The Story of Us

Tom and I meeting was a once in a lifetime chance.

In January 2012, I packed up my life and moved to Florence, Italy. Not someone to ever follow the beaten path, I knew that a life abroad after graduating college was more for me than a 9-5 desk entry-level desk job. I ended up living in Florence for a year, having the time of my life, drinking my weight in Chianti and soaking up the Italian culture.

living in italy, expat in italy

On a random day in September during my time in Italy, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and an old friend popped up. From his post I could tell that he was living in Prague, one of my favorite cities in the world and a place that I was hoping to visit again before my adventure in Europe was over. Despite not having spoken to Matt for almost ten years, I messaged him on Facebook to see what he was up to there. We chatted on Facebook regularly and in November he asked me if I’d like to come to Prague see Swedish House Mafia as he had an extra ticket. I decided to take him up on his offer.

Meanwhile, back in July, Tom and his friends arrived in Belgium at Tomorrowland, the biggest house music festival in the world. They had gotten there late and weren’t able to find a big enough spot to pitch their tents, so they decided to take it upon themselves to move one already-pitched tent a bit in order to open up some room. But as they were doing that, a couple of American guys showed up and weren’t happy to see that their stuff was getting moved. So Tom and his friends apologized, offered the guys some beers, and they all ended up becoming good friends that weekend. And it just so happened that one of those American guys was Matt.

Matt and Tom kept in touch after Tomorrowland. You can probably guess what happened next… Matt invited Tom to Prague on the same weekend I would be there.

When I spoke with Matt before my arrival to Prague, all he told me was that a guy from London and his sister were coming to stay with him for the weekend and seeing SHM with us too. So on November 28th, when I finally arrived at Matt’s flat in Prague, I had no idea who these two people were. And I had no idea how much meeting them would change my life.

four of us

prague love

The four of us had the most incredible weekend together, filled with so much fun and laughter. But Tom and I, we just clicked. It was easy. And we both knew it was something special. I loved how funny, smart, and kind he was. And he loved how I spontaneously booked a trip to Paris to see Swedish House Mafia with him again for just one week later. During that weekend, we fell in love.

Tom and me 2two of us bw prague

I flew to Paris less than a week later to meet up with Tom and Kate to see Swedish House Mafia again. Between those two weekends, Tom and I Skyped almost every night and for hours. We ended up being in Paris together for less than 24 hours, but that little bit of time together was worth the money that it cost and the time it took to get us there. After saying a sad goodbye to Tom in the Paris train station, I flew from Paris back to Florence, and the next day, I reluctantly moved back to New York.

Two and a half weeks later, Tom came to visit.

We didn’t need any further confirmation that we were meant to be together, but our time in New York together just proved to us even more that we were. He met my family and friends, we celebrated New Years in Manhattan, and we had an amazing week together.

After that week, I decided I would move to London to be with Tom.

The plan was that in April I would fly to London for the maximum time I was allowed to stay for (6 months) as I waited for my Italian dual citizenship to be be approved, which would allow me to live and work in the UK legally for the rest of my life. So for 3 and a half months, Tom and I had a long-distance relationship as we both worked to save money and eagerly awaited April to come.

After what felt like years, it was finally time for me to say goodbye to my friends and family and to go to London. I balled my eyes out when I left my parents in the airport and cried as I sat waiting to board, but was so happy that Tom and I would finally get to be together.

I didn’t have a working phone when I arrived to London Heathrow, but Tom was waiting for me on the other side of customs. But little did I know that the second I started to speak to the immigration officer, our plans were about to be completely crushed.

The short story — after speaking to the immigration officer, I was detained, fingerprinted, had all of my stuff gone through very thoroughly, questioned on and off for about 5 hours, and was sent back to New York with a ban from the UK on my passport. More about that here.

Tom and I were crushed, but we knew there must be something that could be done. I could keep going with getting my Italian dual citizenship, but that was looking like it would take almost a year to actually get, and Tom and I just couldn’t wait that long. So we all got to researching, and Tom’s dad spoke to many immigration lawyers. And guess what they all said? That we should get married.

So six months and one day after Tom and I met, we were married in New York City with 15 of our family members. It was never the wedding I had imagined but it was the perfect day (especially considering we planned it in a month!) You can see the story of our wedding day here.

The Wedding Portraits

After we were married, I applied for my spouse visa. The application weighed about two kilos (almost 5 pounds) and was filled with Skype conversations, wedding cards, and all other proof that our relationship is real. For two people who’ve never felt that they needed to prove anything to anyone, it was very nerve-wracking to have to wait to see if our love was “real enough” for the UK border agency.

A little more than a week after I sent my application to England, I received everything back in a package… and when I flipped through the pages of my passport, I found… my approved visa!

spouse visa

Three days later, I was on a Virgin Atlantic plane to London.

When I got to border control, I was detained again, but just for a few minutes. When I was told I could go get my luggage, I was so happy!

And now, here I am living right outside of London with the love of my life.

I promise that we tell a shortened version when we get asked “how did you two meet?” 😉