit. It was at that point I knew she was sincere about our relationship.