I regret that I did not make this blog more a part of the goings-on of the wedding, especially since the blog itself played a rather large role in getting me together with my now wife. (Wife...wife...how long does it take to get used to saying, "My wife"?) I just felt like I didn't have enough time to do justice to the things I would write. Although, here is a lesson I've learned and mostly live by: it's stupid to not do something because you can't make it an EPIC. This whole marriage topic, though, just seemed too huge and important to just throw some crap up here in the few minutes I had between checking the number of napkins for the reception and finalizing an important document at work. So the best I can do, now that things have cooled off a bit, is to give a retrospective and maybe do what I do best - tell the story.
So, for those of you who don't know how all of this got started, I posted my birthday information on this blog a couple of years ago. Something to the effect of, "On this day in 1974 I was born at 1:14pm in Austin, Texas." It was innocuous enough - just a simple way of recognizing that it was my birthday on my blog.
A few days later I get this email with a title line that said, "Apparently we're soulmates."
At the beginning of the body of the email it said,
"ahem, you don't know me from adam but your blog is linked to *my* friend's blog...and you're fucking hilarious.
anyway, pine away.... "
Following that in the body of the email was what appeared to be a bunch of astrological stuff that I didn't understand.
To me, the email looked suspiciously like spam and I very nearly deleted it. Isn't it crazy to think how important that moment ended up being? But there was something there; something just a little too personalized for it to have been spam. So I didn't delete it and here was my reply, "Is this serious or are you trying to get me to buy something? Or join a sun-worship cult?"
Turns out that the birthday information that I posted is the exact information that someone who wants to run an astrological chart on someone would need. And it also just so happened that Audra had just gotten a link to an astrology website that allowed you to plug people's birth information in and get readings and compatibility charts. I learned later that Audra got some grief for essentially making a pass, via internet, at a relative stranger. I could have gotten the same grief for responding, if not for the double standard for females. I think it showed that both of us are at least a little adventurous; a good thing, in my book.
What followed was your basic, "You don't know me but I know your friend" kind of exchange. Then came the background info - where do you live, what do you do, what do you like - that sort of thing. That lasted about a day.
Of course, I tried to fuck it up by pulling the classic Swingers "don't call her for 3 days" routine. Our first round of emails was on a Monday and I didn't make any more contact until I got another email from her on the following Tuesday (that's 8 days, if you're counting). The title of her next email was "That's it?" and the body of the email said, "you're through with me? after all we've been through? sigh."
Well, that pretty much did it. I took the bait. I guess I was a little nervous that I'd never hear from her again and that she would become "the one that got away." So one thing I felt when she contacted me again was relief. I was also somewhat flattered that she'd thought enough of me to try to keep it going. I really didn't think it was going to go anywhere based on the first round of emails. What that told me was that she had tenacity, and I liked that.
What followed was a lot of really clever and funny stuff back and forth between us; even a few borderline mildly sexual references. Before I had another chance to go to radio silence, she came with this: "but seriously. lets have a drink next time i'm in houston or you're in austin. before we quit each other again."
(See, she didn't want to lose me again. Notice how nonchalant she was trying to be. "But seriously." Can't you just hear the ever-so-slight fear there that I was going to go away again? See how that 8 day thing works?)
You know how when you meet someone for the first time and it's so...exhilarating? So full of POSSIBILITIES? Well that's how this felt. I think we were both pretty excited. I was the first to float the idea of making the switch from email to talking on the phone and I called her. When I called and she answered I immediately loved the sound of her voice. It was perfectly feminine and lilting. We talked for hours the first few times. I think that went on for around 3 weeks. Pretty soon we set up a date when she was coming to Houston.
She lived in Austin and her parents lived in Houston, where I lived. On the lead-up to the date I tried to get my game face back on. I was really excited to finally meet her in person, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high or appear too eager. I remember very clearly walking up to her parents' door and ringing the doorbell. I kind of liked the idea of picking her up at her parents' house even though we were well beyond those years. It made things seem like we were younger and more innocent than our actual years.
I also remember when she opened the door. She had a big smile on her face and we were allowed to be genuinely happy to see one another since we had already been talking for a while. It felt sort of like we were old friends. She came through the door to hug me and I actually tripped a little bit on the door mat. I remember thinking to myself, "What a dumbass." I don't know if she noticed or not.
We went to a restaurant and a bar and we had a great time together. I can't say that our first date was perfectly scripted or even that we knew we were going to be together forever after that night. But I did know enough to ask to see her again.
Really from the beginning I just felt like we belonged together. We could talk for hours and we just really, really liked being around each other. And the best part is that it was so easy. She was easy to be around and easy to talk to. At that stage there were no disagreements or strains (there have been one or two since). From my experience, relationships are hard. And if you can talk to someone and be around them and it's easy then that's a pretty good foundation.
When the relationship advanced we had a really tough decision to make. Since we lived in different cities one of us was going to have to move if the relationship was going to go anywhere. Based on my job situation, it would have been really hard for me to move to her. There were a lot of other factors, of course. In the end, she moved to Houston. Not because that was the best place for us to be or because of my job or anything like that. It was mostly because she is so selfless and because she was committed to making our relationship work. It was a really hard thing for her to do - she had a good job and lots of friends and she loved Austin. It was a huge sacrifice for her and I've never been able to adequately recognize that. I tried to express my appreciation and support, but I also felt more than a little guilty about it and tried to hide from it at times, which had a stifling effect my gratitude.
We were living together - a first for me - and over time we obviously got to know one another a lot better. Fortunately, neither of us was in a big hurry to get married, although she would try to tell you that I was (but I really wasn't). I am, however, willing to admit that I felt like I was ready to get married, but I wouldn't have just done it to do it or just because I wanted to. There are a lot of people out there who are rabid to get married, and a surprising number of them are male, but I wasn't one of them. I was simply at a place in my life where I was ready, if the opportunity presented itself with the right person, whereas I really hadn't been before. But there was certainly no pressure on the marriage topic brought to bear by either of us. Since there wasn't any marriage pressure we were really free to just live in the moment without worrying about where our relationship was headed or how it was going to end. And I think that allowed us to just be comfortable in the relationship and to get to know one another and explore our compatibility at a natural pace.
Audra and I are not the same people. We've got a lot of differences - in our personalities, what we believe, likes, dislikes, a lot of things. We're not opposites, by any means, but we are the products of two totally different environments. Our inside joke analogy is "Country Mouse, City Mouse," which was a Disney book we both had as kids. I grew up in a rural area outside of a small town and she grew up in Houston. And we were both very much products of our respective environments. At age 20 I moved to a big city for college and that's when my mind began to open up. And it's gone from there. I think one of the good things that has happened to me as I've matured is that I have become more open to new things and don't fear change as much as I once did. Some people would probably laugh at the thought of me being "open-minded," but believe me, I've come a long way from my upbringing and where I was as a young adult. Audra, on the other hand, seems like she's always had courage about being different and trying new things. Despite my strides, I'm nowhere near where she is. But I love that because she challenges me in that way to be open-minded, to try new things and not become stagnant. Plus, we're so different that looking at her is not at all like looking in a mirror. When I look in a mirror I know what I'm going to see. That's comforting and safe, but it can also be boring and stale. With Audra, there's so many new things to explore and talk about.
I could go on and on about "Why I love Audra," but I don't think it would make very good reading and she would start to suspect that this whole exercise was just one big kiss-up move. So I'll stop. But I think it's pretty obvious that I really loved her and I saw a lot of great things about being with her for a long, long time.