And so the kids and I were living in a month-to-month rental, all shacked up together. The apartment was nastyyyyy. I scrubbed it with so much bleach the week we moved in that I literally had no fingerprints. I could have committed any number of crimes and been untracable. Horrific.
It was a particularly brutal time of transition. I was having a hard time balancing it all -- parenting, a newborn, three toddlers, Lola's early intervention services, working full-time, renovating the house, ex-wifing. It felt like the sky was falling most days.
My brother and his girlfriend of five years broke up that month, and he was pretty broken over it all. I set up a Match.com profile for him to help him get over the whole thing. I thought if he just got back out there, he'd regain some confidence and move on. Daily we checked in and he told me about the funny (and sometimes, insane) messages he was getting. He was putting himself out there and it was pretty brutal to handle rejection after a breakup.
A few weeks into it he convinced me that I needed to be on Match with him. It was my fault he was online, and the least I could do was be his partner in crime. So I made an account. Added pictures. Wrote a profile. And never paid.
I have never been on a date. I met my exhusband when I was 21 and we were in college. Logic and time took us through the usual steps – marriage, a house, kids. I’d write down my interests, but they’d all be a façade right now. The truth is that I’ve had my head down, wearing the title of wife and mom for so many years that I have forgotten to just be me. I had a life before. But this space that I am in now is new, unexpected, and certainly wasn’t part of the plan. I’m learning not to plan, and instead be in the moment, be grateful for what is, rather than reticent for what isn’t. I guess I joined here to start figuring out who I am again, and to see what moving on might look like.In the first day I received over 800 messages. Chum in the water. It was overwhelming, and because I didn't pay for the account, I couldn't read any of them.
After a particularly harrowing day with the kids and Joe, my brother convinced me to go to the mommy juice store, buy a bottle of wine, pay for my damn Match account and call him. We'd get sauced and read the messages together. There were some gems to sort through. The day was January 27, and in that pile of messages was one from Eric.
My profile, my story, was his. The parallels between our marriages, our divorces, our lives was uncanny. (To this day, it is still so uncanny.) So I wrote him back. And he wrote me back. And I wrote him back.
Somewhere in our first week of chatting he asked me out on a real date. Now, mind you, I had never been on a real date. Certainly never as an adult. So in January, when this beautiful man asked me out, I told him the first time I was available was the first or second week...in March.
Later that week my friend Leslie came over to help me paint the mint green house. I showed her Eric's pictures. Questioned whether he could really be that cute, or if the pictures were a fluke. She asked me if we were going to meet, and I told her about our date (in March.) And the look on her face said it all.
"I blew it, didn't I?"
She just blinked.
I had no idea. Truly, I was so overwhelmed. And so busy. And was still wearing maternity clothes -- not because I couldn't fit into my regular clothes (hellooooo, divorce diet) -- but because all of my clothes were in boxes in a storage unit. And I felt like such a loser for not knowing how this all worked.
But he was willing to wait to meet me, and in the meantime we kept talking. We exchanged phone numbers and began text messaging each other.
I was a smitten kitten from the start.
We played 20 questions all day long. Some were hard questions. Some were playful. Some were silly. It was like speed dating...on cocaine. I mean we got to know each other FAST. And the more we found out, the more consumed we became with learning more about the other person.
Our text messaging quickly became 20 questions throughout the day, sending each other little video messages in the morning and throughout the day, talking on the phone at night. We'd talk from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. every night, literally falling asleep on the phone together, and this went on for weeks. We never ran out of things to talk about, to ask about, to share, to discuss.
And we still hadn't met.
It got to the point where we couldn't wait until March to meet. So he switched his flight itenerary for a work conference and flew in from Vegas on a red eye, on a Wednesday (February 18). And then drove from Boston Logan to New York, without sleeping, so that he could take me on a date.
I got a sitter, and put myself together and drove to meet this man that I was pretty sure I loved before I had ever truly met. The text messaging as I was driving to meet him...my god, we were both so nervous and giddy and ANXIOUS.
I was late, I'm always late. He was early, he's always early.
He had to change his shirt before he got there because his hands were shaking so badly that he had spilled coffee all over himself on his way to our first date spot.
I parked my car and walked through downtown Saratoga, texting him that I was on my way in. I walked through the door, and there he was sitting, facing the door, at the first hightop. And he was beautiful.
He stood up when he saw me, and we hugged, both shaking. This man that I already knew. I mean I KNEW, but had never known, and there he was in front of me. In real life.
We sat down and ordered drinks and he sat there smiling a goofy smile NOT SAYING A WORD (which I have come to learn is *highly* unusual) and when I get nervous I talk...a lot. So I talked and talked and talked to fill space. And I remember thinking, oh my god, this is going horribly. I mean I am talking, and he's just staring at me. Stop talking, Niki. STOP TALKING.
About forty-five minutes in, he joined the conversation. We had drinks, we had dinner, and then it was time to leave. I mean the place was literally closing down, and it was time to leave. (You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here....)
We stood up to walk out and this man was going to give me a hug and leave it at that. After weeks of anticipation and excitement, A HUG. And with that, I did something I have never done in my whole life. I grabbed him and I kissed him, hard, passionately, excitedly (in public! with a room full of people watching) I made the frigging first move.
My goodness. I am bold in my middle age.
We talked that night, again, until almost 5 in the morning. Our first real date. And I never wanted it to end. (Thankfully, it hasn't.)
I don't know how I ended up here. A year ago I was packing up my forever house and dismantling my life, starting over again as a single mom of four. If you would have told me this is where I'd be 12 months later, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are.
There are so many reasons that I love this man. Every day, I find another reason. He is without a doubt, my perfect person, the love of my lifetime, and the thing I have been missing. And last week, he asked me to be his wife (more on that later.)
I couldn't have written it better if I tried.