It is absolutely unsurprising that Chip and I met online. I mean, he does all his shopping there. And the way I saw it, the kind of guy I wanted to meet would know exactly what he wanted, what he didn’t want, and would be looking for something permanent. It sounded logical and efficient, and I detested “trying to meet guys.” Additionally, I was temporarily living back in my home town, and I already knew there was no one there that I wanted to date. That’s why I left in the first damn place.
Okcupid.com was pretty much Facebook, but more up front about dating. There were all sorts of quizzes and polls and stuff, and it was a great way to kill an evening when you didn’t have a date. There was a function where it would show random pictures of guys, and if you clicked “like” nothing happened. But if he also clicked “like” it would send you a little notification and a link to each others’ page. I know I liked his picture.
And he liked mine. And I know he contacted me first, because I never would have contacted a guy from Eugene. I’d never been here before and had been intending to move to Portland, and so was only looking in that area. Chip was not so fussy.
Its funny, because you wouldn’t think I would be shy. But when it comes to dating, I’ve always been awkward. Chip and I chatted, first over their shitty chat module, and later over Gmail. At first sporadically, eventually nightly. We both avoided the phone except for one stilted conversation to explain that he’d spilled beer on his keyboard. It took us three months to finally make a date, and we couldn’t figure out what to do. So I just drove the two hours in from the coast and met up at his place.
He gave me some DVDs of Mystery Science Theater episodes in lieu of flowers or candy. First off, I’ve never had a guy bring me a present on a first date anyway. And this was particularly cute because I had put on my dating profile not to bother contacting me if he didn’t like that show. It’s a handy sense-of-humor litmus test, and while I’d forgive that kind of difference in taste in a friend, it is essential in a mate.
He took us out for coffee, which is always a safe bet. After that, he drove us up to Skinner Butte. I have to confess: There were a few moments as he drove us up that hill into what appeared to be the woods where I was nervous, and remembered my mother’s signature dating advice (“Everybody liked Ted Bundy”). But then we got to the top and had a cigarette together, looking out at the view. He told me he wanted to show me the town, since I’d never been.
After that, he suggested a movie. Specifically, Labyrinth, which was playing at the Bijou. I may have squealed and clapped my hands. Luckily he thought it was cute as hell. Then again, if he wasn’t into cute, we’d never have made it this far. There were only a handful of people in the auditorium, so it was just us two in the dead center of the theater. What’s funny is that we were both too shy to hold hands. Neither of us managed to make a move. Even during that dreamy song where David Bowie looks like a pedophiliac frilled lizard.
After that, we went out for dinner, and ended up watching a few more movies at his place, sitting awkward and shy on the couch like teenagers. Now you’re all crowding around waiting to see if we “did it” or not, and as it turns out, I do have some vague sense of modesty (or respect for my husband) and I am not going to tell you. I will say, though, that it took until the third movie before we got up the nerve to kiss–which included an awkward headbutt. I was giddy the whole way home. It took about a month before we managed a second date (his turn to drive two hours), but by the third we were both pretty sure about this whole “relationship” thing.
It has only been four years since those first emails. Almost exactly four years, since we met at the end of August 2007. And we have already been through so damn much. I see pictures from that winter, and (to me, at least) we look so much younger. Happy and optimistic and naive. At the time, we both thought we were pretty weathered. We had both been in disastrously awful relationships previously, had both been through some stupid phases, and had emerged on the other side ready to live productive, reasonably normal adult lives. We used to bond over our crazy pasts and misadventures, and sometimes talked about how nice it was to be with someone who had also walked through the fire. Then all that adult life hit us like a truck. Better and worse and richer and poorer and sickness and health, much of it before we were even married. I can only imagine how we’ll look back on ourselves in four more years.