Ariel Humes, talking to a girlfriend one night when she was about 15, was asked if she wanted to get on a chat room to meet some new people. “I was about to go to bed, but I thought I would just get on for a minute and see what it was all about,” said the Wolcott native.
She began to chat with a young man from England. She liked his accent and they seemed to have a lot in common - they liked Marvel Comics and the same kind of video games. “I know it sounds cliché”, said Ariel, “...but we just clicked!”
That was 7-1/2 years ago, and much has happened with their relationship since then, including a pandemic which threatened to postpone their long planned wedding.
Ariel remembers that, after a few nights of using the chatroom, her new friend, Brandon Barnes, helped her set up a Skype account, so they were able to talk and see each other. She indicated that they both liked what they saw and heard. (They still use the Skype account when they are apart).
About a year and a half after they met, they started to get closer, and Brandon flew to the U.S. during the summer and was able to stay for only 30 days. He stayed with Ariel and her parents in Wolcott (near Chimney Bluffs), and then would come for a visit every year, sometimes staying for 90 days on a visa. But...he always had to go back.
She was able to visit him about 3 times over the years in his hometown of Nuneaton, England, but under her U.S. visa, she could stay up to 6 months.
About 4 years ago, Ariel and Brandon got engaged, they were then ages 19 & 20. The couple began, over that time, to try to plan for a wedding....a very difficult thing to accomplish internationally. It turned out not to be an easy task, considering had to coordinate how they would get one or the other of their families to fly to one or another country for the wedding. The plans, venue, accommodations. It was just impossible.
Add to that....a pandemic.
When the two finally set their date for April of this year, Ariel was to fly to England and a wedding would be held with Brandon’s family; then a second wedding in the U.S. with Ariel’s family. She arrived in England in March -- and the April wedding had to be postoned when the Coronavirus hit, and England was in lockdown.
“I remember that we were told to stay inside, and we were only allowed to go out once a day for groceries or a short walk for exercise. Even after the lockdown was winding down a little, weddings and gatherings of any kind were not allowed. If it was not essential, it did not happen.
Finally, in July, the government eased up enough for small gatherings. About 30 people could gather at once. “But our venue was small and only 15 people maximum were allowed there. We opted for about 10 people: his mother and father, his brother and two sisters, his grandmother, an aunt and uncle and a cousins, plus his best friend.”
Brandon and Ariel were married on July 8, 2020 at the Atherstone Red Lion Hotel near Nuneaton, which she described as lovely and with a staff that was very accommodating.
Three weeks ago, with passports, a marriage license, visas and health checks, they couple boarded a plane at Heathrow Airport in London and eventually arrived in Washington, DC. Everywhere along the way, they had to show their marriage license and visas and received numerous CDC health checkups and temperature taking.
When Ariel left the U.S., she had been working for 6 months at Newark Wayne Community Hospital in Newark in the food service department. With just a few months of employment under her belt, Ariel asked for time off (3 months) to fly to England to get married. She was given the leave and told her job would be held for her.
Little did she know when she left in March, that she would not be able to return until July. Not only did her supervisor Nicole Robbins, Senior Manager of Dining Services, hold her job for her, she offered to get her training for a job as a Diet Clerk, with more responsibility and more money.
“While I was gone, Nicole would check on me to see if I was Ok, and would ask me to send photos. She was very kind and a good friend,” said Ariel.
“One day, while I was beginning my new training, Nicole called me out to see something...and there were my fellow workers with a cake, welcoming me back.”
Her husband, Brandon, who is a Supervisor at KFC in England, will be looking for a job in the U.S when his paperwork is complete, and he is ly able to stay in the U.S (it may take up to 10 months). Nicole has indicated that if he needs to find a job, she would help him get something at the hospital also.
Ariel’s parents, Rick and Michelle Humes, were happy and excited for the couple. While Ariel was gone, they cared for her two dogs (Eleven and Tucker).
With all the time apart, travel, visa holdups and quarantine... Ariel recently announced, “It was worth it!”
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