After Kirk talked about our first date earlier this week, someone asked to hear my side. I thought it was a super idea, so apparently now I’m taking requests!
Allow me to take a moment to set the scene…
This was the very early 2000’s-- just a couple of months after September 11th. Most people didn’t text yet, and the only way most people had to access the internet was via dial-up modem (THE HORROR!!). Britney Spears was still in heavy rotation on the Top 40 stations, and only a single Harry Potter movie had been released.
I had finished college about a year and a half prior and then spent a year with AmeriCorps. While I looked for a “good” job, I was living with my parents and working in a pharmacy. Most of the customers that I saw at my job often enough to get acquainted with were either 30+ years my senior or were dealing with serious enough health issues that their focus wasn’t on dating at that point in their lives. Plus I lived with my mom and stepdad who, while being amazing people, were not exactly giving me a lot of opportunities for social interaction. Plus I was finally at a point where I decided that I needed to get my own shit together before I dragged some other sad sack into my life, so I was not looking for love.
I had been on match.com several months prior (largely out of curiosity), but nothing ever really led to anything. A friend from my time with AmeriCorps and I were talking on good-old AOL IM and comparing our experiences with the site (she was actively looking at the time if memory serves)… She sent me a profile or two, and we picked apart the grammar (yes-- I was that girl). And then I remembered the profile of the guy with no spell-check. The first time I read his profile, I really struggled to get through it. Then I realized I just had to sound out every word, and most of it made sense… So off I went to find this guy’s profile to share with the friend-- I knew she would appreciate it. I scoured for what felt like hours without success (I’m fairly certain I found the right guy but that he’d seen the error of his ways and done a re-write).
But when I logged off of the site and checked my email before disconnecting from the internet, I suddenly had more messages than I’d had in the total of my previous time on match.com (it was still fewer than 10 I believe-- like I said I’d never been on very much…) Most of them were very much, “Hey, you sound like fun-- let me tell you about my car/ boat/ motorcycle/ etc..” But one stood out. He asked good questions and seemed genuinely interested in finding out more about me. Plus his grammar and spelling were impeccable.
I don’t remember the specifics of what he wrote or what I wrote back (other than telling him that I was jealous that he made his living by writing), but we kept responding to each other.
After several exchanges, we decided to go out for dinner. The internet was a scary place at the time (and still is, Kids-- be safe out there), so we followed the general guidelines of staying somewhere public and well-lit. I met him at the restaurant and the first thing he said was something about “Who wears yellow coats anymore?” because I’d shown up in my very yellow winter coat. Fortunately he laughed quickly enough that I knew he was joking. I also knew that we were both nervous, so I gave him a free pass on the failed attempt at humor... It was an added bonus that he didn’t look like some creepy old guy. Because, let’s face it-- when you’re 24 and he’s 30, the possibility is real.
So we ate, and we talked… And we talked some more. Before I knew it, my fries were cold and my sandwich was only half gone because I’d spent more time focused on the conversation than eating. When the wait staff was clearly trying to close sections, we decided to move the party elsewhere.
The local Chi Chi’s (2002, remember?) had a bar, so we decided to go sit for a while. We both instinctively ordered pop (that’s Soda or Coke for those of you who might need a translation), and it was nice not to feel like we had to involve alcohol to make anything bearable. I’m sure the wait staff probably didn’t appreciate that our bill was tiny (we still tipped decently-- neither of us are monsters), but we appreciated that they put up with us.
Before we left for the night we’d exchanged numbers. We knew there would be another date, but I don’t think there’s any way either of us could ever have known everything that was to come.
Did we know that on our second date, he would try to take out my neighbor’s mailbox with his car because my stepdad made him nervous? Of course not…
Did he know that he would take me to the worst movie I’ve ever seen on our third date and that I would come back for a fourth date anyway? I hope not, because if he’d known that movie was that bad and taken me anyway, I might ask for a do-over...
Did we know we’d end up together? Maybe we hoped… At least for long enough to get to know whether or not we were a good fit for each other,
Did we know we would ever get married and parent together? Nope… No crystal balls on the tables at that Chi Chi’s...
Did we have a clue that our kid would be entirely amazing? Of course not-- kids can be assholes. And honestly, even ours can be, but he’s entirely amazing at the same time.
Did Kirk ever imagine he would be the stay-at-home dad? Heck no. I’m pretty sure he would’ve laughed in my face if I’d said that at the time.
And did we know that we would survive the ups and downs our time together has given us? That we would support each other through catastrophic losses of people we loved, jobs that supported us and even the dreams we’d once had for our futures? That we would eventually settle into the comfortable rhythm of the everyday chaos that is our lives? There’s no way we could have. And if we had known, would it have scared us off?
This sign hangs in our dining room, and for me it summarizes what we’ve become as a couple and a family. Yes we have chaos-- more than most people would imagine. But you know what? Our every day is my favorite kind of imperfect perfection.