CATEGORIES Hot TopicAs many a diehard romantic will tell you, time and distance are no obstacle when it comes to true love. (An exotic vacation and a handsome stranger don't hurt, either.) In 'Letters to Juliet,' Amanda Seyfried stars as an American traveler who ventures to Italy and finds herself in Verona, hometown of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. While there, she gets involved with a team of volunteers who answer letters from lovelorn people around the globe, appealing to Juliet for advice and answers.
But the movies aren't the only place to find the love of your life. We asked our readers to share their own personal stories of love, loss and reconnection. The stories we got prove that Hollywood endings aren't just for the silver screen. As many a diehard romantic will tell you, time and distance are no obstacle when it comes to true love. (An exotic vacation and a handsome stranger don't hurt, either.)
In 'Letters to Juliet,' Amanda Seyfried stars as Sophie, an American who travels to Verona, Italy, hometown of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. While there, she gets involved with a team of volunteers who answer letters from lovelorn people around the globe, appealing to Juliet for advice and answers. After responding to a 50-year-old letter from a woman named Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), Sophie is surprised when Claire shows up in Italy seeking her long-lost fiancé -- and as a bonus, she's brought her easy-on-the-eyes grandson (Christopher Egan) along for the ride.
The movies aren't the only place to find the love of your life. We asked our readers to share their own personal stories of love, loss and reconnection. The stories we got prove that Hollywood endings aren't just for the silver screen.
Re-Connecting With a Long-Lost Love -- Julia Clark
I once met a boy at summer camp. I was at the girl's camp, and he was at the boy's camp in the Berkshires. Our eyes sought each others' from the very first day. My friends thought he was weird and maybe even ugly. His slight overbite and carrot-red hair did not render him the heartthrob of our posse.
Before camp ended, there was a social -- the kind of event where boys and girls line up on opposite sides of the room and try hard to look cool. My friends and I decided to dance together when I noticed him watching me not that far away.
That night, over a hastily offered cup of orange punch, this boy and I exchanged addresses. He asked me to write him.
We wrote letters to each other about everything. I imagined through those years that my friend Alfred was shy and retiring. Intellectual and unworldly. Slightly ugly outside and beautiful inside.
We exchanged pictures. He sent me a class photo every year, the kind parents buy but are always too embarrassing to send to anyone. I had a collection of pictures of him in this format on my dresser -- Alfred through the years.
When we turned 18, we knew we would date. He was at Yale, and I was at Smith. We hadn't seen each other in person throughout our letter writing.
One autumn afternoon, I got off the Peter Pan bus in New Haven. His pictures didn't prepare me for the fact that my previously gawky friend was now gorgeous. I almost fainted!
Over the next year, we saw each other often and fell in love. He was my first lover, he said, because of all those letters.
Sadly, though, something happened. His letters stopped. My best friend called to ask why. He wouldn't tell her. He said nothing.
Six years later on Fifth Avenue, we saw each other again. We were both walking alone and towards each other. He explained his mother hadn't wanted him to get that serious over anyone. Especially not with his pen pal.
We haven't been apart again since.
Transatlantic Romance -- Gabriella
I met D. traveling in Scotland in 2002 on an organized bus tour of the Island of Skye. He kept looking at the back of the bus where I was sitting and caught me as I was looking at him, too. When we got off the bus, he tried to walk near me, trying to find the courage to talk to me, until I finally took the initiative. From that moment on, we were inseparable for the whole trip, trying as much as possible to stay behind the group to have some moments alone.
But there was a problem -- I had a boyfriend waiting for me back home. I am from Italy and D. is from the U.S. I thought it simply couldn't work between us. There was a kiss and many sighs, but nothing more. After a wonderful week, we parted ways. We tried to stay in touch, but I had my life in Italy and I just wanted to go on. I thought that we were just too far, that I should stick with what I already had, and decided to cut off all communications with this fascinating man from so far away.
Years passed by and life went on, but four years later, I decided to Google his name. I found his Web site with hundreds of pictures of Europe. He had come to Italy, to my hometown, and I wondered if he had looked for me and what would have happened if he had found me. I decided to write him an e-mail just to see how he was doing, assuming he probably was married with kids by then.
He wasn't, and he was also very excited to hear from me again. We started talking almost every day on the Internet, and then seeing each other through a webcam. He still had those beautiful, fascinating blue eyes. He still sent shivers down my spine. He was going to go to Germany in a few months and he wanted to meet me. I still had a boyfriend, and I knew that seeing him meant cheating. I said I wouldn't go to Germany to meet him.
He came to Tuscany instead. We met, we kissed. He asked me to go back with him, never to leave him again. I went home, I left my boyfriend and booked a ticket for the United States. Two years later, we got married and now we have a wonderful son, and I still can't believe I almost let the love of my life get away from me forever.
With Love, Timing Can be Everything -- Cathleen Shaffer
I was a young mother with two kids and two jobs, stuck in a bad marriage to a lazy man. One of my jobs was working at Christmastime for a large department store. I met a lot of nice people at that store, and one man in particular used to make my day. I swear he was funny enough to do stand-up comedy. He also worked two jobs and had two kids. He had a definite "glass is half-full" attitude and just seemed to roll with whatever life threw his way. I admired and envied that attitude and wished I could adopt that quality as my own.
We worked many of the same hours and evenings together, so we became fast friends. I remember thinking once when we were talking about how we both had married too young, had kids too soon and if things would have been different if we would have married each other. I quickly put that thought out of my mind and reminded myself that visions of what could have been were bad for the soul.
Then one day he said it. He said, "I don't know if it's because of our similarities or our differences, but I have fallen in love with you." I was in tears, because I felt the same way but knew this had to be the end of the road for us. No, we did not end up having the big illicit affair that we both secretly wanted and I used to dream about. We both had families, and we took the very hard high road and after the Christmas season ended, so did our contact.
Fourteen years later, I had gotten divorced and accomplished my dream of working at a local newspaper. One afternoon, I had to go take a picture of a new business in town for our business section. I walked in and asked for the owner, he came out with a very familiar big grin. There he was, the love of my new life. We have been laughing together for 25 years.
Summer Lovin' -- Heather McGee
I was 16 and living in a beach town for the summer. On Labor Day weekend, a good friend set me up on a blind date. She described him as tall, lanky and 18. Sold! After many hours of primping and prepping, I drove to meet him. The minute I laid eyes on those blue eyes, they went through me like a shock wave. I was smitten at first sight. We had a lovely date walking the boardwalk and talking. He was from the big city, and I was enamored. This was certainly not my first crush, but I knew it was different.
Sadly, the next day was Labor Day, and his ride was headed back. I assumed that much like every other summer fling, I would never see him again. After all, I was in high school, he was in college; we lived 150 miles apart. After watching a breathtaking sunrise, we exchanged information and then said our farewells.
I started my senior year of high school still daydreaming of our one date, replaying every detail, every word. A few days later, I came home to find he had actually sent me a letter. I tore it open as fast as I could and poured over every meaningless word, searching for meaning. It was a typical "thanks for the fun evening" kind of letter, but it meant the world to me. I wrote back, and a few days later, I received another letter with a mix tape. This was all it took -- I was hooked.
We spent two months phoning each other. We chatted for hours at a time. He promised we would get married and live in an electric-blue house. He was perfect -- that is, until he said he was moving far away. My world was crushed. The last call I had with him was a blur of anger and pain.
I eventually recovered and dated another boy the next summer. But always in the back of my mind I held a torch, which over the years got dimmer and dimmer. Life moved forward, many boys came and went. I even fell in real love a time or two. I would occasionally search the Internet for my summer love, with no result.
When I finally found him on Facebook, I squealed like a teenager. He accepted my friend request and wrote a short e-mail in response. It took me hours to write him back. My heart raced as I hit send. I checked his profile, and he was single, as was I.
We e-mailed, which led to instant messaging and then phone calls. We set a date to meet in person in his town. All my questions melted away when he walked to my car to greet me, and I felt the spark as he hugged me. The torch I held for 17 years flared up into an inferno. That day, we spent the best day of my life together. I didn't want to leave, I was not going to let him go again.
It has been a year and four months since that day. We are together as a couple. We have discussed marriage, and he plans to move in with me in a few months. He has been everything I have wanted. We both deny that fate tore us apart to live the lives we were meant to, only to reunite us when the time was right. I do know, however, that I will spend the next 17 years and beyond with him. I know that this gray house is just as good as the electric-blue one we once dreamed of -- just more mature.
A Lost Love Found -- Melissa Vacca
I was 15 years old when my mother got me a job as a bagger at our local grocery store. I was a shy teenager and had never had a boyfriend. Sam was the first guy to notice me. On my first day of work, I was assigned as the bagger to his register -- and by the end of my shift, I was in love. Sam was two years older than me, and when it came to teenagers, he ruled the pack. He went to a different high school than I and had different friends, and it was such an exciting thing for me to look forward to.
We would spend our shift flirting with each other, he would draw me little pictures; and then eventually, he asked me out on a date. It was the weekend of my 16th birthday, and we went to a football game and then back to his house to watch a movie. I was floating on air. He was my first experience with love. But as teenage boys tend to do, Sam broke my heart. I was just his flavor of the month. Sam had one of the other cashiers at work break up with me for him, and he moved on to another girl. So my first love quickly turned into my first heartbreak.
My short relationship with Sam gave me a confidence boost, and I started dating other guys, including his best friend and his twin brother. I may have been a naive teenager, but I picked up early on how to make a guy jealous. Eventually, during my senior year, all my tactics paid off and Sam and I got back together. From then on, it was smooth sailing. We had wonderful times ... until college came along. When I graduated, I received a scholarship to an out-of-town school; Sam was attending the local community college. I was positive that we could make a long-distance relationship work, but Sam did not feel the same way, and once again he broke my heart.
So I went off to college and wrote him once, but never received a response. I assumed he moved on and what we had just wasn't meant to be, and I, too, moved on. Four years later, I graduated and moved back in with my parents. I didn't have a real job yet, so I got a job as a waitress in a new bar that was opening near my home.
One of the very first nights we were open, I was at the computer entering an order when I turned around and bumped right into Sam. He was wearing a leather coat and smelled really good. BAM, I was sucked back in! Of course I wasn't going to let him know that, and I rebuffed his first few attempts at getting together. It wasn't until a week or so later when I went to my car after work to discover a red rose and a note on my windshield. Sam had written me a long letter telling me how he regretted everything he had done to wrong me in our past, and that he never wrote me back in college because he didn't want me dwelling on him. He told me he understood if I didn't want to ever see him -- but if I did, to meet him after work.
It was then I thought about love being meant to be. He was the first boy I ever fell in love with. No one else made me feel like he did. So I decided to go ahead and take the risk. I made the right decision. He never broke my heart again.
I married Sam two years after that last meeting. Seven years and two children later, we are still going strong.