It was during the year 2002 that I emersed myself in that chatroom. My fascination turned into infatuation.
Let me add some perspective to all this. I began enduring a divorce, in my early thirties, about fifteen years before. With a BA in Bible, I was hardly qualified to do anythng besides church work. My world, my dreams, my confidence in the things I trusted most all came to a crashing halt. That's another story, but it, no doubt, is relevant. My concern was earning enough money to help support children I had sired and build (from the ground up) a life of my own. My mind's eye saw no other way to do that other than to return to college and qualify myself for another career. I chose "Home Economics" as my major, because it seemed simple enough. I could teach cooking and sewing long enough to get the kids launched off on their own. I began my teaching career in fall of 1995. By 2003, I was feeling fairly settled in my new career, and I was able to afford my first desktop computer. Internet was young, and I was so ready to start making good friends again.
Bear in mind that I spent the first twenty years of my life growing up during my father's US Air Force career during which we moved from Georgia, to Texas, to Maryland, to Alaska, to South Carolina, to Oklahoma, and to Georgia. Going places, making new friends with people from all over, moving after every few years was a way of life for me. During my first college career, I attended five colleges in four states.
Navigating my way though the internet, discovering and taking advantage of Yahoo Messenger, Connexion, Friendster, and etc., was welcomed recreational activity for me. Eventually, webcams were available. What a time to begin making new friends! In 2003, I met several individuals with whom I began making very satisfying and long lasting friendships. Though each of us has lived his own life working his own job in his own location, each of us has remained connected ever since. Several have been living in California. One has been living in Germany (although he is from the Philippines). Several have been living in the Philippines.
Getting from 2003 to my first trip to the Philippines in 2004 was a complicated ride in life. Maybe I'll say more about that later. Maybe I won't. Maybe I should just not even go there. Whatever, I'll just say a few more things for now. I didn't have a camera of my own to take with me, so I borrowed a small pocket camera -- which could only hold a few pictures (so I've not had many to share). Also, my passport allowed me to stay there for up to twenty-one days. I had planned to meet a half-dozen friends from different places and was brand new to traveling abroad, so every moment of the venture, though precious and exhilarating, was hectic.