When I was twenty-six I followed my parents to Central America where I spent five years working among the women of an impoverished community in Honduras. It was a rich time in my life in that I found the work very gratifying and fulfilling. I started a sewing school where the women could learn a marketable trade. I loved working with my students. I enjoyed learning a new language and a new culture. But it was also a very challenging time in my life. I was lonely. While girls back in the States dated and went out on the weekends, I stayed home. There was really no place to go on a weekend night in Honduras, and if there had been, going out after dark wasn’t always very safe. My friends began to marry and have children. I would look at the wedding and baby photos emailed to me and wonder if it would ever be my turn. I wondered if I would find someone soon enough so I could still have the large family and the home I dreamed about.
After five years in Central America, I learned about eHarmony through a radio advertisement. This was somewhat back in the day before online dating really picked up and became very popular, so my initial response was not a very enthusiastic one. I set the idea aside. Until I heard about it again.
And I began to think.
I looked at where I was and what I wanted,
and I began to think.
On the one hand, I was mortified that I would even consider such a thing. This was the sign of someone desperate and I wasn’t desperate. At least I didn’t think so. And what on earth would people say if they found out? On the other hand, I considered my track record. Nothing up to this point had really worked out for me (as far as dating went). It was unlikely this would either. In the end I figured I could join the site, keep it a secret, and no one need ever know about it.
So I did. And three months later…
I remember that moment to a t.
I had come in that afternoon from teaching. On my way back to the little apartment I had next door to my parents’ home, I ducked into the office we shared to check email. I had a notice from eHarmony.
“Jennifer, we have reviewed your profile and we have found someone we’d like you to meet. Allow us to introduce you to….Marco”.
At the time, I had no idea that it was one of those life changing, life defining moments.
But it was.
And I remember it.
I glanced through his profile and to be honest, I didn’t see why they thought we were a good match. I saw though, that he spoke fluent Spanish and thought he might be someone with whom I could practice my language skills. Mmmmmmmaybe…we could just be good friends.
I “clicked” agreeing to correspond.
Within days my resolve to be just good friends was quickly thrown out the window. Dr. Warren was right. We were a good match. In fact, we were a great match.
In two weeks we’d gone from a few simple paragraphs within the safety of the eHarmony website, to a full blown four-page-letter-a-day correspondence from our respective email addresses. We’d exchanged last names, exact locations, all our hopes and aspirations.
I loved sharing with him the details of my day. I loved that he seemed interested, like he sincerely wanted to know. I began to feel like my day was not complete unless I’d had a chance to hear from him. I hounded my inbox.
We went from letters to online chat; chatting every evening from 7 to midnight. Usually the following morning there would be a little note just to say hello and good morning.
Then one night just as we started chatting I was informed that he had a surprise. He began a virtual countdown: 10…9…8 down to 1 and then the phone rang. It was him. We spoke together for the first time and talked for three hours ~ a call that would later cost him $900.00 due to a crazy mix-up with Sprint. While we both lamented the cost, it secretly made my day. I was worth a $900.00 phone call!
After we hung up we chatted online for another hour. Mid way through the conversation his online “tone” changed. He really needed to be honest he said, he liked to keep things up front. He hoped I wouldn’t think him abrupt, but he really needed to say something: “I <3 you.”
The pace of our online relationship escalated and we decided we needed to meet to see where it would go. Two months after our initial introduction, I was sent a plane ticket to CA to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family.
My first glimpse of him was through a sliding glass door at the L.A. airport. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket, and rocking back on his heels; slightly nervous. I came forward, and just sort of said “Well, I’m here.” He reached out, and took me into a hug. I rested my chin on his shoulder and he cupped his hand at the nape of my neck; a gesture that would become a very familiar daily morning ritual over the next several years. The following day we had our first official date at the Palm Court in the Coronado Hotel in San Diego: high tea on a Sunday afternoon.
48 hours later, he asked me to marry him. We were married on a beautiful June afternoon eight years ago today. The weather was sunny and unseasonably cool. I wore an antique lace veil and an ivory gown with a full chiffon skirt. I carried roses and lily of the valley. A flock of doves was released as we exited the church creating a very magical moment before we left for our honeymoon in a horse drawn carriage.
Over the years life has blindsided us with some pretty rough challenges we never anticipated. Some of those hopes and dreams we confided to one another in the infancy of our relationship never came to be. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, “high-five” moments, and devastating disappointments; but we’ve faced them all together, shared them all together, and the challenges have only served to deepen the relationship that began one afternoon as words on a screen. That “click” that said yes to a match was one of the best decisions of my life. After all this time, he still loves to hear the details of my day, and every so often we IM just for old time’s sake.
He was well worth all those years of waiting.
Happy Eight Years Babe! Here’s to 52 more.