An African Boy and an American Girl

Morgan and Kassie

The afternoon that I met Morgan, I literally flipped out of my shoes.

It was my first day as a news intern in Durban, South Africa and I couldn’t have been more excited to be ‘out in the field’.  Eager to help in any way, I offered to carry the equipment bag as I shadowed the cameraman and reporter.  A bus full of Zimbabwean refugees suddenly began pulling away with its deportees and consequently, the cameraman took off running.  As I attempted to follow suit, I tripped and fell face-first on the pavement next to a puddle of pee.  Barefoot and turtle-like due to the bulging pack on my back, I turned to look over my shoulder and saw the cute reporter holding my shoes.  “Do you want these back?” he asked looking horrified and also clearly suppressing laughter.  Today, that reporter and I are celebrating our third anniversary.

If someone had told either of us early in 2008 (a few months before we met) that we would have a cross-continental relationship for over two years, we both probably would have thought that person was crazy.  When I went to South Africa for the first time in May 2008, my plan was to have a culturally diverse experience and to learn everything I possibly could about being a television journalist.  And I did.  I learned how to edit video; I learned at least a few key phrases in Zulu (I was living with a Zulu family at the time) and I traveled across sub-Saharan Africa.  I also fell in love with who I had assumed to be my first and only attempt at a ‘summer fling.’  What’s practical about dating someone on a different CONTINENT?

But we have and we did… ridiculously happily.  According to facebook, we sent 979 messages before Morgan got a non-work email address; we became experts in Skype (seriously, ask either of us about anything relating to Skype!) and between my UNC email address and my gmail account, the emails are probably in the thousands.  Despite only having each other via telecommunication, our relationship still thrived even when I lived in Cuba for five months, where cell phones are still considered a ‘relatively new thing’ and emails often take 15-20 minutes to load (if they load at all).  Packages, letters, emails, Skype and a few flights.

And also a small collection of pictures we’ve collected along the way.

Morgan impressed me with his guitar skills the summer that we met.

I flew back to South Africa and celebrated my 21st birthday in 2009.

Morgan visited the US and we roadtripped the east coast in 2010.

One of our many 'Skype dates.'

Major! The puppy we adopted when I moved to South Africa in November 2010.

We moved to Thailand in 2011 and love it.

Regardless of the time and geographical space between people, it’s my opinion that love can still be and ideally is the same.  You hope to find someone who complements you – that is all of the things that you’re not.  Morgan is far more patient than I’ll ever be.  He finds joy in the big and little things, many of which I never even notice if I’m not with him.  He can walk into a room and instantly befriend anyone… and I can often be a snob.  Best of all, he can bust a dance move anywhere – and for a white guy, he’s pretty good.

So was it worth the wait?  Undeniably yes.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “An African Boy and an American Girl

  1. Lourdes Martinez

    Congratulations to both of you! I am proud of your (both of you) maturity and wisdom, but most of all the your dedication to each other. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, but they are tears of joy and happiness for the love you share and the ability to overcome the many obstacles you have endured. Love knows no boundaries and you have shown that to be so true.
    Love,
    Mom

  2. Shirley Engroff

    So happy for your happiness! Although separation is very hard, traveling together may be equally difficult. You two are experts at both! One more test (when 2 become 3) is all that awaits you. But there is plenty of time for that. Enjoy your carefree time together building beautiful memories to last a lifetime.

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