The Story of How I Met My Husband
I never saw the movie "Sliding Doors" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, but I understand the premise of the plot line to be one that explores the outcomes of her life had one event happened differently. While I try not to overthink things, especially hypotheticals about life, this idea of one subtle change impacting the entire trajectory of one's life lingers in my imagination. Like pulling the lever in a pinball machine, one switch can send the ball on a whole different path.
The romantic hopeful in me believes that the Universe would have brought my husband, Drew, and I, together no matter what. But the realistic pragmatist in me says, ummm, yeah right. Considering the fact that we lived 3,000 miles apart from each other, are 13 years different in age, and (at the time) had very few reasons for our paths to cross, the fact that we actually did meet tells me I should give our romantic selves a big'ole high five.
The year was 2004. I was living in South Carolina at the time with one of my best girlfriends, Robyn. She was in college there and I was working at the local newspaper. We worked hard during the day, and played hard in the evenings. It was definitely one of the most social times of my life. What's the phrase? Footloose and fancy free? :)
One evening prior to going out, Robyn was on her computer chatting on Yahoo Instant Messenger. Anyone over the age of 30 should know what IM is. But for those who don't, basically it was text messaging on computers before mobile text messaging was a thing. Little chat windows contained threaded conversations with people who you really only knew by a screen name. Because this is the internet I'm not going publish our screen names, but suffice to say they weren't "Jody" or "Andrew."
As we were finishing getting ready, critiquing outfits and touching up make-up, I asked her who she was chatting with. "Oh that is that guy Drew I was telling you about," she replied. Robyn and Drew had met earlier that month at a Little People of America Conference that I did not attend. It's not uncommon for folks at LPA conferences to keep in touch afterward, because people travel from all over the country, and five days just isn't enough time to get to know someone.
"You should say hi," she suggested. She reminded me about how he was nice, friendly, cute and that we might have some stuff in common as we both are into graphic design. "Hmmm...." I thought, slightly skeptical. Afterall, I was on the tail-end of a string of dudes from Loserville. I didn't have much patience for another one to waste my time. On the other hand, I knew Robyn wouldn't steer me wrong. So I hopped on the computer and introduced myself.
To be honest, I don't remember what I said in those first conversations. I'm sure Drew does. His memory is much better about these details than mine. Thinking back to that time in my life I am sure I was friendly but "breezy." No need to be overeager as I had just learned when I read He's Just Not That Into You-- what I consider to be a must-have dating guidebook. Besides, Robyn and I needed to get to the club before they started charging a cover. No time to dilly-dally.
At some point in the days ahead we chatted more. I tested him on his knowledge of the major font categories, confident that there are only four. Only to have him correct me that there are at least six. We established our mutual love of competition and gaming, spending many hours playing gin, backgammon and cribbage online. A friendship was definitely forming.
Days turned into weeks, turned into months... and as they say, the rest is history. Our chatting evolved into phone calls, emails, some text messaging and then in person visits. Keep in mind that this is all before social media. The internet had come a long way, but text messaging was done on phones alpha-numerically. So if you wanted to say hello, it was 4-3-3-5-5-6. You aren't typing any long love notes with that method. There was no Facebook, or Twitter or any of the social platforms. If you had the bandwidth you could maybe video cam. But yikes, the image quality was so poor you might be inclined to just not.
Back to my thoughts about "Sliding Doors." What if Robyn and Drew didn't chat that night? What if I decided I didn't want to go out with her? What if Drew and Robyn hadn't hit it off enough to keep in touch? There are so many what-ifs. I know it is a somewhat futile rabbit hole to fall into. And yet, the way I think about it, there is a collision of randomness and exactness that defines the serendipity of it all. I suppose that is why I LOVE a movie I have seen (several times), "Serendipity" with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. What if he had never found the book with her phone number in it? But he did. And they met. And they had their happily ever after.
Just like I'm living mine.