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Every Little Thing Anticipates You

[Found my happy place]

Six years ago this week, I met my husband -in person - for the first time. We had known each other for months thanks to a bit of serendipity and AOL.

Getting to know someone through instant messages and six hour nightly telephone conversations is interesting. In a way, it’s better than face to face dating because there’s no movie to watch or dinner to comment on. There’s a forced sense of conversation. You have to keep the talk flowing and in the process you get to know each other faster and on a deeper level in a few phone calls than most people do over a plate of pasta.

We spent months racking up the phone bills, sending each other surprise packages and sentimental handwritten letters. We fell asleep on the phone together most nights, in a bittersweet sort of ritual where fooled ourselves into thinking we were together.

At some point in a long distance/physical strangers relationship, you realize it’s time to fish or cut bait. There was a certain romantic magic in waiting every night for the phone to ring, a nervous kind of anticipation that made our love for each other somehow urgent and intense. We were ready to make the leap, to see if we could take that intensity and urgency and those deep conversations and carry them over into the flesh.

So we set a date. First week in March, he would travel to New York from Pennsylvania. We’d meet at Penn Station. We’d find out if what was already an unconventional relationship in more than one way would work.

As I sit here writing this - listening to Nick Cave and listening to the March wind whip the branches outside my office window, in much the same way I did six years ago - I can conjure up every single emotion I felt in the three weeks between planning his trip here and the actual fruition of that trip. The nervousness, the worry, the anxiety, the constant reassurance we gave each other that everything would work out, that we shouldn’t be worried about things like the way our hair looked or the zit that suddenly made a very untimely appearance on my chin. We talked each other down off of absurd ledges, like what if you hate the way I look and you run the other way, or what if there’s no physical attraction, no spark, no fireworks when we kiss for the first time?

Was I worried? Absolutely. After a few years of being depressed and lonely, and after giving up all together on relationships and men in general, I had the proverbial knight in shining armor show up out of the blue. I was happy. Comfortable. Content. In love. Of course, the old self esteem issues showed up and I spent days freaking out, thinking he would find me a hideous beast and completely unlovable, that he would step off the train, take one look at me and throw himself under the tracks rather than have to face me.

And then there was the fairy tale dreamer in me that envisioned the whole thing, night after night, laying in bed and playing out the scenario as if I were writing the script for some happily ever after movie. He steps off the train, their eyes lock, he drops his bags and holds out his arms and she runs to him as the train platform turns magically into a field of poppies and wildflowers and the wind is blowing her hair back and he’s wearing chain mail and his white steed looks on admirably as she falls into his arms.

Ahem. Where was I?

So the day finally came. His train wouldn’t be in until early evening, so I had the whole day to pace back and forth and talk myself out of throwing up. I finally boarded my train to Penn and slipped my headphones on, calming myself with a mix tape that he made me on New Year’s Eve, the one he sent with the long letter and the drawings.

I think of you in motion and just how close you are getting
And how every little thing anticipates you

I watched out the window as town after town went by in a blur, each passing station bringing me closer to either realizing a dream or - and here’s one I didn’t think of until just then - meeting with a serial killer who meets women over the internet, has sex with them, chops up their bodies and boils their flesh. Baldwin. Rockville Centre. The conductor called out the stops and each one that took me farther from home made my stomach clench a little tighter and my heart beat a little faster.

At Penn Station, I hesitated. I just stood there in the middle of the moving throng, being jostled and pushed and cursed at. I stood there and imagined, for the last time, what was going to happen when I went up those stairs and to the platform where I was supposed to meet him. It will be the most romantic moment of your life, I told myself. And I walked.

My train was late. His was a little early. So instead of having this envisioned moment where his train pulls up and he sees me standing there waiting for him and he smiles and nods approvingly and blows me a kiss (I know, I can come up with some real vomit-inducing scenarios), he was already there, on the platform, waiting. That was him, right? In my heightened state of paranoia and anticipation, my brain decided to throw some doubt into the mix to really mess me up. What if that’s someone who just looks an awful lot like him? What if it’s just some random guy waiting for a ride and your guy not only isn’t there, but bailed on you and is back in Pennsylvania, watching a movie and contemplating how he’s going to tell you that he just doesn’t feel that way about you?

Whoa. Deep breaths there, babe. Calm yourself.

He looked up. I knew right away it was him and my first instinct was to just stand there like an idiot and stare at him. Which I did. And his first instinct was to just stand there like an idiot and stare at me. Which he did. I’m not sure what happened next. He insists that I made the first move an practically tackled him with a bear hug and shoved my tongue down his throat. I think he made that up, because I remember him walking towards me. Either way, it wasn’t quite the romantic moment I thought it would be and frankly, it was kind of awkward. For just a few moments, though. When we regained our composure and he smiled and I smiled and he reached for my hand, I knew. He knew. Yes, we could take that intensity and urgency and those deep conversations and carry them over into the flesh.

We walked outside and the March air made me shiver. He wrapped his coat around me and we stood on a sidewalk in New York City and kissed and held each other and smiled and I swear there was no one else in that world but the two of us for that time. Every sound of the city, every person, every building was obliterated and we were the last two people on earth, standing on top of the world and making out like two kids kissing for the first time.

“You guys on your honeymoon?”

A raggedy man in a smelly coat and dirty ski cap was standing within inches of us, grinning, showing us all of his three or four teeth. I smiled back at him.

“You could say that.”
“Heh. Got a cigarette?”

Justin handed him a Marlboro, and we all lit up at the same time. We stood there smoking under the city lights, Justin’s arm around me, my head on his shoulder and our new friend just hanging out, looking at us with that goofy grin.

“Welcome to New York,” I told him.
“I think I like it here,” he said.

I guess he did. He’s still here.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Every Little Thing Anticipates You:

» The New-Old Fashioned Way from UNCoRRELATED
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Michele at A Small Victory tells the story of a friendship/e-romance that began on AOL and wound up in marriage. He looked up. I knew right away it was him and my first instinct was to just stand there like... [Read More]

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Comments

Congrats!! I love happy endings! My Nerdstar often says "thank you AOL" because that's how we met as well. We'll hit our six year anniversary next month.

Here's to many more!

I kept waiting for something bad to happen 'cuz it almost always does. And it didn't! Good for you. Good story, too.

Now that was a wonderful story. Gives one hope, it does :) Thanks for sharing it and happy anniversary.

I am a Charter Member of AOL (15 years now), and that has to be one of the nicest stories I've ever read involving IM relationships.

Incidentally, from one celebrating a wedding anniversary (15 years!) to another, Happy Anniversary

I love how the serial killer angle never even occurred to you until you were already on the train--

--but it still worked out good. Awesome.

The Big Hair & I met on Match.com and spent weeks messaging before we first 'met' at a Starbucks. On our first date I made her dinner at her place and our first kiss was on our 2nd date, at a gig my band was playing.

We get married in 42 days.

I hung out with a smelling toothless beggar once. Yep, used to love those fishing trips with Dad.

j/k. I had to spend the night in the drunk tank once for serial pissing. I had hit every one of those garden gnomes on 23rd street before they caught up with me.

j/k. The Dad thing was true.

Michelle-

I'm not sure where the post (#9) is really going, but whatever...

Nice story- right up my hopelessly romantic alley!

I have a long, telling story along the lines of this one... too long to list you with in the comments, but I'd be happy to send it along if you'd be so inclined as to read it... I wrote it all on a whim one day, after being reminded of a lost love. E-mail me if you'd like to read it- I'd really love to see what a person outside of those involved thinks of it-

OK, that blows our 'my mom set us up on a blind date' story out of the water.

Congrats on six years since then; here's to the next sixty!

Almost as good as Hershey's Special Dark kisses. ;)

Congratulations, Michele - this story, as you told it, sounds so exciting, so wonderful. Happy anniversary!

Nice,thanks for making me tear up and sniffle.

Michelle...

You'll get a lot of new IPs coming your way as I forward this to a lot of my friends who've never hit asmallvictory.net before. :) Awesome story... particularly your description of the "phone relationship".

If George Lucas hadn't totally ruined the phrase, I'd start calling you "A New Hope."

snniiiiifffff

That was beautiful. Just beautiful.

Congratulations, Michele and Justin! May you have many more years of wedded bliss.

I met my husband on the 'net as well. We were together 6 years this December and we'll be married 5 years this June. Ain't love grand? ;-)

"You've got Mail!"

Ah yes, reminds me of meeting my own wife in person, a little over 8 years ago, where I stepped off a train in some rinky-dink English town...

I echo what others have said about this great piece. Met my husband 10 years ago this May on AOL; in person in June; married 9 years this December. Your story reminded me of my feelings during my final descent into LAX to meet him in person. Ditto the intial awkwardness that flooded away. Our "sidewalk scene" was on the beach in Santa Monica. Thanks for reminding me and making me smile!

It is a beautiful story, and it does offer hope for us romantically bedraggled types...

Happy Anniversary. I met mine in person a year ago next week. Your story gave me butterflies!

So you're saying the serial killer thing could be, like, a total buzzkill?

Damn, guess I'll have to rewrite that friggin' profile again . . .

And, BTW, I proudly stand with the majority -- congratulations!

This piece definitely goes in the book. I think it's my favorite post this year.

Remind me again why you're not making a career of writing? Your work does an incredible job of drawing the reader in and making him a part of the experience.

Anyway, glad you're feeling better, you sappy cheeseball.

can i just say that you made me tear up at work. eyes are seriously watering here. you had me at hand holding. HEARS TO YOU!

Great post.

My wife and I have a similar story....chatting, phone calls, letters, birthday cards, and then The Visit.

The Visit was both eagerly anticipated and horrifiably scary, if that's a word. The Visit has turned in to the love of a lifetime, and we'll have been married six years this June.

Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me of my story. Our stories are good ones, we should (and do) feel very lucky.

Ditto the getting-to-know-someone vs. the distance-imposing movie and dinner thing. My wife and I met online also, and it's ten years this year now. :-)

awwwwwwwwwwww.

You two.

Great post...congrats!

And fwiw, we're another couple that met via AOL...wow, we met 10 years ago! I better get something cooking for this "anniversay"

I came over from Elliott's site. Great story. I'm going to have to share it with a couple of others who I know need to see it. And, congrats on the six years!