Back in 2002, when I was a ripe 14 years old, I was just starting to get very familiar with the internet and quickly became super excited about the idea of being able to have friends all over the world without having to travel. I frequented chatrooms and a site devoted to Degrassi: The Next Generation (my favorite TV show at the time). At some point, somewhere along the way, someone mentioned go check out Classface, so I did.
I started chit chatting with people and forming small, fleeting friendships. I began connecting with friends of these friends and overall enjoying myself. A few of us exchanged phone numbers and started texting and talking on the phone. Within maybe a year or so, I think we all stopped using Classface and moved over to Myspace, as they gained popularity and Classface fell by the wayside. One of the people I remember speaking to the most was Paul. We laughed and joked about ridiculous things. We vented about siblings, parents, relationships (or lack thereof). Sometimes we’d get in a really talkative mood and carry on the same conversation for days at a time. Others, we’d go months without speaking. We still kept in touch, though.
In 2006, many of us made the shift from Myspace to Facebook, and many of my same friendships followed. Most of us were graduating high school and going in completely different directions with our lives—some college, some traveling, some working, some unsure. Aside from a little casual conversation every now and again or comments on people’s pictures or pages for birthdays, I wasn’t particularly close with anyone I didn’t know in real life, but social media gave me the ability to still get to check in at random with people, and still feel like I was a part of their lives, even if we didn’t speak regularly.
Between 2006-2011, a lot happened in my life. TLDR version; friendships came and went, I had joined the Navy, moved away from home, gotten married, had a child, later separated from said husband, and lost my dad.
Losing my dad was, perhaps, one of the most pivotal moments in our beginning, because during the grieving period is when Paul stepped in and rescued my healing heart. We spent so many nights talking, texting, him being my (virtual) shoulder to lean on, and an overall non-judging, always listening friend. After a couple months of this, we had the idea to meet in person for the first time since “meeting” 9 years prior. The idea felt wild, a good idea, but also not one…scary. We set no expectations. We just wanted to finally meet. Never did I imagine that I’d never turn back.
In November 2011, Paul came to Florida to visit me for Thanksgiving. I remember telling coworkers and friends a bazillion times, just in case this dude was gonna kidnap me or something, haha. I drove to the airport to meet him on the night he arrived (I believe it was the 21st). My heart raced as I pulled up. I called him. He told me he was outside. I looked around. I saw him. I think. Wait, yes that was him. I contemplated speeding off. Instead, I took off my seatbelt, wiped my sweaty palms and walked toward him.
My first thoughts were “wow, he’s real,” “he’s super tall or I’m super short,” and “he’s actually cute!” I find the latter to be the most hilarious because I had never really felt much physical attraction to Paul. I was interested more in his mind, conversation, and shared interests. I didn’t realize he was a genuinely handsome guy until I saw him in person, and it was a bit shocking, to be honest! Maybe shallow of young me, but I guess that’s how we are sometimes. *shrugs*
We nervously hugged and then got in the car, small-talking all the way to my apartment because we were both nervous. We quickly warmed up to one another….
The few days we got to spend with one another were the best days I’d had in a very long time. We visited St. Augustine and walked around with my siblings (who loved him and thought he was so funny and cool). Before leaving, he had the chance to briefly meet young Lay (she was 2.5). I don’t think she remembers that anymore, but she took to Paul pretty well. On Thanksgiving, we decided to officially recognize ourself as a couple, and started calling one another boyfriend and girlfriend. From then until June 2013, when I moved to Massachusetts, our relationship was held together by Skype calls multiple times a day, lots of pics and texts, tons of phone calls and voicemails (I still have them all, by the way!), and seeing one another every couple months. I fell more and more in love with him and the idea of a life together forever became more and more of a reality.
When I moved in to his tiny apartment with my daughter, I started to think I’d made a bad decision. There were so many adjustments that we both needed to get through: letting go of memories and hurt of past relationships and actions of exes, myself adjusting to no longer being active duty & being in an entirely new state, sharing space with a significant other again, and my having to start sharing parenting with someone. There were lots of tiny arguments, but at the end of the day, we talked it out and worked it out. Talking it out and working it out is how we got to where we are now.
In November 2014, we found out we were pregnant and then experienced the loss of our niece, Nickerah, a month later. In January 2015, we ended up losing our daughter, Zoe, due to complications of Turner Syndrome. These two major losses for our family back-to-back reaffirmed my love for Paul and having him to go through these losses with made me certain I’d spend the rest of my life with him. After a long (to us) 7 months, we finally conceived our son and started talking a lot more of our future.
Easter Sunday of 2017, Paul finally proposed!! We originally planned for a September wedding next year, but wondered why wait, and decided on October 28 the same year! Our ceremony was small and intimate with only our closest friends and families at a local pond. We had a low key, candlelit BBQ at our house afterwards, and it felt like the most amazing night. I had finally married the man of my dreams!!
People often ask me about how we met and are shocked that everything we have built all spawned from social media before social media was even a real thing. But I like to think it’s not about how we met…it’s about how we have held on. We trust & we are patient with one another. We compromise & we change when we need to. We are honest, even when it hurts to be. We listen & we vent. We support & encourage each other to chase dreams. We appreciate one another. We cherish one another. And we love…we love through the good, the bad, through everything.
So those who have always wondered how I met my husband but never got the chance to hear the story, here you have it! Check out Paul’s post to hear our story from his perspective and see a couple of our lil baby relationship photos below 🤣 Stop by again on our anniversary (10/28) for new pics and life updates!
Originally published 10/29/2017