February 6, 2011

Love Story-Episodes I-III: The Prequels

Happy Weekend Two Readers,

Valentine's Day is coming up fast. I have some cutesy stuff planned to do in my classroom which I'll share later but what I really look forward to is doing something special with my sweetie.

I wanted to spend some time over the next few days sharing a little bit about my and my husband's love story. I hope any fellow romantics out there will find some commonalities and inspiration. I also hope those of you who continue to follow get a little bit better sense of where I'm coming from.

I do warn that this may get extremely sappy. I'll try to undercut the sappy moments with sarcasm and juvenile humor for those of you who hate this kind of stuff. Oddly enough, I am very much against sappiness myself and really want to convey a romantic story without going to a place where both you and I want to throw up.

Today I present:

 Episodes 1-3: The Prequels (yeah, that's a Star Wars reference)-

Let's rewind back a little over three years ago. I had finished my Masters program and gotten my first teaching job. I was extremely optimistic and excited about starting this new chapter in my life. I was also slightly terrified for I was, in my mind entering the "real world" and truly beginning my adult life. At this point in my life, I was still very much focused on finishing my education and doing well in my chosen profession.

My love life at this point was virtually nonexistent. Okay, to be honest, it was completely nonexistent. I was not terribly optimistic or excited about this aspect of my life because I had never experienced love nor had I been in a long term relationship. I had managed to get through college without finding anyone who I had any inkling of interest for, other than a couple minor crushes and dating some very nice guys who just weren't "the one."

By the time I graduated and started my Masters program, I was pretty much "over it" as they say. I didn't hold out much hope for finding someone especially after fully realizing that I was entering a profession of women starting out in a program full of women (we had 3 guys out of 60 people in the Masters program).

I became even less hopeful once I started working full time as a first-year teacher.  It's an understatement to say I was a little overwhelmed. Those of you who have not been there, let me offer an analogy. Your first year of teaching is like being thrown into shark infested waters in the middle of the ocean. Yeah, you know how to swim but you had only been practicing in the calm, chlorinated waters of a backyard swimming pool. You could always swim to the side or the shallow end to get out. You could always grab a noodle or floatie for supported if you needed such a thing. Now, you're in the middle of the cold, salty, unforgivingly relentless ocean. Your feet can't touch the bottom. Your eyes see nothing but the cold blue-green of despair in all directions. To top it off, you start seeing shadowy figures looming beneath the surface, a constant reminder of all the responsibilities you have. You call out for help and you might receive some if there happens to be a sympathetic rescue boat nearby. (Okay, potential teachers don't be too scared. I tend to exaggerate a bit).

In the midst of my newbie teacher flailing, I decided to empower myself. I had to stay strong and take care of myself and live the life I wanted to live. I started working out and eating healthier. I sought help both from colleagues and old professors. I used the knowledge and experience I did have to start figuring out all the in's and outs of teaching. I was figuring out who this adult I suddenly realized I had become was.

It was at this point I decided I was ready to go out and find love for myself. With such a jam-packed schedule and with the amount of work I was putting in I also decided that I needed to make it easy on myself.

Yes...I went on EHarmony.com.

Wait! Don't go!!!! If you haven't done the online dating thing you're probably rolling your eyes right about now. EHarmony? The one with the cheesiest commercials ever?


Not only did I not have to pay anything to get matched up with people (score one for the starving teacher) I also really didn't have to do any of the work to get matched (score another one for the overworked teacher).

I was quite optimistic as I checked out my matches that were emailed to me every day, judging dozens of guys by their profile information.

I saw a couple guys who seemed to have potential. I started paying and started communicating with the guys.

I then realized that there wasn't one person from the website I was really excited about. Nooooo! Not again! After the initial onslaught of new-member matching, the emails became fewer and fewer. My idea to reject short guys started seeming a little picky. I started to lose hope again as another month went by and I hadn't found one person I wanted to even venture out on a date with.

Then I came across E's profile in my inbox.

His picture was cute, although he wasn't quite the type I normally went for. He was in the right age range. He had a respectable job, Psychologist, that I had a little bit of knowledge about (yay, Psychology degree!). His interests included reading and doing things outdoors. He didn't smoke and liked to drink occasionally.  And he was tall, 6'4. Score. In short, I saw enough things in common to get a little excited about and no real red flags.

He requested communication from me.

Score! He's interested too!!! Weeks went by going through all EHarmony's stages with E. We answered multiple choice questions, short answer, long answer, and "open communication" which was basically email through the website.

It was...very boring.

I have to laugh at how much methodical the whole thing was. Even in my naive pre-relationship state, I realized that I had no idea who this guy was. I was getting a little antsy. This was the best match I had found. I actually wanted to get to know this guy. His one sentence answer to my question, "Where would you travel if you could go anywhere in the world," wasn't satiating my curiosity.

We had gotten to a point where he hadn't responded to my "open communication" email in a couple weeks. I was getting a little worried (E would explain much later on that he almost canceled his membership because he had gotten disillusioned after some bad EHarmony dates before meeting me).

I made a bold move, for me anyway. I suggested that he just call me already so we could actually talk to each other.

He did.

I was soooooooo nervous. Looking back, I think I was more nervous for this phone call than I was on the actual date. I was so inexperienced with this whole dating thing. What if I said something stupid? Or worse, what if I couldn't say anything and it was just awkward silence the whole time...What if he actually turned out to be a complete ass? How could I end the phone conversation without making a date just because I felt bad?

After some initial chit-chat, the meat of our conversation started out in a very interesting and unexpected way:

E: "Sorry if I sound a bit tired...I had to talk one of my kids off the roof today."

Me: "Oh! That's okay, do you want to call another time...uh, we could talk later if you want..."

E: "No, talking to you is actually quite soothing."

E proceeded to explain the roof incident. It involved a crazy kid and police and dogs. E explained that he worked with emotionally disturbed youth. I was intrigued. And so it continued on for about an hour. E and I kept the conversation flowing and to my relief E did a lot of the talking (knowing him quite well now I have to say he talks for a living and is quite good at it). I did my fair share and felt more and more at ease as the conversation continued.

I began to realize over the course of the phone conversation how much we had in common. We are both the oldest of four children, we both work stressful jobs with children, we both like to read, and love the outdoors. We both are close with our families and talked about our siblings and parents and childhoods.

My impression over the phone was that E sounded quite intelligent and a little off-key in the sense that his sense of humor was quite dry and he was so upfront and direct. It's hard to describe now since I know him so well, but my first impression was much different from who I discovered he actually was.

It was, though, a good first impression and the first date was set. Dinner and a movie. He'd choose the restaurant (Buca di Beppo) and I'd choose the movie (Run Fatboy Run- I figured that a light romantic comedy would be both harmless and neutral for a first date).

And so it began.

There was no crazy, turn of fate meeting that you see in the movies. There was no bolt of lightning from the sky. There was no anguish, no conflict, and no comedy.

It was all very uneventful and...easy.

After years of nothing, there was suddenly something. As easy as that. All those people I inwardly seethed toward after their good-hearted, "You'll find love when you least expect it," comments began to seem slightly less smug and insane.

Sometimes finding love can be easy and you realize that just because it is, it does not diminish the significance of the event.

I look back now and realize that all these inane details described in this post may seem truly uneventful, but the fact that they led to such a significant and life-changing phone call has made them quite fateful and quite important.

Did I realize that at the time? Of course not.

I was just a person nervously going on a blind EHarmony date.

To be continued....

Next Time- Episode IV: A New Hope.

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