On Aug. 21, 2014 I saw his friend request and private message on Facebook. “Hi. It’s Charlie. Remember me? We used to ride the bus together.”

I remembered him all right. Charlie and I grew up together in Sterling, N.Y. He used to pull my ponytail and try to tickle me on the bus from the time I was 5 and he was 7. Even through high school, he managed to annoy me on the late bus while I attempted to get a jump-start on my homework. Typically, as I spent my last hour in extracurricular activities, he was serving detention or goofing off in the halls.

On that fateful night in August, I sat at my computer, pondering whether to accept his friend request or not. I hadn’t given him a thought in 43 years, but now here he was, commenting about my upcoming trip out West and charming me with his references to Henry David Thoreau. He was a publisher; I, a writer and editor. I saw that he lived in north Idaho, 2,900 miles and three time zones away. Intrigued, I hit “accept” and sent a message. Within a week we were texting merrily away and talking on the phone until 2 a.m. Within a month, I was on my way out West.

Since then, we’ve flown across the country and back three times each, staying on each other’s turf for weeks — even months — at a time, in the name of romance. Because of my curious nature, I just had to find out if there were other couples out there as crazy as we are, reuniting many years after going their separate ways. Here are some of their stories:

Shawn Peterson & Jada Ginnett

“The sound of his voice makes my day.”

Shawn and Jada were both members of Lewiston High School’s Class of ’89, yet they hung out in different circles and barely knew one another. When Shawn left Maine, he ended up in Deltaville, Va. Jada went west to Bellingham, Wash.

In June 2014, posts regarding their upcoming 25th class reunion appeared on Shawn’s Facebook page. He sent a comment to another classmate, which Jada noticed and “liked.” Curious, Shawn looked her up in his yearbook.

“Although her name sounded familiar, I couldn’t remember her at all!” he admitted. He sent her a friend request. “Honestly, I thought she would just be another Facebook friend. I really had no expectation past that.”

When Shawn scanned Jada’s profile, however, he saw she was going through a divorce. He had recently gone through a divorce himself and wanted to be helpful so he sent Jada a private message of advice and support, inviting her to call him.

That call, as well as more messaging, led to more conversations. “We talked about everything. I knew almost immediately that I was attracted to her,” said Shawn. “When I told her I really liked a picture of her sitting on a rock in the mountains, Jada said she was no longer that girl and if that’s what I was looking for, I would be sadly disappointed. I was falling for her and knew that if we compared each other to pictures from our past, she, too, would be disappointed. I knew I just had to meet her.”

Because of work obligations, Shawn wasn’t able to attend their class reunion. However, he had time off on the 4th of July while Jada vacationed in Maine. The two agreed to meet at Moe’s Diner in Sabattus, halfway between their parents’ homes. Shawn’s drive through the night from Virginia was worth it when he was enthusiastically greeted in the parking lot with a big kiss from his former classmate. He recalled, “Only later did I learn that kiss was like an interview!”

The next four days were a whirlwind. Shawn even met some of Jada’s family members, including her two children. Without really putting much thought into the actual logistics, their couplehood began.

With a vow to keep communication honest and open, they divulged everything about their pasts so they could have a true sense of one another and prevent any surprises down the road.

“Because we set this groundwork, we trust each other completely,” Shawn said. “We don’t let things fester and become something that grows into a major issue. In a long-distance relationship, those kinds of things can be magnified tenfold.”

The time zones between them are just as big an obstacle as the miles, according to Jada. With scattered schedules and separate lives, the couple attempts to utilize all available technology to stay connected. “Worst-case scenario is we sometimes go several days without any quality contact, but for the most part we’re able to touch base every day. There have been times when we aren’t able to talk, and those are the worst,” said Jada. “It’s amazing how just the sound of his voice can make my whole day.”

For now, Jada and Shawn travel 3,240 miles across the country whenever possible, and have recently vacationed in Florida with their combined crew of four children, ages 8 to 16. What they both know for sure is that they have a strong desire to be together. They never part without having a plan in place for when they will see one another again.

Brian & Christine Ouellette Libbey

“He is my ocean.”

Brian Libbey and Christine Ouellette graduated from Edward Little High School in 1984, yet they only knew each other in passing. More than 30 years later, they found themselves commenting on the same posts on Facebook. “She flirted with me in a comment on someone else’s post on Feb. 13, 2015,” said Brian. “A mutual female Facebook friend, who also graduated with us, suggested that I send Christine a friend request ‘and see what happens’. Christine accepted the request on Valentine’s Day and we private messaged. Our romance took right off. I thought she was fun to communicate with, but most of all, she seemed intriguing.”

Christine added, “I found Brian to be funny, intelligent and curious. Oh yes, we’re both quirky, too. We knew early on we wanted to move forward in our relationship and fell in love through our many private messages, but I was in Westbrook, Maine, and Brian lives in Salt Lake City!”

In spite of only long-distance communication that included nightly phone calls lasting up to two hours (9 p.m. Mountain Standard Time for him and 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time for her), their love grew over the next six months. Christine noted that she feels their relationship is so strong now because they communicated so much in writing and spent quality time talking on the phone.

Brian came to Maine to meet Christine face to face with his adopted 8-year-old son, Sam, in August. “I hadn’t been looking for a relationship at all. Christine is actually my first serious romantic relationship and I’m 50 years old,” said Brian.

During their two weeks together here in Maine, everything felt natural. “It was strange yet completely comfortable to see Christine for the first time since 1984. She seemed a lot like I remembered her in high school — very warm, with a nice smile. Having similar childhoods and school experiences, and knowing a lot of the same people, it was like seeing an old friend. It was as if we’d known each other all along and there had been no 30-year gap.”

Brian proposed, and Christine moved to Salt Lake City this past December.

Christine had to admit her one challenge was leaving her mother, and the ocean. “It turns out that my mom is happy for me though, and now Brian and Sam are my ocean.”

Christine and Brian are amazed with how quickly she’s settled in. “Christine is so loving, caring, understanding, and patient with me and with Sam,” said Brian.

By the time this story is published, Christine and Brian will be newlyweds.

Scott & Colleen Vallee Clark

“Every day is a hoot.”

“In 1983 I had my sights on him, but he was only interested in heavy metal music, his BMX bike and being a Marine . . .” So begins the love story of Scott Clark and Colleen Vallee, who first met in 1975 over a game of marbles during recess at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn.

When the two friends moved on to sixth grade at Webster School, they joined the middle school band and sat across from one another, with Scott on drums and Colleen playing clarinet. This connection continued throughout their years at Edward Little High School.

“I considered him to be one of my favorite guy friends, but it wasn’t until senior year that I saw him in a different light,” said Colleen. She realized she liked Scott as more than a friend, but was afraid if she told him, it would ruin their fun relationship. Besides, with all his other interests, Scott didn’t seem to have time for girls.

“I asked him to walk down the aisle with me at graduation, but he was walking with someone else. He did ask me to prom though. It was the same day as All-State Band and I had tried out for the fourth time and finally made it, but I wanted to go to the prom with Scott more.”

After Scott joined the Marines, Colleen continued to pine for him. They got together occasionally as friends when he was home on leave, but Colleen still didn’t let on how she felt about him. In 1986, Scott married a girl from their neighborhood and left for his duty station in North Carolina. Meanwhile, Colleen attended University of Maine at Orono then moved to Bar Harbor. She never married. “I never met anyone who could hold a candle to Scott.”

For 26 years, she kept a crushed rose that Scott had picked up from the floor on graduation day and given to her, saying, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.” She kept the rose in a special box, envisioning the day she would show it to her true love as proof of how she felt about him. However, her mother came across the rose and, not knowing what it was, threw it away.

Thirty years after Colleen and Scott graduated, Colleen was listening to “Someone Like You” by Adele. Feeling nostalgic, she just had to look him up on Facebook. There he was, retired from the Marines, with two grown sons, and back in Maine. Most importantly, he was single again.

She and Scott arranged to see each other at the Dairy Joy in Auburn during a visit to her parents. “It was then that Scott finally realized we were more than friends,” Colleen said.

Shortly after that meeting, they began a whirlwind romance and married on May 26, 2013, the same day Colleen’s grandparents had married in 1934. “Our wedding song was “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses, which couldn’t have been more fitting for us. It’s so incredible to have him back in my life. We laugh over the silliest things just as if we were still kids. Every day is a hoot!” said Colleen.

Scott and Colleen have a home in Otisfield, but currently live in Auburn within a mile of both their families.

Randy & Sonna Sween Allen

“If it makes you happy, you have to do it.”

Sonna Sween and Randy Allen knew each other from the time they were little kids. Randy’s mother, Edna Allen, was Sonna’s kindergarten teacher. They attended Mt. Blue High School together and graduated in 1984, but the two classmates weren’t close.

Without the help of Facebook, Cupid intervened when they both attended their 20th high school reunion at Titcomb Mountain in 2004. Sonna, who resided in Glen Cove, N.Y., was in Maine for her stepsister’s baby shower, and went to the reunion to catch up with her classmates.

“I was in the middle of a divorce and had recently shared with my girlfriends that I had no intention of dating any time soon. I had had it with men and needed some time to clear my head and sort out my life. Little did I know that God had other plans.”

Whether it was a higher power or that imp with the bow and arrow, when Randy — who decided to go to the reunion “at the very last minute” — walked in and Sonna laid eyes on him, there was an immediate spark. After the party, they found themselves back at Sonna’s aunt’s house in Wilton, where they talked until 6 a.m. Sonna remembered.

“We got no sleep at all. I was completely exhausted at the baby shower the next day! I went to Randy’s place in Hampton, N.H., on my way home because there was no way I could drive all the way back to Long Island without some rest.”

The couple spent a long year apart, talking on the phone every day, before Randy made the move to Glen Cove.

“It didn’t take me long to know I couldn’t let her get away,” Randy said. “She was perfect for me. Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous, but she had all her ducks in a row.”

In 2007, Sonna and Randy married on the shore of Wilson Lake and have been inseparable ever since. They each have a daughter, now in their 20s. The couple plans to celebrate Randy’s upcoming 50th birthday with a trip to Cancun.

Karen Schneider is the editor of Northern Journeys, a publication that supports the arts. She has been a contributor to the Sun Journal since 1996. When she isn’t writing or editing, she’s cooking, chasing around after her seven grandchildren, or playing the ukulele. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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