I grew up in a small town in north-central Idaho, surrounded by forests and rivers and mountains and wheat fields and cattle pastures (and nary a potato field in sight, despite what you may have been led to believe). I graduated from high school in May 1991, promptly married my high-school boyfriend, and moved to southern Idaho to go to college.

I attended the College of Idaho, a small, private liberal arts college in Caldwell, Idaho, and I was extremely happy there. I majored in history with a minor in religion, and graduated summa cum laude in 1995. I had planned to go to graduate school and pursue first a master's degree then a doctorate in European history, but as we all know by now, life is what happens when you're making other plans ...

During this period of my life, my first marriage fell apart and I rebounded almost immediately into a very, very bad relationship, the only good thing about which was the birth of my daughter in September 1996. That relationship lasted a little over three years, and by the end of 1998 I was a single mother, twice-divorced at the ripe old age of 25.

The next couple of years I spent just maintaining and doing my best to raise my daughter while also working full-time. I wasn't especially unhappy, but I was far from happy and fulfilled. In April 2000 I got a large tax refund and was torn between spending it on fixing the gap between my front teeth that I have always hated (though some say it's "charming"), and buying a computer. I was leaning heavily on the side of fixing my teeth, but my friends and family were pressuring me to buy a computer, and I caved. A simple twist of fate ...

I began using the instant message program ICQ, and before long was chatting with people all around the world. On May 2, 2000, I struck up a conversation with a guy in Stockholm, Sweden, and I knew immediately that there was something special about him. To make a long story short, we soon began talking on the phone, then talking on the phone a couple of times a week, then talking on the phone for a few hours a day every day. On January 18, 2001, my daughter and I arrived at Arlanda airport outside Stockholm for what was supposed to be an extended visit to Olof, and what turned out to be the rest of our lives.

Now Olof and I are happily married, and we live in a big old house in a small town in northern Sweden (surrounded by forests and rivers and mountains and wheat fields and cattle pastures), just down the street from where he grew up. We have a houseful of kids and pets and love and contentment and security and happiness and all the things I once expected only to long for and never to have. Truly, my cup runneth over.