I always get a little extra mushy around Christmas time. B and I met in December and have been together for nearly 8 years; married for almost 5 of those. Full transparency, while our relationship has had its major ups and positive moments, it has also definitely had its more challenging moments. And to be honest, sometimes we outright get on each others’ nerves. That said, I absolutely adore that human being. And while I lowkey hate being this corny person, I struggle to sleep when we are not together and sometimes she still gives me butterflies when I just think about her. She is an amazing partner in life and in keeping this tiny human alive and well. Despite the loveliness of all of this, I would say that we came into each other lives in a relatively unconventionally way: The internet. Dun-Dun-Dun!!
Okay, okay. A bunch of people meet on the internet these days. So that part’s not all that unique. But, let me set the stage a little. I was in my late twenties and had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with someone for a couple of years and then had been single for about a year. I was in graduate school, working on my dissertation proposal, and living alone with my pup. I also had a research fellowship, which meant I didn’t have to teach for that semester. The whole living alone, working on my dissertation, and not going to campus thing was starting to take a toll on my social, more extroverted side. Sure, I was going to a local gay bar most Friday evenings and talking to the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Saturday mornings (One morning, I was still a little drunk and opened the door to whoever was there and it was them! After that, as one could imagine, they kept coming back and, as one might also imagine, I kept talking to them. Ask me later how that relationship resolved itself…). Anyway, my bar outings and the Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t really enough. Most of my friends had graduated and/or moved to different parts of the country for internships. I realized that I was missing some socializing on an intimate level; not the kind of stuff you get a bar. So, I went to the internet, like anyone would do.
Specifically, I posted on Craigslist. Hahaha! The champagne of websites. Haha! Now, before you start judging, I wasn’t posting for a hookup; I could have gotten that at the bar I was going to. The post I made said something along the lines of if you’re reading this, you’re obviously just as bored as I am. Then, the post went on to say a little bit about me and that I just wanted to hang out with someone who had shared interests. I got a few responses and then ended up getting super busy having to defend my dissertation proposal and that’s when Beth wrote.
I won’t tell all that was happening on her side of things, maybe she’ll do that herself one day, but let’s just say she was doing that thing where you’re seeing someone, nothing is committal, but for some confusing reason, they randomly talk about the future to you like you’re building a life together. Anyhow, from what I am told, she was trying to decide if she was going to respond to my CL post or not and watching it slowly move lower and lower on the page. She said she responded on the last possible day. She wrote a long email about herself and I wrote back pretty soon thereafter. Then she got weird, as she often does.
Her next email was something like, I don’t know if I’m ready for a relationship, but if you still want to hang out, I’d still like to. She also told me more about herself. This time I didn’t write back as soon as I had to her first email, and when I finally responded a few days later, I just said something like “yeah that’s fine; here’s my number if you want to text.” I was short because I was busy defending my proposal, but of course she didn’t know this. And now that I know her, I know that response only sent her into all sort of panic and anxiety-ridden thoughts about what it all meant. The funny thing is, I never posted it with intentions of starting a relationship, so her saying that seemed wholly unnecessary.
Nonetheless, we ended up texting with one another and set a day to meet up at Crystal Corner Bar in Madison. Between, we texted about random things and even ended up talking about some pretty deep issues like race and social class. And when the day came for us to meet up, I sent a text and cancelled. I was having terrible cramps and didn’t want to be bothered with going out. So, we rescheduled for the next night, December 17, and I stayed home wrapping Christmas presents and listening to music.
The next night, we moved our meet up to a gay bar, Plan B early enough that when I walked in, she was literally the only person in there. She was sitting at the bar with a beer. I walked up and, incidentally, ordered the same beer: Spotted Cow. Since we were meeting up as friends, it was super easy to just talk; we sat and did it for hours. Even so, I was awkward and randomly avoided eye contact with her because I found myself attracted to her. We eventually found ourselves surrounded by a local roller derby team celebrating something, but kept just sitting and talking. She was still smoking at the time, so we’d go out to the back in the freezing Wisconsin winter ever so often. At one point, I was nervously walking down some stairs and there was snow/ice, and she told me to go in front so she could catch me if I had fallen.
At the end of the night, we were standing in the parking lot, saying our goodbyes. I had let her know that I was leaving to go California for two weeks in a few day. That’s when she told me the infamous last words: “I don’t think I’m going to be able to just be friends with you.“
We set up an “official” date for a couple days later, on December 21st. I was planning to do all these super stereotypical first date things. I was planning to get flowers, pick her up, take her to a restaurant, order wine…honestly things I had never for someone done before. Then, she tells me that she just wants to come over after work and watch a movie or something. 😒 She never got that fancy date. Haha!! I’m kidding. But that night, we watched Finding Nemo and cuddled on the couch.
I want to be 100% clear that “watched Finding Nemo and cuddled” is not code for Netflix and Chill. When she went to leave, I walked her down to the front door of my apartment and we kissed. That’s when I asked her not to hook up with Alaska girl; who was the woman she’d been hanging out with in a non-commital way. I immediately regretted saying it because a) I had literally met this woman four days before, b) I had no business asking her not to do anything, and c) I had honestly never been that worried about anybody else’s behaviors. Nontheless, she found made it more awkward by being like….”uuhhh, this is why we I didn’t want to start something.” And that is how we parted ways for the holidays.
I left for California to spend Christmas and the New Year with my family and friends and she was technically laid off from work those same two weeks, so we spent a lot of time talking on the phone and texting. In many ways, I think the time we spent apart in the initial stages allowed us to really get to know each other better.
I’m not 100% sure what day it happened-definitely before I got back to Wisconsin-she ended one of our calls with “I love you.” My stomach dropped and there was a long pause. Then I said it back. I felt it, but I couldn’t understand why and so soon even. But there we were, leaning into our feelings. Then, probably the next day, who knows, she asked me to be her girlfriend. I told her no. LoL! I said I didn’t want that to happen over the phone and that she should ask me again when I get back. She still brings this up to this day, just how terrible I am.
On January 5th, 2012, I landed back in Wisconsin. I drove from Milwaukee to Madison (about 80 miles) and got to my apartment. B met me there and, her favorite part of the story, I promptly pretended to be very busy in the kitchen. Why? Because I can be a weird and awkward person sometimes! She told me to stop being weird and sit down and there, in my couch, she asked me to be her girlfriend again. I said yes.