[yes, this time I am talking about a love story]
Several months after my separation from my ex-husband, I posted my profile on one of those online dating sites. This was in 2000 when there were free sites. Less than a month after my divorce was final, I met him. I don’t remember what he said to catch my attention, but we began sending notes back and forth. He was in a very large city in Arizona and I was in Auburn, Alabama. Our messages on the site grew to emails and discussions through an instant messaging program. We talked about our work, politics, philosophy, spirituality, and our lives. Eventually we also began talking on the phone.
This was a challenging time for us both. He had recently separated from his wife and was in the process of divorcing her. I was trying to finish my dissertation to graduate in August and my daughter would be graduating high school in June.
Across the days and weeks, I enjoyed our communication and learned a lot about him and some about myself. I liked his self-assuredness, his intelligence, his willingness to be vulnerable, and his sense of humor. We found that our politics, philosophies, and spirituality were quite compatible. Although he did not work in mental health as a provider, he managed the business aspects of a very large system that provided these services. The only problem that I could easily identify was that we were about 1800 miles from one another.
So, in late July 2000, I took a big chance. If a friend or relative suggested they might fly across the country to spend a week with someone they met online about 4 months ago, I would caution them. However, I purchased an airline ticket and flew to Arizona. We spent a week together. Because we both knew that there was a possibility that I might move to Arizona, he even set up a job interview (or two, I cannot remember) for me. We went on hikes and long drives, I met some of his friends, we talked for hours, and I began to fall in love. As the time for me to return to Alabama grew close, we both agreed that I would move to Arizona upon my completion of graduate school.
That gave me a month to get things in order. I graduated on August 24, 2000 and he flew to Alabama a couple of days later. We rented a truck, packed up all of my things, said our goodbyes, and began the drive to Arizona.
The most difficult goodbyes for me were my daughter and our dog Phoebe. While it was hard to say goodbye to my daughter, I knew that the only chance she had to make her own choices and her own mistakes was for me to be further away. We have always been very close and for me to remain nearby would not have been good for her. This was not a popular decision for several in my family and for my daughter. (thankfully she has since forgiven me) Truth be told, I cried about half of the way across the country and at a couple of points, my boyfriend offered to turn around and take me back. I declined because I knew that this was the right choice.
We arrived at his home (our home) on Labor Day and since that time, our anniversary is Labor Day (nice because it is always a vacation day). In the twelve years that we have lived together, we have resided in Arizona, Georgia (only 13 months), and Nevada and our family has grown to include 2 dogs. We have been through job losses, family deaths, surgeries, and a host of other stressors. These have all served to strengthen our relationship.
My boyfriend is my best friend, the love of my life, my play mate, and the first person with whom I want to share my successes, my failures, my fears, and my hopes. His arms continue to provide shelter from the pain and uncertainty that occurs in life. His laugh lights my soul in a way that little else can. He has made my daughter, her husband, and our grandson his own and loves them just as I do.
He has also helped me grow. He challenges me when I try to quit. He lifts me up when I am afraid to take the next step. He provides support, guidance, advice, and is my biggest cheerleader. Through my own efforts and his support, I have taken my career to a place I never dreamed it would go.
And now, as we approach yet another event (my surgery), I am reminded how grateful I am to have found the right one, the man with whom I plan to spend the rest of my life. And on this, our twelfth anniversary, I know that our future will continue to be filled with long talks, laughter, comfortable silences, and an enduring love.