Web surfers ride wave of love

JUST MARRIED

Randi Schill And David Heinbuch

July 23, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Though Randi Schill and David Heinbuch can remember life before the Internet, they're so adept at surfing the Web they can't imagine being without it. Randi and David didn't meet online. But it was the Internet that brought them together. And it was the Internet that kept the lines of communication open after the couple's initial introduction.

Back in 1996, Randi and David were poor college students trying to stay in touch with friends across the country on a limited budget. That's where the Internet came in.

Though they didn't know each other, Randi and David often met their respective friends online at MuMu Land (http: / / mumu.talker.org).

FOR THE RECORD - In an article in the Arts & Society section July 23, it was incorrectly reported that Randi Schill and David Heinbuch had moved into their new home a few weeks before their wedding. They moved in following their honeymoon. The Sun regrets the error.

Randi, attending Denison University in Ohio, was staying in touch with friends attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. David, a Virginia Tech student, was home in Olney that autumn working as part of his computer science cooperative work experience.

He used the Internet to keep up with buddies at Tech as well, but his friends and Randi's friends didn't know each other. They were using a form of instant messaging at MuMu Land that's similar to a chat room and faster than regular e-mail. Such messaging allows people to hold conversations by typing messages on a screen and sending them instantaneously.

That December, while Randi was home in Cockeysville on holiday break, MuMu Land sponsored a gathering in the Baltimore-Washington area.

A group of 15 or so members gathered and spent two days visiting popular tourist sights. Randi -- known online as "Tuxie" because she used to work in a store that rented formal wear -- had David sized up right away. Though his online name was "Silly" (his childhood nickname), she could tell that wasn't a true description of him.

But he also wasn't a "computer nerd." He was cute and funny, and as they visited Fells Point with the rest of the group, she found herself enjoying their conversation.

David was intrigued by Randi. He hadn't planned to accompany the group to the Smithsonian museums in Washington the next day, but decided to after meeting her.

After the sightseeing was over, Randi and David continued their conversation online at MuMu Land. Randi asked David out on their first date, and together they celebrated New Year's Eve in 1996 watching fireworks at the Inner Harbor.

They had one more date before they returned to school. Thanks to MuMu Land, the distance between them wasn't insurmountable, they say.

"David became my best friend even though he was miles and miles away," Randi says. "I ended up talking to him more than I did people at school. It was good because [MuMu Land] was more immediate than letters and even e-mails."

Randi and David used MuMu Land to survive three more years of school (two for him and three for her) as well as a few summers where work schedules kept them from seeing much of one another.

David graduated in May 1998 and later that summer began working as a computer engineer in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.

In January 1999, near the end of Randi's holiday break, David took her out for a night of Inner Harbor entertainment before she returned to school. The couple went ice-skating at Rash Field, had dinner at Planet Hollywood and then sat outside in the winter chill "looking at the water for a really, really, really long time," Randi says.

That's when David proposed.

After her graduation that May, Randi took a position as a human resources administrator for EMDS Inc., a Gaithersburg company that manufactures circuit boards.

Randi, 22, and David, 24, married June 17 at Havenwood Presbyterian Church in Lutherville. Randi's father, the Rev. Harry J. Schill, performed the ceremony. A few weeks before their wedding, Randi and David moved into their new home in Olney.

The couple's dream for their future together has a decidedly modern twist on an old theme: "to live happily ever after," Randi says, "in our own personal place of cyberspace."

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