The Breakup

So he had met someone.  Someone who wasn’t far away.  Someone who didn’t need to make a major move to be closer.  I could tell you I was ok with that, but the truth is that I wasn’t.  But what could I do?  Sure, we had spent months talking on the phone… but in person, well, we’d spent only two days.

He said he needed to be sure.

I guess I understood, but I was totally crushed.  I was already sure.  I knew I’d marry him.  I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.

Even so, the breakup did happen.  And I did move closer to where he was, but still a distance.  Two hours away to be exact.

I went about my life.  I transferred to university.  I met new people.  I even began dating someone.  I decided to move on, and I sort of did.

We’d spent those two days together in May 1997.  He broke off our long distance thing in June 1997.  I went on an epic road trip with my dad in July 1997, then moved out and on my own in August 1997.  I didn’t hear from future hubby again until April 1998.

I was in a relationship.  We’d been dating since about three weeks after I moved.  We had a lot of fun together, but future plans were not in the making.  It was an exclusive dating arrangement, but it wasn’t a forever thing and we both knew it.

So when my phone rang in April of 1998, and future hubby was on the line telling me he was an idiot and he missed me and all he ever thought about was me and blah, blah, blah… well, the dating relationship wasn’t hard to end.

He told me he knew he’d screwed up almost immediately after breaking things off with me.  It could have been a line, who knows… But we’re married now so I guess that doesn’t matter.

We talked for the month of April.  He had called my parents and asked for my new number.  My mom gave it to him because she knew what I knew… he was the one.

And in May 1998, we made plans to have a weekend together again.  This time it was three days.  I hopped on a train to meet him and we drove a few hours to our weekend getaway.  We had a great time, again.

And then I went back home.

We kept talking daily.  Phone bills were starting to grow huge, but at the end of June 1998, he called my workplace and announced he was moving the two hours to where I was.  And he asked if he could stay with me.  And he told me he’d be there in less than a week.

Chat rooms… letters… phone calls, and five days total of in person contact… And he moved in.  July 2, 1998, he asked me to marry him.

As you know, I said yes.

We got married two years later.  It was a long engagement per the request of my father.

The Weekend

So we met online.  And we talked on the phone for months.

And then our birthday weekend got closer.  I say “our” weekend because our birthdays are just one day apart.  It is a fact that made us both feel even closer.  That sounds silly now, but back then it seemed to mean something special.

We planned to stay the weekend together.  It wasn’t like some sort of booty call.  We just planned to hang out and have fun.  Neither of us discussed expectations of the other.  I’m not sure we really knew what to expect anyway.  We just wanted to meet in person, so we did.  He had to fly into a town that was about an hour away from where I lived.  He booked a hotel for us to stay at.  It was nice.

My parents were pretty cool about it.  My mom told my dad it was no different than me meeting a guy at a singles bar, and my dad decided to let me be my own person.  It was actually really relaxed of him.

I drove the hour to the next town and picked him up at the airport.  Up until then, we had only seen photos of each other.  Meeting in person was incredibly nerve-racking.

When he got off the plane (back in the days of actually being able to wait at the gate for someone), I was pretty speechless.  I just didn’t know how to act.  I’m such a dork that way.  But he cracked a joke, made me smile, and it was all good after that.

We hung out for two days.  Basically, we did the tourist thing.  It was fun.  And during that time I got to know a lot about my future husband.  Throwing yourself into a weekend with someone (in a hotel room) is a great way to get to know a person.  You are forced to see all the things that could otherwise take years to uncover.  Like the snoring… yeah.

The details of it all are probably pretty boring, but that weekend changed the path of my life.  I had successfully applied to a university across the country, already filled out everything I needed to transfer schools, and was on my way.  That was a little fact I never fully disclosed to my love.  After dropping him at the airport for his return home, I drove back to my house in tears.  I knew he was the person I would marry.  I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.

And I knew I was leaving.

Only, I didn’t want to leave.

By the time I got home, I was ready to make an announcement.  I opened the door, walked into the living room, and told my parents, “I’m not going away to school.”

My mom just looked at me and said, “I saw that coming.”

My dad asked me what it was that I would do instead.  I basically told him that I would figure it out.  I’d still go to school, just not where I had planned.

It took some time, but I did transfer schools.  Only, my transfer was to a school closer to future hubby.  That cross country move never took place.

Yep, I altered every plan I had for a boy.  And all the feminists are now permanently deleting me from their browsing history.  That’s ok.  If you are in that group, you’ll be happy to know that just before I made my move, he broke up with me.  He had met someone not so long distance.

But I decided to move anyway.  What the hell, ya know?  Life needed to go on, and I was ready to go out on my own.

I erased him from my mind for a while, but obviously he popped back in.

We Met Online

I met my husband on the Internet,

That sentence doesn’t have nearly the impact that it used to have.  Back when we met, it was new.  It was unusual.  In some circles, it was downright scandalous.

Nowadays, everyone is meeting online.

But I’m talking about January 1997.  This was back in the days of AOL chatrooms.  Who remembers that?  Don’t make me feel old, readers!

Yep, AOL chatrooms… “You’ve got mail.”

Usually the conversations in a chatroom would go something like this:

Me: Hello.
Cyber Guy: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good, you?
Cyber Guy: Ok.  A/S/L?

A/S/L was the basic question of identity back then.  It meant what is your age, sex, and location.

Me: 19/F/USA – you?

And that is when the usual cyber guy would suddenly say…

Cyber Guy: Wanna go to a private room?

A private room meant that no one else could see what you were typing.  Basically, it was the AOL version of a blind date.  So because it was the thing to do, I’d always say ok and off we’d go.  And usually those conversations lasted all of thirty seconds.  They went something like this:

Cyber Guy: So, what do you do?
Me: I’m in college.
Cyber Guy: Do you still live at home or in a dorm?
Me: At home.
Cyber Guy: What’s your bra size?

And that is when I left the chat.  It never failed.  Every chat went the same way, yet I kept going back trying to meet someone new and interesting.  And then it happened.

Like I said, January 1997.  It started as the same conversation as always.  And, like always, it ended up in a private chatroom.  Only this time, well, this time the guy never asked about my bra.  Instead, he asked what I was studying, if I also worked, where I grew up, if my parents were cool with me chatting online, if I had siblings, what music I liked, what movies I’d seen, was I glad high school was over, and on and on and on…

In other words, I had finally met someone online capable of an actual conversation that centered around getting to know me as a person.

I always joke that my husband won my heart by not asking about my boobs.  It’s fairly accurate.  The fact that he just wanted to talk was such a turn on to me.  We met online every day for weeks, going into a private chat to just share about life.  We talked about everything under the sun, but it was never at all inappropriate, distasteful, or disrespectful.  And because of that, when he asked for my phone number, I gladly gave it to him.

Our chatting left the world of AOL and became daily phone calls.  Sometimes those calls would last for hours.  The phone bills were astronomical.  Back then, we actually had to pay for long distance calls (my mom just started handing me the bill to pay rather than opening it herself).  For months we talked on the phone.  And we also started sending letters and pictures to each other.  No, not email.  Letters and actual pictures developed in a photo lab from film.  All sent via snail mail, my friends.  Yeah, I guess I’m dating myself with all that info.

We did that for quite a while.  And then we finally met in person in May 1997.  I’ll tell you about that another time.