Sunday, December 16, 2018

Skylar

Last week I got engayged. That's the same as getting "engaged," except cuter. Skylar made it clear to me a while back that if he was going to move to the great Mormon Siberia to be with me, I better make an honest woman out of him.

I actually didn't need encouragement. Skylar is the best person on this planet and I feel like I've won the lottery every time he even talks to me. That was sort of true the first time we ever chatted.

It was the summer of 2015. I was climbing into bed, late on a Saturday night, when I decided to check Tinder because I wasn't getting any younger.

This picture popped up:


Even now, I think it's interesting that he joined a dating app and decided that this should be his first impression for people.

There were some other pictures, too, including this one:


He was clearly funny, and adorable, and I was surprised that I didn't recognize him here in Small Lake City, where a gay starts to feel like they've met all of the other gays within the first two months after their debutante ball.

I swiped right and we immediately matched, meaning that he had already swiped right on me. So I sent him a message.

Usually my conversations with people on tinder left much to be desired. Just a lot of misspellings and "hey," mixed in with the occasional unsolicited vulgarity.

The first thing I ever said to Skylar was a Hebrew salutation.

I don't know why I chose to greet him this way, and why I couldn't think of anything more clever, but I typed out the word "shalom."  

Almost immediately his response came back: "With a greeting like that, how can I Passover you?"

I scream-laughed.

He continued to be funny. We messaged one another for the next hour. I told him that my working knowledge of every episode of Full House made me Salt Lake City's Greatest Catch. He responded, "not to brag, but I do have over a million points on neopets.com."

I still haven't looked the website up, and I stand by that decision.

We connected so well in such a short time on this stupid little app that after a while I typed out, "OMG. Is it too early to use the L word?"

"It's never too early to say 'lesbian,'" he responded.

"Well then I think I might lesbian you."

I woke up the next morning smiling, even though I knew I was never actually going to meet this very responsible Neopet owner.

He lived in Wisconsin. The only reason we matched on Tinder was because he was on a one-hour layover at the Salt Lake airport, got bored while taxiing on the runway, and opened Tinder for a few minutes. He saw a few Tinder profiles, including mine. He swiped right. By the time I opened the app later in the night and matched with him, he was already hundreds of miles away.

He had never been to Utah, and had no intention of ever coming back.

I had never been to Wisconsin, and had no reason to ever go visit.

I was a pragmatist, and not particularly romantic. I wasn't looking to be part of a 90s Meg Ryan film, and I assumed he wasn't either.

Usually when I tell people this story I say that the only thing that possessed me to keep talking to this middle westerner was his wit. "He was funny enough that I decided to keep chatting," I say. That's probably true, but looking back knowing how it all turned out, I have to think that there was more to it than that.

A lot of people are funny, but I don't necessarily spend all of my time thinking about them and finding reasons to bring them up in conversations and liking things just because I think they would like them, too.

In any event, we moved our conversation from Tinder to text the next morning, and that afternoon we Facetimed one another. He was sitting on a porch swing at his parents' home near Portland--that's where he was flying to the night before. He greeted me with a flamboyant and sing-songy "heloooooooooo" the moment his face popped onto my screen.

We chatted for a while, I don't remember about what. I told him we should talk again soon. We did, later that night, and the next day, and the next day after that.

A month went by and I felt like I knew this person I had never met in person. He apparently felt the same way when he called me and asked if I wanted to be his date to a wedding in Cleveland.

The moment he said it, the words "what am I doing?!" flashed through my mind.

This could never possibly work.

He lived so far away. I wasn't one of those people who thought starting a long-distance relationship with a person I met through the internet could ever be a good idea. Of course this could never work.

I was a pragmatist.

And I assumed he was, too.

But. It was just a weekend wedding. It could be fun. 

I found a lawyer conference happening near Cleveland the same weekend as the wedding, something relevant to my job, so I signed up for it, telling people that I was going to Cleveland for work, and I happened to know someone who would be there for a wedding that I guessed I would attend as well.

It made me feel less crazy that I was flying to Ohio to see someone from the internet if I could claim that I was really there for work.

The weekend was wonderful. (I'll save the truly hilarious story of our first date for another time, because it deserves its very own article.)

We attended the wedding. We danced. We toured Cleveland and the surrounding areas with our two shared favorite companions: enthusiasm and sarcasm. I was sad to say goodbye.

Skylar traveled for work quite a lot, so he started planning his trips to include long layovers in Salt Lake City. I looked forward to every visit, and felt lonely when he left.

I refused to call it what it was: a real relationship. 

Over the next many months, he broached the subject a few times, wondering if we were "going steady," like it was 1950. "No," I told him when he asked. We didn't live in the same place and there was no way this could possibly work.

I was a pragmatist.

And I assumed that he was, too.

Except that he wasn't. And after a while he finally told me that he couldn't do this anymore. That he wouldn't do this anymore. He wasn't going to keep flying halfway across the country to visit some friend. And his feelings were now too deep to continue just being friends. Although I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, I felt the same way.

But I was a pragmatist.

And this could never, ever work.

We lost contact, and this left a huge gaping hole in my life that could not be filled by anything. 

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. And months might as well have turned into decades for how long that period felt.

And despite the passage of time, I still found myself spending all of my time thinking about him and finding reasons to bring him up in conversations and liking things just because I thought he would like them, too.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore.

I sent him a text, asking if we could talk. It must have shocked him to hear from me after all that time, but he responded and invited me to Facetime him that night.

I did, and I ate crow. He pretended to consider whether he was still interested, obviously trying very hard not to smile. I didn't fault him for that, or for dropping the facade entirely and planning a trip to come see me only a few minutes into our phone call. 

We started visiting one another again, regularly. Before too long, he was able to move to Salt Lake City nearly full time, traveling weekly for work. 

People have asked me before when I knew I loved him. I think it was this one night I didn't want to go to sleep because it meant that I wouldn't be hanging out with him for the next 8 hours--that was the first time I realized I wanted to spend every moment with him. It was in Cleveland, the first weekend we met in person. 

Skylar decided to quit his job and apply to medical school. He took the required test, and scored exceptionally well, and I will brag about this forever because I'm proud of my little genius Neopet owner. 

He applied to schools across the country, and he got into several, including, to our great relief, the University of Utah, which is right down the street from our house.

He told me by wrapping Duncan in a red t-shirt.

I was so happy I started crying.

Then he dropped a bomb on me. 

He said that he wasn't going to stay in Salt Lake City and go to this school unless I planned to make an honest woman out of him. 

But I didn't need the encouragement.

Because Skylar is the best person on the planet, and I feel like I won the lottery every time he even talks to me.

So last week I gave him a ring.

I included an engraving on the inside: "I lesbian you."

I guess we're not always pragmatists. 












~It Just Gets Stranger

52 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story! Congratulations, guys! Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness.

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  2. This is exceptional writing.

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  3. WE NEED A GLAMOR SHOT OF THE RING!! Pose for us, Skyyyyyllllllaaaarrrr!

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  4. Please feel free to ignore or not post this if it's not something I should ask, but I was surprised to see you reference Skylar as "an honest woman" twice. I know I'm going to sound ignorant, but hopefully not offensive because I'm genuinely trying to understand, but it was my impression that gay couples didn't usually like to be compared to typical male/female roles in their relationships? Like, it would be offensive to ask "who's the girl in the relationship?"

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  5. I met my husband online by accident and we met in person for the first time in Cleveland...it must be A Thing. At any rate, congratulations again!

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  6. Ugh stop being cute and sweet and shit.

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    Replies
    1. Not that we know what shit is, CATHY!!!!

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    2. I almost added that to my comment, glad to see Strangers have my back.

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    3. Sarah, remember that time you yelled at me on Twitter? We were in like such a big fight.

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  7. that was beautiful

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  8. A) I love this story - thank you so much for sharing it.

    B) As you told this story I thought OMG - the trip to Cleveland - the trip to Wisconsin - THEY MAKE MORE SENSE NOW.

    C) I'm disappointed Skylar didn't live in Michigan so I could find some way to "accidentally" bump into you.

    D) I'm also disappointed that Amy Rose spent an entire weekend three hours from my house and didn't even think about popping over to see me!

    E) I also met my husband online. 20 years ago (I'm old). When meeting people through Yahoo Personals was still considered super risky. My sisters yelled at me. My co-workers thought he was going to be an ax murderer. My roommate and best friend made me have him pick me up at our apartment so they could identify him in case I came up missing. We've been married for 18 years so I guess I lucked out.

    F) I can't wait to hear about the first date!

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    1. You know, your friends could still be right and you're in the middle of a really (really) long con. BE EVER VIGILANT!

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    2. Funny story - the first time we went camping was after we'd seen the Blair Witch Project. By this time we'd introduced his best friend to someone I went to college with who would later become my best friend. The boys went up a day early and she and drove up together. The campground is in a state forest and you have to drive 6 miles down a dirt two-track to get there. All I could think about was that stupid movie! At one point she commented to me that only virgins get sacrificed . . .He ended up proposing that weekend - spelled it out in driftwood on the beach :). Not a 12-days of Christmas but definitely a keeper.

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    3. D.) Wait a minute, now! I am actually planning to make an actual plan to hang out with you next time I am in Michigan with my parents! So... wait, is this about when I was in Chicago last weekend? That was the craziest trip, listen I came in on the train and got to Chicago at 2 in the afternoon, we hung out, went to the concert, then I left Chicago the next day at 2 - so I was there for exactly 24 hours! AND I didn't realize you were in a part of Michigan that was that close to Chicago. So I apologize, and will send you a detailed itinerary any time I travel from now on.
      Ok, kidding about that last part. But serious that I will let you know when I am coming to Michigan so we can meet up somewhere!

      I WILL HANG OUT WITH STRANGERS ANY TIME because I have no Stranger Danger concept. My mother was actually just commiserating with my college roommate about how she failed me in this. I always have absolute belief in everyone's goodness.

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    4. Okay - I forgive you - and yeah - I'm about 3 hours from Chicago :).

      I also have NO fear of strangers - clearly - I met my husband through Yahoo Personals . . .

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    5. In listening to the Dirty John Podcast I came away with this very important nugget of distinction - "Online Dating: some people get married, some people get murdered"

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    6. Well - as Kjax noted - we're not necessarily in the clear yet!

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  9. YEAHYEAHYEAH!! I have been waiting for this. I think your love story should be made into a Christmas Hallmark movie! You two make my heart happy! (Sorry for all the !!!!! This post is just that exciting)

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    1. OMG yes! Quite frankly I think Eli's entire life could easily be an ABC sit com though

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    2. I need to start swearing more so I can get bumped to HBO.

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    3. NOOOO - Then I'd have to pay for HBO!

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    4. Oh Please yes! The Hallmark Movie! The sitcom... maybe a Hulu original series?

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  10. A while ago you made a casual reference to the fact that, “I met Skylar because he had a layover in the Salt Lake Airport” and I have wanted details to how this happened ever since. Thank you for indulging!

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    1. SAME! And it's so much better than I thought!!

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  11. This is such a sweet story. If you weren't a full-time lawyer and Skylar wasn't a full-time doctor (power couple!!), I'd suggest you both spend a lot of time giving this a great screen treatment. With even a little part for your adopted child Casper. There has to be a part for Casper.

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  12. DAMMIT ELI! I had no intention of crying in public today and I thought I was safe when I saw the first two photos in your post, but noooooo, damn onion ninjas sneaking in here. Love is hard, and I've always been exceptionally bad at it, and I'm so happy for you but this story scared me because romantic love is scary to me.

    Last week after another flirtation went completely sideways (news flash, he turned out to be 15 years younger than me AND has a perfectly adorable girlfriend, he was just looking for "motherly" companionship *facepalm*) I decided that 2019, the year that I turn 40, is going to be the year that I stop looking for love with someone else altogether and just save that very small last shred of dignity that I have. And then you post this. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

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    Replies
    1. Onion ninjas! Haaaaaaa! Love.

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    2. awww, Suzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
      Sorry you feel like this.
      Hang in there <3

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    3. Fan Girl, don't feel sorry, it is what it is. I'm bad at love and relationships and flirting and dating, it's just the way I am. It's easier to have no expectations, than to have expectations and be crushed when you find out you are that person's last priority, or worse a joke to them. Being alone is just easier.

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    4. Hey,
      There is NOTHING wrong with being on your own. Thing that makes me pretty darn sad is that somehow we get the idea that there is...
      It's obvious that you are an amazing person. Make sure you believe that!

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  13. I love that his Tinder pic is covered in people wearing Wisconsin Badgers shirts, brats, and beer.

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  14. Literally cried sitting in the chiropractor's office and telling the receptionist "no our old dog didn't die" and made her read the article. Now she's crying. You two are amazing. Ok AHHHMAAAAAZING!

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  15. It's a good thing you can't resist a man in a trucker hat Eli! Seriously though this is the sweetest story ever!

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  16. I love to hear about people meeting on dating sites! I met my husband on LOVE@AOL almost 18 years ago.We went on a date that the only money spent was on a shared big gulp. Got pulled over by a cop, got lost, and I thought he was going to murder me at some point. We met Saturday, he moved in Monday, we were engaged on Wednesday, and married 4 months later.

    Congratulations to both of you! Even though I don't know you - I feel like I do because of this blog and your social media posts. Thank you for all the happiness you have provided to me - and may that happiness always follow you and Skyler!

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    1. My jaw actually dropped while reading your timeline.

      So glad it worked out and you were the in the marriage, not murder category.

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  17. Love this! I said I love you to my hubs via Nokia cell phone analogue text message, while he was on a break from his construction job... using a port-a-potty...in a different state. So you guys win.

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  18. Congratulations! I am so happy for you guys and I love that you shared it with us. Makes you believe in fate! Just those few minutes of the layover changed your worlds!

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  19. Omg divine intervention works for the gays too!! This made me ahhhh out loud.

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  20. Wait, so you're a lesbian?

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    Replies
    1. Every day of the week and twice on Saturdays.

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    2. He's a circa 1990 British Presbyterian lesbian.

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  21. Congratulations. Can't wait to read about the wedding planning shenanigans.

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  22. Ya'll are so cute, and I don't even say ya'll. Except that I live in Arkansas and do say ya'll. But still. totes adorb. Congratulations. May your marriage be as blessed as I am that I discovered your blog.

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  23. Beautiful beautiful story - thanks for sharing with us strangers!

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  24. Beautiful! I laughed and I cried :) Also cliff hanger much?! Now I'm sitting here waiting for the first date story.

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  25. It is weird how love happens, but when it happens, and you know it is right, it is a gift unlike any other. Congratulations!

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  26. I started out thinking, "awwwwwww" (as in 'how sweet')
    Then my heart melted.

    This is an amazing story and I'm so glad you found each other.

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  27. I started out thinking, "awwwwwww" (as in 'how sweet')
    Then my heart melted.

    This is an amazing story and I'm so glad you found each other.

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  28. Eli, I've been a reader since 2011. I don't know you personally- only as well as we Strangers do - but I remember hoping one day you could come out,& have this happiness you so deserve. I'm so happy for you two! Much love.

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