We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash.
Meet Single Christians
My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site.
We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.”
We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the tiny hole in the armpit. I’ve forgotten what you wore, but never the green of your eyes.
Things moved fast.
I flew down just before Christmas and met your family. They told you they loved me after the first night of playing board games and listening to my Spongebob Squarepants imitation.
We met up a month later in Chicago, both of us getting lost trying to find one another. We sipped vanilla chai tea, fixed a flat in the gas station parking lot, planned our next meeting before kissing goodbye.
When my long-term substitute teaching job ended in Michigan, I took one in Ohio so I could be closer to you. We shared dinners in your mother’s kitchen, leaned into each other in the stands at the Reds’ game, held hands at Newport on the Levee.
On Super Bowl Sunday, you called my dad on the phone, asked his blessing on the marriage proposal you had planned during our hike that afternoon.
Five months later, at his wedding toast to us, he told you there was no instruction manual, and there were no refunds. And he meant it.
We honeymooned in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort that some would call a perfect vacation destination. We giggled as the electronically piped-in sounds of “nature” accompanied us along resort trails and decided over a game of 500 Rummy that we’d stick to freshwater lakes and mosquitoes. We returned to the US and settled into our first home in the Northwoods of Michigan.
That winter, we found out who we’d actually married.
I, the neat freak, germaphobic, private, independent woman did not exactly mesh with you, the relaxed, messy, forgetful boy whose mama cooked and laundered and cleaned up after him until the day we married.
Are you going to help me fold these towels?
You had been under the impression that a wife was a maid, and marriage a lifelong sex-fest.
I had been under the impression that a husband was someone who unclogged drains, and marriage meant someone else would help pay the bills for the clothes I wanted to buy and trips I wanted to take.
When do you think you might mow the lawn?
Before we had a chance to grow together, we grew apart. We tried lighting a fire, but we had no kindling. Hell, we didn’t even have a spark.
I’m with teenagers all day long at work — I don’t want to come home to one. Turn off the video games and pick up your socks.
We were one year in, and already over each other.
I’m going for a walk. Alone.
Other voices grew louder.
Your people decided they didn’t care much for me after all. I was a nag. All I wanted to do was yank your chain.
My people decided they didn’t care for you either. You couldn’t be counted on. You took little initiative in relationships or life.
Somehow, despite the fact that no one really cared for anyone, the two of us managed to make a baby.
I crawled back into bed one morning, positive pregnancy test in my clammy hands and you asleep beside me, deliberating about how to tell you the news. I was relieved you were, or at least pretended you were, happy.
The next months were a whirlwind of nursery painting (yellow) and ultrasounds (surprise, please!) and hormones (pass the Oreos).
I read every baby book I could get my hands on and relayed the highlights to you at the end of the day. What I hoped would make me more prepared just made me terrified of things like listeria and Group B strep and umbilical cord prolapse.