Eighteen years ago this week, I sat down at a computer in my hometown, I was just sixteen years old at the time, and composed an email to someone I had never met but that my sister had found online and said, “he is perfect for you.” I didn’t really know what to say; I was caught somewhere between being myself and wanting to actually be likable!
Of course, I didn’t know then when I wrote that email that the young man on the receiving end would someday be my husband. This was back in 2000, when meeting people online was still a bit creepy and unusual, and being a high school student far away, I had no expectations. I just thought it would be cool to have a friend in America, someone I could write to, be friends with, etc.
I feel like Forrest Gump at the beginning of the movie when he says he can’t remember being born or going on his first outdoor picnic, but he can remember the moment he heard the most beautiful voice in the world. I have forgotten many important things, but I can remember exactly where I sat writing that email, how I felt, and even how I probably looked: long, light brown hair in a ponytail, wire-framed glasses with bifocals in them, sneakers that were getting a bit worn out.
I also remember the feeling I had when I got my reply from him. He was not a typical teenage boy. He was well-traveled, well-read and articulate, while at the same time being down to earth and a true “country boy.” I was intrigued.
This was back before either of us had a scanner or digital camera. He and I conversed for some time before we ever saw a photo. I was able to send him one first, a somewhat blurry photo of me in my parents’ front yard. But it wasn’t until August of that year, a full six months after our first email exchange, that I finally saw what he looked like. I was lucky I thought he was so cute because by this point it was too late anyway. I was smitten.
It was a long and somewhat bumpy road between the day we met online to the day we got married. For six and a half years we communicated via long distance, breaking up at one point and remaining friends while we rather unhappily observed the other date someone else. Our long distance relationship ended the day we got married in 2006. For the first time, we would be together on a long-term basis. And despite having known each other for over six years, it was amazing how much we learned about each other in those first months of marriage, and how much we are still learning!
I have now known my husband for over half of my life, this year officially marks crossing that halfway mark. Together, we have grown up, discovering all of the challenges of adult life together. There have been times when I am certain we have been at our wit’s end with one another, but there is something to be said for sticking it out with the love of your youth. He knows me better than anyone. He anticipates not only my needs but my dreams as well. He knows my potential and my limitations.
Eighteen years. Seems hard to believe when in my heart I feel like I’m only fifteen most of the time, anyway!