*You can read Part 2 here.
We definitely had to meet. The Tour Guide and I talked at length about it. I really wanted to visit England. It’s a place I’d always wanted to go and he’d been to the states before. He’d told me in one of our many conversations that he had been to Orlando. He wasn’t crazy about it and didn’t care to go back there. Said he met more Brits there than he did Americans. In the end we decided on him coming here to visit me. If we still liked each other after the week was over I could always go to England later. It made him uncomfortable to think about me traveling that far alone as I’d never even flown before. Plus chivalry isn’t completely dead. He wanted to meet my family and put them at ease that he had only the best of intentions. Well, that and he wanted them all to know he wasn’t an axe-murderer. So we booked a flight.
When I told my older sister, Karen, and her husband, Thomas, that he was coming here for a visit they suggested I have a background check done. Not very romantic, but it seemed like practical advice. A girl can never be too careful, you know. I mentioned it to The Tour Guide and he said, “Sure, have one done. You really need to do that and I have nothing to hide.” In fact, he gave me his parents’ phone number, his sister’s phone number and his ex-wife’s phone number. Heck, he even gave me his National Insurance Number. “Do all the checking you like”, he said.
Having a background check done on someone from the UK isn’t quite the same as having one done here. It nearly takes an act of Parliament. My brother-in-law works in law enforcement, so I thought maybe he could help. He made a few calls but came up with a dead end and a suggestion to check with the International Police. Turns out the only way I could get a background check was to either hire a pricey private investigator or get The Tour Guide to send me a letter giving his permission for me to get a background check from the Metropolitan Police. That’s not terribly expensive. The next problem I ran into is this: you can’t call and speak to someone at the Metropolitan Police. They give information online about how to obtain a background check. Once The Tour Guide sent me permission I had to write a letter requesting the background check along with payment and his written permission and send it all to the Met Police. They perform the background check when they get around to it, not on any particular time-frame, and mail the results back. This could take a while and The Tour Guide’s flight was about a month away on a non-refundable ticket. Ugh!
I decided to forgo the background check. I trusted Paulie. His flight was scheduled for May 12, 2010. We were about to run into one more teeny tiny problem. Iceland’s Eyjafjalla volcano. We kept our fingers crossed that his flight wouldn’t be cancelled. Earlier in the week Heathrow Airport had been closed because of the ash. He boarded the plane and took the long way around. The flight that should have landed at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta at 5:25 p.m. finally arrived at around 8:20 p.m. And I was there to pick him up.
We were both so nervous. We’d prepared ourselves as best we could for all the possibilities. Even though we’d hit it off so well on the phone and online there was a very real possibility that we might not like each other so much in person. We made an agreement before he came that if that was the case we’d be honest about it; no stringing each other along.