5 Year Wedding Anniversary

Our Modern Day Love Story

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It all started with a face-time call. Wait, let me back up. How did that call even come to be you ask? Well, my friend at the time was dating Paul’s friend, who had just moved back to the UK. She told me he had recently ended a relationship and so had I. My friend and I had this very basic plan of traveling to England that summer to see the two boys. Because of this plan I added Paul on Facebook and Instagram but nothing ever happened. He never messaged me (rude) and I never messaged him (I think I liked a couple of his photos). Months later, when I was visiting my friend in San Antonio where she lived at the time (I lived in Austin), we decided to call the two since they were going to be together.

I called and Paul answers. Only Paul. My first reaction was to hang up. “I don’t know this person” I thought. But, Paul being the charming, cheeky lad that he is, called back. My friend yelled “answer it” and since I don’t do well with peer pressure, I did. The three of us talked for a good hour, give or take, but it was mainly Paul and I chatting. I was a hot mess, but luckily, he couldn’t see how red my face was.

If I remember correctly, it was a Sunday and I needed to drive back to Austin and get home. Paul and I hung up and I wasn’t sure what to think of it all or what would come from that one-hour conversation. I remember looking down at my phone on my ride home (sorry mom) and seeing a FB message pop that said, “Call to say goodnight?”. I’m not going to lie; my stomach was in knots and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was probably his accent that had me hooked. I got home, and we facetimed before I wend to bed.

From that day forward, Feb 10th to April 3rd, we talked every single day. There wasn’t a day that we didn’t facetime, even if it was for just 10 minutes. I would sit it my car on my lunch break, eating my lunch, facetiming Paul. When I got home from work (which was between midnight and 2am for him) I would call him, and we would talk for a bit. In the morning as I was getting ready for work, I’d call, and he would be on his lunch break or just thereafter. On the weekend, sometimes we sat on facetime for hours (I think our max was 8 hours straight). We talked about EVERYTHING. He watched me make stir-fry, brush my teeth, do the dishes, listen to music, get ready for work or bed (yup) and I watched him play video games, play the guitar, make chicken and rice, fall asleep and sing. I truly believe we got to know each other by connecting this way, over the internet, without actually meeting face to face.

I will never forget the moment in time when he was off with his mate indoor climbing and we hadn’t chatted much that day. We were both very busy and I remember him messaging me and saying something along the lines of “I have this feeling that is hard to explain; the feeling is that I miss you. But how do I miss someone that I have never met before?” It was modern day poetry and it made me feel all sorts of feelings. We even said those magical three words, “I love you”, before meeting (shocking).

The time came for Paul to pay Halee a visit. This was the real deal! We were actually going to meet IRL, WTF. Paul bought his ticket to Austin and planned to visit April 3-10; a whole week. I was so excited but so nervous. Then the day came for me to pick him up at the airport. I FLIPPED. I was a few mimosas deep and so nervous. “What if I don’t like him? What if he doesn’t like me?  So many thoughts were running through my mind and I was SO close to leaving the airport. But, there he was, coming down the escalator. The first thing I did after we hugged was use the restroom. I knew my face was as red as his Liverpool jersey and I needed to catch my breath. We had our first make-out sesh in the car and the rest is history. JK, but kind of.

Our first stop was Chipotle because I was obsessed in 2013 like the rest of the world. Then we headed back to my place since it was late (shout out to Torie & Clarissa!). The next 6 days were filled with all the touristy things I could think of to show him since he had never been to TX before. We went to Fredericksburg, ate Torchy’s Tacos, ate Salt Lick BBQ, almost played Chicken Shit Bingo but it was packed, got tattoos together (hey Laura), went to San Antonio, saw the Alamo, saw the Riverwalk, went to the Tower of Americas, and more. Then, he left, just like that. What next?

He called me when he landed back in UK and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I knew he loved me and I knew I loved him, but we were thousands of miles apart from each other. Side note: he used to always play/sing Deathcab’s Transatlanticism which was a real tear jerker (go listen to that song now). Some would say we didn’t really even know each other. And then not too long after he arrived back home from his ATX visit, he randomly asked me “What would you do if I asked you to marry me?”. I’m sorry, come again?! I was speechless for a few moments, and then said, “I would say “yeah, why not?”. #crazy

We have jumped through so many hurdles to be together, and the first one was getting married. We decided that he was going to fly back to TX, so we could get married (because it was way easier and way cheaper). He booked his flight and planned on staying a long weekend. Before that though, I had to acquire a marriage license for us and because he wasn’t there, I was doing this alone on his behalf. We had to get so many documents notarized and on the day of my appointment, the woman noticed that they had messed up Paul’s name. It said Paul Edwards Robert and his name is Paul Robert Edwards (the III to be precise – so British). I was about to freak out because this was already a stressful and exhausting situation. She must have been in a good mood or didn’t want to deal with me anymore because somehow everything got approved, even with that hiccup.

Paul flew back down on May 3rd, 2013 and stayed a few days. On May 4th, 2013 we ran off and got married, just the two of us, by a retired judge on her property that overlooked the Hill Country. Our marriage was a secret at the time, apart from a few friends, just because I didn’t want anyone passing judgement. I knew that what we did was risky, scary, and a little crazy but it was also real, right and the best decision I’ve ever made. I handed in my 2-week notice at my job and headed to England on May 29, 2013. I told my parents that we were engaged and that I was going to England to *maybe* go back to school. Both of those statements were false.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard the first few months, getting accustomed to a life where I wasn’t able to work, I didn’t have any friends or family near me and even though I lived in country where there was no language barrier, I felt like there was one. I had a tough time understanding some people and felt out of my comfort zone when I would go to the shop or somewhere by myself. I think that’s where I started relying on Paul a lot.

In our first home in Leeds (that I miss everyday), we had such a spacious kitchen with wood countertops and a skylight to make everything bright, even on the greyest days. While Paul was at work, I started playing around in the kitchen. I became obsessed with it. I would make breakfast, lunch and dinner most days with a side of baking. That’s when “The Ginger Snap” was born (another story for another time).

We lived in Leeds for over a year but then had to sell the house and move in with Paul’s mum in Bradford for a short period of time. HERE’S WHERE IT GETS JUICY. Before that happened, we flew to San Antonio for a friend’s wedding. We had submitted my temporary resident visa because I had already been in the UK for 6 months (actually more…shhhh). We had to submit all kinds of evidence proving our relationship and why I would only be there temporarily. When we were in San Antonio, we got the letter denying my temporary residence and we were shattered. Paul still had a contract to finish up in the UK so he had to go back. I remember taking him to the airport, dropping him off, crying (like I am about to now), saying goodbye – not knowing when we would see each other again. A month? 3 months? A year? Who knew. I probably cried in my room for a good three days.

Nearly a month went by and it was pretty shitty without him – not knowing when I would get to see him again. I was applying for jobs and trying to stay busy when he called me one day with this insane, elaborate plan to get me to him. He came up with this plan of flying me into Dublin (since Dublin isn’t part of the UK) and then flying from Dublin to Bradford City Airport. Bradford’s airport is so small and I’m not even sure if they have proper computers or phones. I was to fly in on a Sunday evening; the last flight of the day at 8pm or something. My first reaction was “NO, are you crazy?”. Surely, they’d catch me in any of the locations I was flying through, right? Long story short: after hearing him out and much thought and planning, I decided to do it. What did I have to lose? If they did notice, they would just send me back to the U.S, right?

We booked my flight. I landed in Dublin and that is when I started really freaking out. I thought “they” knew. There were drug dogs and police and guards walking around everywhere. Me being my paranoid self thought they were talking about me on their walkie-talkies. I finally got on my flight to Bradford and I was sweating profusely. We landed and made our way off the runway and into the building. I handed the gentleman at the counter my passport (which states I was denied temporary residence) and he looked at my picture and handed it back. NO STAMP. WHAT??? My heart was racing, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I ran and saw Paul waiting for me and jumped into his arms. Definitely *one* of the best days of my life.

We moved in with Paul’s mum in Bradford for a bit before finding our little flat in Manchester where we were for the next 8 or 9 months. During this whole time of us being married, we were filing for Paul to get his permanent resident visa for the U.S. We finally got the news when we were living in Manchester and that is when we made the move to San Antonio.

In San Antonio, we saved for about a year before buying our first home together. That is where I have all the wonderful memories of my small donut business, our close group of friends, BBQs, margaritas in the pool, Regina, our co-ed soccer team (another thing I miss everyday) and much more. We had no idea that we would visit San Francisco & Napa and fall in love. SPOILER ALERT: we did.

We visited May 26th, 2017 and arrived back home June 2nd. We called our relator and he came around the following Monday. We shared the news with him that we were moving to SF and we needed to sell our home. It went on the market and sold in a day. We officially became SF residents July 19th, 2017 (6 weeks later) with no jobs and no place to live.

Now, after all the crazy adventures we’ve been through together–to be together–we are celebrating 5 years of marriage, which started from that one innocent, awkward facetime call. 

Before I met Paul I was living a completely different life and never in a million years did I think my life would be the way it turned out. Never in a million years did I think I'd fall in love with someone over the internet, get secretly married and do all the things we've done. Before I met Paul I had just recently graduated from college, was teaching and not enjoying it, had some nasty habits that I kicked (I used to smoke cigarettes!), wasn't really taking care of my body or eating healthy, and so much more. After moving to the UK, I really felt like I found my passions and hobbies, ones that I never knew I had, or enhanced the ones I did have. My passion for baking, cooking, being in the kitchen, being outdoors, hiking, exploring, walking, photography, etc, flourished in England. 

For that I am thankful for my husband. He is the person who pushed me to pursue baking when we moved back to TX. He is the person who pushed me to start my own small business. He has always wanted me to be happy and to succeed. He has always been my number one fan. I am lucky to have him and to call him mine. 

Happy 5 years babe. If this was our first 5 years of marriage, I am anxious to see what happens in the next 5 years?! No matter what, we got this. 

Thanks for reading friends!

-Halee