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?"
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 façade 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