Today (8/31) is our wedding anniversary. Lucky number 13. And a few weeks ago, when we were on a working vacation at Walt Disney World, a waiter asked us if we were on our honeymoon. Not too shabby for an old married couple with more than a decade of anniversaries under our belt.
As a writer of romances, I’m always fascinated when I hear stories of how people met and fell in love. Luckily, it is a story people often enjoy telling, too. I know I do. Our story began in 1995, in the early days of internet communication — you remember, the dark ages of 9600 and 14.4k modems, squawking dial-up connections and transfer rates at about the speed of snails. AOL was one of the big players then, with their tiny-lined chat rooms and people trolling for… well, whatever people trolled for in the mid-90s. We both ended up in the same chat room on more than one occasion. I had lots of friends in that chat room; we used to gather about every three months somewhere (Boston, Orlando, San Francisco, Ft. Wayne…. you know, all the hot places to gather!). Virtual friends became real friends, and good times were had. But this one character kept showing up, and I noticed him. Why, out of a room of virtual peeps, did he stand out? Easy — he used full sentences and correct grammar and punctuation! All the time!! No short-cuts, no abbreviations — zip, nada! And he made me laugh. Just words on a screen and he could make me truly laugh — out loud, even. So eventually he noticed me back (I’ll never tell how!). And we talked on the phone. A Lot. Often. Turns out he was in radio for a bit, and dang if his radio voice didn’t radiate over the phone lines, diminishing the miles between us to nothing. He sounded like he was right there next to me, with me. And soon enough, he was.
Following my mother’s lead, I’m not one to let a good man slip by. We rearranged lives and locations and made it happen. Then I told my family. That story is for a different time…. But my story, and the one I stick to like glue, is that he was hand-picked for me. By the time I was 29, my mother had abandoned all hope of seeing me married; all my siblings had accomplished that by 23 at the latest. And after she passed away that year, I joked that her first stop in the afterlife was to kick some butt in the matchmaking department. A few months later, my favorite aunt passed away, and she was second only to my mother in the “So, are you married yet?” rituals that visiting the small town where I grew up had become. And that’s when I met him, first online and then in “real” life. And I knew. The first moment I looked into those baby blue eyes. I was a goner. But luckily, so was he. Some of our virtual friends even came to our wedding.
So here we are, an old married couple, 13 years later. We’re pretty good at reading each other’s thoughts and anticipating sentences and moods. But there are still surprises. Good ones.
Lucky number 13, indeed.