I'm not sure what brought me on to Chatroulette that night. Maybe a moment of loneliness. If you don't recall, Chatroulette was a website that everybody was talking about circa 2010. It paired you up randomly for webcam chats with people from all over the world. On the night in question, I logged on and sifted through a number of very strange people -- naked men, people in masks, teenagers until I finally found somebody who was relatively normal.
His name was Nick. He was 30 and lived in the United States. The fact that I lived in Australia was a non-issue as all I wanted to do that night was chat. We spent the next four hours talking about our lives, our families and our dreams.
Even though we'd exchanged contact information, I never expected to hear from him again. So I was surprised when he messaged me the next day . . . and the day after that.
In some ways we were very different. He was religious and came from a military family. His family fulfilled every stereotype I'd ever heard about the south. They were big drinkers, loved to hunt, had a flag on their front lawn and a deer head on their wall. I on the other hand was raised a liberal and came from a big city.
All of that didn't matter at the time. What we did have in common was our sense of humor and outlook on life. Over the next eight months we talked every day for at least two hours. Sometimes our conversations lasted over four hours. Everyone I told about our relationship couldn't believe that we could talk for so long, but we never ran out of things to say.
One night he told me he loved me. I was surprised to hear myself say it back to him. Over all of our conversations, I had slowly fallen in love with him. Now our Sykpe sessions were about when we would see each other in person.
We decided that I should make a trip to the US. I'm a freelancer so I didn't have a job holding me back. I booked my tickets and started to plan for my trip to the US.
When the time came, I realized just how much of a big deal this trip was. I was literally chasing a man all the way to the other side of the world. My flight schedule was insane. All up, I would spend 28 hours in planes or waiting at airports, just to get to the East Coast.
While I was on the plane I experienced a few different feelings. Exhaustion, stress, excitement and fear. I started to think, what if I didn't like him? I would be stuck there with him for two months!
My plane finally landed and I made my way through security. Nick was waiting for me with a single rose in his hand. I have to admit I was a bit startled. It's one thing to see someone on camera and quite another to see them in real life. On camera he looked youthful and thin. In reality, he had a lot of gray hair and a small pot belly.
His looks bothered me at first. But that went out the window when I arrived at his home. He carried my luggage indoors, put it down and pulled me into a kiss. Whatever doubts I had vanished.
The next two months were a whirlwind of emotions. We spent every minute he wasn't at work together. Some days we'd go swimming at the river or sightseeing. Others, we would spend the whole day in bed. All in all I would say it was the type of summer romance that I had always dreamed about.
Sure there were hiccups. His family was religious and expected us to go to church every week. John, his brother was ADD and drove me nuts. As did his niece and nephew who were adorable yet unruly.
In the beginning, I asked him what his middle name was. He told me he didn't have one. A letter arrived for him with a middle initial on the envelope. I thought that maybe his middle name was funny and decided to do a Google search to try and find out. What I found was much worse than a silly name -- a mugshot.
Nick came home and I confronted him about it. He told me it was for a DUI. He said he had stupidly driven drunk and was very sorry about it. He seemed so genuine that I was okay with this explanation.
Eventually my time in the US was coming to an end. Nick took a day off work and drove me 3 hours to the airport. When we were saying goodbye, we both had tears in our eyes. It felt as though my heart had been ripped out. He told me later that when I left, he lost it and started crying uncontrollably.
Coming back to Australia wasn't as hard as I anticipated. We fell back into our familiar routine of daily Skype calls. Sure I missed him, but I felt sure that I would see him again.
Two months later the phone calls stopped entirely. For five days I worried and wondered what was going on. I then found his work number online and called him. I asked him what was going on and if he was breaking up with me.
He quickly denied it and said someone at his job had quit. His boss had asked him to cover her shift and he was working 16 hour days. At first, I believed him. Then I started to get suspicious. Why would someone who used to spend hours online talking to me not have enough time to send me a quick text message?
This continued for the next few months. He would talk to me every few days and send me brief Facebook messages. I was getting frustrated with his lack of attention and he was getting annoyed at my lack of patience.
These feelings led to do something that changed the whole dynamic of our relationship. I Googled his full name and searched through pages and pages of results. The information I found shocked me and changed the way I felt about Nick.
His conviction was not for a DUI. It was for an armed robbery. Another tidbit I discovered was that he was previously married. When confronted about these issues, he said he was once a drug addict and he robbed the store in order to get cash for more drugs. He had kept this information and his marriage from me as he feared that I would think less of him.
I am a fairly forgiving person so this would not have bothered me if he had disclosed it at the beginning of our relationship. But the fact that he lied about things that clearly shaped his life made me lose trust in him.
Nick had promised me that he would come to Australia at the beginning of the year. I soon found out he didn't have a passport or any annual leave. In fact, he had no intention of visiting me.
This coupled with his lack of contact made me decide to end the relationship. I'll never know what his intentions were -- did he expect me to do all the work and move to the US or was he just stringing me along?
I broke up with him over the phone. He got angry and hung up on me. I haven't heard from him since. I have had to make peace with the fact that I will never know why he led me on and why he lost interest. I do not believe that he was working all the time. His boss's husband was concerned she was having an affair with a worker. Part of me thinks that there may be some truth to that.
Today, I'm in a relationship which makes me very happy. But that does not change how I feel about Nick. I loved him very much and we had some wonderful times together. But that will always be tainted by his lies and the false hope he fed me.