I met Jonathan Olley in Lyon, France when we both attended ASTA’s International Destination Expo (IDE), April 2008. I work for the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and Jonathan worked for Absolute Publishing Ltd (APL). IDE is a conference my company puts on every year in a different international city (www.asta.org/ide) to educate our travel agent members about a new destination to sell to their clients. I usually attend these events to run the public relations and media aspect of the show. ASTA hires APL to produce our magazine, ASTAnetwork, so our companies have been working together for a long time. Jonathan sells advertising in our magazine with APL and was in attendance at IDE in Lyon to meet new advertisers at the trade show. APL staff always attend ASTA conferences for this reason.
At ASTA conferences I am responsible for all media attending, and Jonathan counts as media. I worked as his contact during the conference and got to know him during this time. I was lucky enough to get to spend each night of the conference with him. There was always an evening event for the attendees and one night my boss took Jonathan and his colleague and I out to dinner where we were teased for flirting like teenagers. On the last day I had to take some attendees on a walking tour of Lyon as a staff liaison and invited Jonathan to join me for company. I had to bribe my boss for his phone number but it was worth it! We spent the whole day touring Lyon and finished the night by attending the closing ceremonies for the conference, went out for drinks with other ASTA employees and then spent the night together. He returned to London the next day, but after two full days of constant e-mail exchange we decided that he should come to Paris for my last day in Europe. On Saturday, April 19,2008, he met me in Paris and we spent the day touring the city and really getting to know each other more.
We both returned to our homes on April 20, 2008 (he to London and I to Virginia) where we didn’t spend a day out of communication. We used Skype to video chat daily, multiple e-mails back and forth daily as well as phone calls. He came to visit me in the US July 2008 for a week and he met my parents. Everyone got a long wonderfully.
Daily communication continued and we both had to attend THETRADESHOW, an industry event with our respective companies. This was in September of 2008 in Orlando. After the conference we flew to Boston for a week-long vacation. I have many family members in the New England and we arranged a family dinner where Jonathan was able to meet my grandmother and several aunts, uncles and cousins. We had a great time and each time we parted it got harder to say goodbye.
I went to visit Jonathan in London for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2008 to meet his family and friends and really just to be with him. We had decided months before this that if we were going through the hard-ship and difficulty of being apart, that we were committed to each-other and seeing the full potential our relationship had. After meeting his family and friends we knew our fates were sealed. Everyone got along, had a great time and there wasn’t anything to stop us from having a great and happy life together. Well, except the ocean between us.
In January of 2009 APL decided to send Jonathan at his request to the US to grow their US business and allow us to develop our relationship. Of course, we were over-joyed and with the help of APL, Jonathan obtained a B1 Business visa for 12 months and a contract with ASTA to use their office space to continue his work. In February of 2009, Jonathan moved in with me and we have been living together ever since. He was even invited to spend a weekend with mom’s entire family for a family reunion/memorial for my grandfather this past May in Massachusetts. I think meeting all 10 of my mom’s siblings and their families was pretty daunting, but he did great! From this point we’ve never looked back.
We got married on October 11, 2010 at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. It was a gorgeous day and we had a fabulous time! We are now in the process of getting Jonathan permanent resident status in the US and settling into our home.