You meet someone.
You fall in love.
You move in together.
You live happily ever after.
That's how it works, right?
At least that isn't how it works when the person you meet, the ONE you meet, is at first merely a collection of pixels and text characters, displayed on the tiny glass screen of a smartphone and filtered through the soulless algorithm of a social network.
I met Rhonda four years ago now, through a mutual friend in America, the type of random and unpredictable connection that we can all make these days, in the age of the information superhighway, as it bulldozes its way through the global village, joining us all up like history's largest, most dysfunctional family.
She is from Traverse City in Michigan, land of cherry festivals, great lakes, long, cold winters and apparently, fudge.
I am from North Devon in England, land of cider festivals, spectacular coastlines, short, wet winters, cream teas and yes, fudge too.
And slowly but surely, we fell in love.
We didn't mean to, we really were "just friends", but who said there has to be any logic involved, this is love we're talking about after all.
The realisation came last summer, in an almost single, revelatory moment, which left us both stunned and euphoric, yet able only to gaze at each other from over four thousand miles away, via the magic of Skype.
Until, that is, Rhonda decided she would make a giant leap of faith and fly all the way over here on holiday, so that we could finally meet in person.
Long story short:
We spent ten days together.
By the end of day one, we knew we were made for each other.
Day ten was the worst day ever.
She returned home and immediately began proceedings for her and Audrey, her six year old daughter, (she and I were great friends and we too spoke nearly every day) to leave everything they had ever known and completely relocate their lives so that we could all be together as a family.
That was last August.
If you haven't tried to do something like this yourselves, do not, I repeat DO NOT even think about attempting to do so, unless THE ONE you absolutely, definitely cannot live without is the other person involved.
Because it is a total nightmare.
The "fiancee" visa process was tortuous enough, just to allow them to come here for the sole purpose of Rhonda and I getting married.
That alone took months of teeth-grindingly slow and inept bureaucracy, thousands of pounds in application fees, (just for the visas it was £890 each) biometric readings by Homeland Security in America and half a rainforest's worth of paperwork from the UK Border Agency.
Then there was my income, which had to match the threshold set by the UKBA, to qualify me as a financial sponsor, and the fact that I had to provide the tenancy agreement for the two bedroom apartment I had to rent in advance, as well as confirmation of a wedding booking at the local registry office.
Then we waited.
Then we waited some more.
The date originally set for the wedding came and went.
And all the time we got more and more terrified that, after committing ourselves so completely, our dream would come crashing down around our ears at any moment.
Then, finally, at the end of October 2014, I watched them on video link, opening the envelope that would seal our future together.
And on November 20th, the exact day we had been due to get married, I met my family at Bristol airport and we drove back to our new home together.
That wasn't the end of it of course.
There was the wedding and the reception, (three months apart, but who wants to be conventional after a start like that, am I right?) finding Audrey a school, more fraught battling with the faceless bureaucrats for the "spouse" resident permit visas, (over £600 each and also subject to the same financial sponsorship requirements - nearly a problem when I took an unexpected pay cut for a few months) which we applied for at the start of April and only received two days ago, to a massive sigh of relief.
My family have now been together for nine months and I can honestly say that it already feels like forever.
We were helped enormously by friends and family on both sides of the Atlantic, all of whom are as delighted as we are with the outcome of our modern day fairytale romance, we even received an incredibly generous loan from another friend I've yet to actually meet, a fellow blogger, all the way over in South Africa.
Thank you all, we literally could not have done it without you.
So as I sit in the garden writing this, I feel like I should yet again pinch myself, just to convince myself that it wasn't a dream, the day America came to me.
For the full, unabridged, true romance story, the link is here - TrueRomantic2014