Saturday, July 24, 2010
It's sort of a funny story. We met in a roleplaying game chatroom on AOL in 1998. Way long time ago in internet prehistory. I was a sophomore in high school, and just getting into gaming for the very first time. I had no books, no dice, no real conception of RPGs beyond "You make a character and tell a story with other people." M was my age too, but he was pretty insecure about being a teenager in a forum with a lot of adults, so he'd been pretending for awhile (he joined the game long before I did) that he was an adult. This is the opposite of the way things usually go on the internet, but roll with it. We met and hit it off as friends and writing buddies, and met online a few nights a week to play games. Whenever we were both online, we'd usually be instant messaging, just as friends. We wrote a lot of stories together, and because I was extraordinarily naive, it never crossed my mind that he might not be exactly who he said he was.
Well, this went on for about a year and a half, playing and being friends. I had other friends in the game as well, and one in particular was a lot more skeptical than I was. She confronted M on some inconsistencies in his story, and he finally came clean with all of us. I was kind of mad for awhile, and felt pretty stupid, but I didn't want to lose the friendship over it, so I forgave him after a short period of groveling. We became better friends when he could actually be honest with me about everything, and it didn't take long before a mutual milestone in our lives began coming up in conversation. We were both seniors in high school by now, and prom was approaching. Seeing as how both of us were introverted computer nerds who didn't date, we both had the same problem, no date for prom, and no painless way to find one. In high school, I was the sort of girl who got asked to homecoming on a dare (no, I did not accept), so it wasn't something I looked forward to. Slowly, we began to realize that we could be the solution to each other's problems, and actually have fun with it.
Convincing my parents to let me go to prom in Pennsylvania was probably the hardest part of the entire business. My parents weren't always comfortable with the amount of time and effort I put into my online life, and my mom referred to the people I knew online as my "imaginary friends." Letters, pictures, and phone calls were exchanged between our parents, until everyone was convinced that there were no axe-wielding serial killers on either side, and my mom insisted on coming with me. Not, you know, to prom, but on flying out with me. The plane tickets and the dress were my eighteenth birthday present, as well as the monetary culmination of four years of school dances that I hadn't gone to or spent any money on. It was a gorgeous dress, with matching necklace and headband and shoes. Oh yes, I had lovely sandals that matched the dress perfectly and were amazing. Something had to go wrong.
Just a couple of weeks before the trip, I fell in a little hole at my aunt and uncle's house and broke my ankle. It wasn't a horrible compound fracture or anything, but it caused a lot of problems. I was in a big ol' boot cast for six weeks, which meant I could only wear one of my beautiful sandals (thank god my dress was long!), and dancing was a little more difficult. I got to ride in a wheelchair and on a golf cart around the airport, which was actually kind of fun. The biggest problem was that it was my right ankle, and at that point M did not have a driver's license. He actually had to go out and get his driver's license before prom so we didn't have to get chauffeured around by one of our parents the whole weekend. That was a big challenge, but he managed it!
We actually met for the first time in the lobby of the hotel my mom and I were booked at. I gave him a teddy bear, he gave me a book, and we hugged. It was strange meeting in person, when we'd known each other so long already! I was a little worried we wouldn't be able to talk to each other face to face, but we did all right. Prom was really fun. We danced and drank punch and made subversive cheese sculptures from the rather unappetizing dinner they served. Afterwards, we came back to his house and looked up kissing on the internet, then tried it out. Also very fun! There was a lot of trial and error, but I can't say it wasn't exceedingly entertaining. The day after prom, we went out on another date, this time to Hershey for the chocolate factory tour. We got stuck in traffic on the highway for three hours. That is a good time to get to know what someone is really like. We played cards. By the end of the weekend, I was really sad to go home, not knowing if I'd ever see him again, but really wanting to.
Well, long story short, we made sure we saw each other again. It involved a lot of very long bus rides, some plane travel, and using up almost all of our school breaks on each other for four more years. And there was always the computer, every day, or the phone when we didn't have that. When we would go on trips, we bought phone cards so we could call each other wherever we were, just because it was so much a part of our days to talk to each other. We got engaged in 2002, when I was on campus for the summer. M got down on one knee in the parking lot after driving ten hours to see me. I said yes, we hugged and kissed, and the parakeet on my shoulder bit his nose. There was really never any question of if, but when was more of a problem. We wound up being engaged for two years and getting married in the summer of 2004, just a few weeks after I graduated. It was a heck of a party!
Wow, that really was a long story, wasn't it! I don't know that I've ever written it all out that way before. I've already written a paean to my wonderful husband once this year already, so I won't belabor the obvious. But I am very, very happy to have had these past six years with the person I love best, and I'm very happy that our family has expanded, and I look forward to many, many more years.