July 8, 2004

Up, is that you? Part 1

The story of how Wendy and I met is an interesting one. Maybe only interesting to us, but then most of what I'm writing about here is only interesting to me despite that other people are evidently finding it to be of some small interest to themselves. (Which fascinates me, but in a good way.)

I like our story not only because of the impact meeting her has had on my life, but also because now that I know her more intimately I know what a stretch it was for her to reach out in the way she did. I've come to realize just how reserved she can be with others, but with me she is quite bold. That made an impression on me then because it was usually me being bold in relationships. Turns out I like it the other way around too. Who knew? We now take turns being bold, depending on who has the strength to do so at the moment boldness is required.

So I'm going to document the Tale of Wendy & Suzanne herein. And I get to tell this from my perspective since it is my story. I may ask Wendy to tell the same tale from her perspective. It could be quite amusing to then compare the versions. Well amusing to us anyway. It's far too long to recount in one post and I know I can't sit still long enough to type it all at once, so I'm going to break it up. Soap opera style, except without the fake drama. I'll not pepper it with the gratuitous sex scenes often found on daytime TV, preferring to savor those intimate memories privately. I'm sure you'll be able to handle the disappointment.

Enough of the intro.... on to Part 1!

**fade back in time**

I was single. And it was good. The Boy and I had recently relocated back to Mount Vernon, the first real move where he had to help pack and lift and carry and haul. The last time we had moved, I was still packing and lifting and carrying and hauling him as he wasn't nearly grown enough to do so himself. He would be starting 8th grade in the fall, his first year in public school. Now if you don't know any kids of that age, you need to know that is the age when socializing with one's friends begins to take complete precedence over one's family (it's one of the reasons we moved, but that's a different chapter). While I still spent quite a bit of time enjoying The Boy entertaining his friends at our house, I also spent a great deal of time ferrying him hither and yon to meet the demands of his vigorous social calendar.

(Really. I'm not getting off topic. Setting the background is all.)

So I was single. And The Boy didn't need his old mom for companionship much anymore. *sigh* I decided perhaps I would again dip my toes into the dating scene. As there were not too many single lesbians (or for that matter ANY lesbians) hanging around the suburban mother crowd I'd been part of for years, I began considering my options.

I had never really dated in the traditional sense of dating. Who had time for that? I didn't fall into the stereotypical lesbian-second-date-moving-van category either. I had The Boy to consider and he came first. I was not about to have a string of women flowing in and out of my bedroom and our lives. To me, offering a child stability at home is almost as vital as salt is to Wendy. So I was cautious. And would take my time introducing my son to anyone I may happen to date. That would be a privilege those prospective women would have to earn. I had identified several very important qualities that would have to be part of any woman I would ever date more than once.

In no particular order, she would have to:
  1. be able to write intelligently, using complete sentences in actual paragraphs. Vocabulary and proper spelling would be essential.
  2. have a good relationship with her family, particularly her mother and father.
  3. like books. And enjoy laying around reading them. And be able to intelligently discuss their contents.
  4. enjoy sex (gratuitous or otherwise!).
  5. be a sports fan. Football and baseball specifically. It would be a plus if she were a Redskins fan. Ice hockey and basketball would kinda be minuses.
  6. love pets and all the headache and joy that come with having them.
  7. love kids and all the headache and joy that come with having them.
  8. appreciate suburban life.
  9. have a sense of humor. Preferably a sharp one.
  10. like herself.
I was not too picky. Just selective. And that was just fine. I know what I like and what I need---or maybe I should say I know what I DON'T need, which can truly be just as relevant.

See I used to be the "rescuer" sort, where I'd try to fill in the gaps for people who weren't quite complete. Got a problem? Oh no problem at all! Let me fix it for you! I'll surround you with my love and affection and show you just how wonderful life can be! Yeesh. While my heart may have been in the right place, that approach pretty much guaranteed relationship failure. So no more rescuing for me. This time around, it would be on an equal ground or I'd just stay single. I don't mean to sound pompous, but I had come to realize I was a pretty hot commodity in the lesbian market: a stable and sane individual. Actually, that made me a hot commodity in any dating market, not just that of the lesbian variety but I was not interested in just any old dating market.

Internet dating was just gaining a foothold in modern romance. That approach appealed to me greatly for a number of reasons. Email correspondence would be a useful screening tool. I would be able to discern her writing ability (and all things that go with such ability) merely by reading an email. And I could do it on my own time, when my schedule permitted.

I created a screenname exclusively for this adventure: UpUpUpUp, intended to convey my upbeat and positive nature. I penned and posted my first personal ad, sappily describing what I was looking for in a wife. Yeah I know. Blech. But hey, I was new at this. And I included a favorite quote from a Tori Amos song: "In a sense, he said, you're alone here. So if you jump, you best jump far." (This quote actually became key in the process, although I did not know it would then.)

And the deluge of emails began. My inbox starting filling up so rapidly it was almost alarming. There was just not time to correspond with everyone who replied to my ad, but I always gave at least a minimal reply even to those who clearly did not possess even one quality from my list. That's when I formulated some other loose requirements, adding geographic and age factors to my screening process. With those that passed the initial screening, I made dates for coffee. In the next few months, I drank quite a bit of coffee with strangers. And met some interesting women of all different shapes, personalities and life circumstance. But I hadn't met Ms. Forever....

So I posted a new ad under a different screenname, Words Rock, using a different approach: humor. But I tagged my signature with the same Tori Amos quote. Again the email deluge began. Some of the same respondents replied to my new ad with the exact same reply they had used for my first ad! Incredible creativity. Not!

But one repeat respondent made me literally throw my head back and laugh out loud. It was a one-liner that read simply "Up, is that you?"

Wow. In-ter-esting. Pleasing even. Keep in mind the two separate ads were posted under different screennames months apart written in completely different styles from one another. Really. They were like Night and Day. Jeckle and Hyde. Sun and Moon. Yin and Yang even. Sap and Humor. I think you get it.

I had started a file of responses to my first ad. This reply had me pawing through papers to find this woman's first email. As I re-read it, I was reminded why I had not really followed up on it. She lived in Rockville, about an hour away over heavily trafficked freeways. And she was only 28 (I was 35 at the time) which seemed to me an awfully large age gap. But now I was intrigued. She was obviously brighter than most, having made the connection based on my use of the same quote. Good attention to detail. Her first email was cohesively written, concise yet informative, good sentence structure and grammar. She had appealed to me the first time based on those characteristics, but the age and geography warned me away. Now I had no choice. I was compelled to write back. Curiosity does that to me. We began corresponding and chatting online frequently. And so I made the acquaintance of Wendy. The adventure had begun.

.... to be continued


Melodee said...

I need Part 2. Immediately.

Udge said...

(chanting) We - want - part - two! - We - want - part - two!

Eyes for Lies said...

What a great story. I enjoyed both your perspective and Wendy's.

My hubby and I recalled our beginning this weekend. We met *twice* prior to actually meeting -- which we both remembered after we had met -- and we didn't know it was the other until we discuss the circumstances and we each had the same memory -- and realized we both fit the description of the "other person". It was too weird for us! Twice before finally "meeting".

Isn't that weird? And we lived in the exact same apartment -- a few years a part which we discovered on our first date.

Sometimes you have to wonder about destiny, don't you? It's like someone is trying to push you two together -- and you don't realize it. You needed another knock at your door (e-mail) as did we.