Saturday, November 6
Forgive me for this long blog post, but after being away so long, I feel like I'm reloaded with words; Lots and lots of words! Haha! This is a somewhat detailed story, so I will be posting it in 2 parts. If you like this part, make sure you check out Part 2 coming Sunday.
My husband and I became acquaintances via a casual business agreement back in 1996. We hit it off right away, and I could tell this was someone I'd probably remain friends with after we'd finished the work involved...but I never suspected I'd fall head over heels in love.
This was in a time when the average layperson was just tiptoeing into the realm of conducting business over the internet, and here I was, barely knowing how to even navigate beyond the playpen walls of America Online, but agreeing to help this person edit a manuscript. For a good while, I never saw him, just heard his voice when we talked on the phone. He sounded fun, made a lot of quirky jokes that had me laughing often during our calls. I remember thinking that despite him being 33, he still sounded like a "college boy" to me. Then he asked if we could exchange photos so we'd each have a face to go with the voice. I was hesitant, having heard horror stories of internet psychos. I mean, here I was, a 29 year old single mom with a disability -- could be seen as somewhat vulnerable, but against my better logic, I went with my gut. This person seemed like the most decent and truly kind person I'd ever encountered...ever!
I emailed him my photo, and he emailed me his. I think we were both in for a little shock - and I'll tell you why:
I never mentioned I was in a wheelchair, believing it was really none of his business and on the off chance he was a psycho, I didn't want him seeing me as some easy target. But now that I was sending him my photo, I must have still been in "going with my gut" mode, and forgetting that I wanted to guard myself from any "yuckiness" I wrote a little caption that read: "Not bad for a crip chick, huh?" (Please don't be offended by my use of the word "crip" -- I only use it in regards to myself, and would never use a derogatory label with anyone unless I knew they saw it as all in fun, as I do with calling myself a "crip chick.")
On the other end, he sent me a picture of a bunch of guys on the deck of a large sailboat, most of them looking as if they'd imbibed a bit too much, and strangely, he'd labeled the wrong guy as himself. That guy looked like he'd just stepped off a Harley, having ridden cross-country with his fellow Pagan's -- he was scruffy, long-haired, and had a big, bushy beard...standing there in just swim trunks and no shirt, deeply tanned, amongst a rag-tag group much like him, the image didn't mesh with the voice. The voice was Breakfast Club preppy, college educated. His writing was eloquent and impressive. So who was the hairy guy? He assured me it was him.
Alternately, he was perplexed by the "crip chick" caption, and cautiously asked me what it meant. I was caught off guard, but I had nothing to do but just spit it out and then share the how's, why's, and when's.
We continued talking, but now much more often...and not always about his manuscript, but just talking. All the while me trying to meld together the cheerful, boyish voice with the big, hairy ruffian in the photo. Before too long, I realized I just didn't care...and it was obvious, at least based on his actions, that he wasn't the least bit phased by my wheelchair.
One day, he called and said he'd be in the Washington, DC area (where I lived) for a Super Bowl Party with a bunch of his college friends, and asked if I'd like to go with him. I surprised myself by agreeing to go. What was I thinking? I was probably going to be on the news the following week, having been another internet murder victim.
I did the best proactive thing I could think of at the time, I told my sister everything I knew about him, and asked my ex-husband to babysit our son.
Then I nervously waited for the day to come...and kept getting angry at myself for being nervous; telling myself over and over that this was nothing more than a friendship, and I DID NOT WANT a relationship anyway. I was focusing on being the best mom I could be, and my independence.
*ding dong* -- he was at my door.
As soon as I opened the door, I had a CRUSH on him...big time. Not love, but for sure a heavy duty crush. He was the face that I pictured with the voice. Long hair, yes, but clean and combed, and the shaggy beard was trimmed into a neat and tidy goatee. Very preppy glasses framed soft, caring brown eyes, and he smiled the sweetest, melt a girls heart smile, and had straight, sexy teeth (I have this weird thing about teeth, but that's another blog! Haha!) The photo I'd seen of him was taken at the end of an all-guy sailing trip to Tortolla filled with partying and merriment in the complete absence of any females to make sure they bathed.
He later told me he'd had a crush on me for quite a while already, without ever having seen me, face to face. And even more amazing, once he'd found out about my disability, he'd researched it as much as he could so he could be prepared and know what to expect. That meant more to me that any chocolates, champagne, or roses a date could bring me (which is good because our first meal together was McDonalds! Haha!)
But, in closing for this Part 1, I will say we never went to the Super Bowl Party (and no, we weren't crazy hopping into the sack or anything like that.) We just talked and talked, and went for a long drive and talked some more, late into the night. Then he went down the road and got a hotel room so we could spend more time together the next day...which is the day I fell in love with him and I'll tell you about in Part 2.
Posted by Team Chastain at 6:32 PM