The Story *Warning!* this is another long one…

I grew up in North Dakota and my entire immediate family still lives in North Dakota – my dad would never live anywhere else. If you know anything about ND (which a lot of people don’t; I’ve met people who think it’s part of Canada…), then you know people population is sparse and spread out. Also, we don’t get very diverse in ND – you mainly have your white people of Norwegian heritage or your white people of German heritage with a sprinkling of Native Americans and perhaps one or two African Americans. My family is of the white German variety which that, plus my disposition, earned me the nickname ‘Hitler’ at some point during my late grade school years – but that my snarky readers is not part of this story.

One of the questions I frequently get when people learn I am from ND is, “How did you end up here?” The short answer is M. and that, readers, is what this story is about.

I graduated from high school in a class of 42 people, most of which I had known since kindergarten. This means I never learned how to properly socialize and meet people because I never had to do that. Dating was also a big unknown (and really, still is) because I had a guy start flirting with me in my freshman algebra class and ended up dating him for the next 4 years.

My parents hated this guy. Every time they saw him they probably thought, “Bleck,” and a whole lot of other not-nice things, so we will call him Bleck. Of course, my parents were right about Bleck, but I really did not start seeing that until my junior year of high school and by that time I was already wearing an engagement ring from him (but not in sight of my parents). Bleck was a year older than me, so he was not in school my senior year. I really didn’t like Bleck much by this time, but we were one of the longest standing relationships at the school and in my 17 year old mind, that was pretty cool. Plus, I didn’t have to see Bleck all day, so that was pretty cool too.

When I went to college I decided on a school 5 hours away from my hometown (still in ND). My parents weren’t too happy about this. I am their oldest and they’d never had a child leave the nest. Plus, I’ve always harbored the feeling that I am my dad’s favorite even though he would never say that. So it was hard on my parents, but I later found out that they had agreed to the 5 hour away school in the hopes that the separation would lead me to break up with Bleck. Since I was already not liking him so much, being out of my high school really broke the only string holding me to Bleck – the length of our relationship being ‘cool.’ I broke up with Bleck about 2 months into my first year of college. Bleck really didn’t get it for another 2 or 3 months, but that’s not central to this story.

Now I was left 5 hours away from home and the only person I knew was my roommate who was my on and off again best friend from home. Since I wasn’t big on the social scene, I spent a good amount of time in my dorm room. And I had a computer in my dorm room and that computer was connected to the internet! The internet was still a baby when I first entered college. It was especially new to me. I didn’t have time to sit at a computer when I was in high school – I was out with friends and Bleck. My sister, though, she was at home learning all about the internet and joining chat rooms.

I decided to check out these chat rooms and the easiest way to do that was to join ones my sister was a member of. She had joined a group called ‘Teenchat’ which was created by none other than M. and some of his online friends. This is where I met M. – in a virtual world of text.

I met a lot of people, well, guys, in these chat rooms. In fact, it is even how I met a guy right on the same college campus I was living on! Now this virtual world was very new to me and just didn’t seem quite real. These people typing things onto my screen weren’t real people – I couldn’t see them, we couldn’t go out for a nice dinner and a movie… Well, that was true of all of them except Campus Guy.

Now while I was ‘meeting’ all these people online, M. and I both had significant others. Well, to be truthful, I had several people in that short time frame I sort of called ‘significant others.’ There was Bleck for awhile, then some guy in Washington state who told me he was 19 but turned out to be more like 35, there was a guy in Texas, and there was Campus Guy. Now the most serious out of the herd at the time I was starting to really chat with M. were Texas and Campus Guy. Texas was good looking, nice, but not real. Campus Guy was kind of dorky, but he was real and I could go out on actual dates with him. He even took me to a Prince concert!

Now M. knew about Texas because we were all part of the same chat room, but Texas and M. didn’t know about the others and certainly didn’t know about Campus Guy whom I had met in a ND-based chat room. When my ‘relationship’ with Texas started falling apart M. was there for me. At the same time his ‘relationship’ with whoever he was ‘dating’ also started falling apart and I was there for him. By the end of my first year of college M. and I were ‘together.’ (But for me, some guy living thousands of miles away in another state was not real.)

Unfortunately, Campus Guy was also lurking around and one day decided to check out the other chat rooms I was visiting.Bad idea, Campus Guy. He found out about M. who I was online dating and M. found out about Campus Guy who I was in-real life dating (even though I liked M. much more than Campus Guy, he was still thousands of miles away and not a real person). Within minutes of them talking and finding out all my insipid hideousness, I had a call from M. and while I was on the phone trying to explain myself, Campus Guy showed up at my dorm room door.

Now there was a dose of reality for me. While I may not have seen M. as a totally real person, he certainly saw me as a real person whom he expected to meet in real life and who he thought was his exclusive girlfriend. I stayed on the phone with M., sitting on my bean bag with a blanket over my head and sent my roommate out to deal with Campus Guy. Campus Guy was crying and roommate really didn’t want to go out in the hall with him, but I insisted (after all, I was once Hitler, right?).

I don’t remember all the sordid details, but I ended up breaking up with Campus Guy and pledging myself to this not real guy thousands of miles away. M. and I chatted online and on the phone many more times before we got to January of my first year of college when he and buddy drove those thousands of miles so M. could meet me in person.

They arrived very, very early on a Saturday morning. My first real date with M. was breakfast at Denny’s and his driving buddy was there too. We spent the day together after ditching driving buddy with my roommate and that evening M. presented me with a ring and asked me to marry him. I said yes.

And if you have been following my very vague timeline throughout this story, you will know M. and I knew each other all of 4 months (and all that ‘knowing’ was via the internet) before he popped the question. But when you only have words between two people they actually get to know each other very well – given they are telling each other the truth, which we were (minus my little Campus Guy episode). Somehow we knew this was right – and we must have been correct because that was over 10 years ago.

M. and his buddy had to leave again on Sunday – it was just a weekend trip, they both had to get back to their own college courses. They pushed M.’s little Chevy S-10 to it’s limits that weekend, driving up to see me and then high-tailing it home again.

I told my parents I was engaged to M. via email. I knew they had hated Bleck, I didn’t know how they would feel about some guy I met on the internet. In March we decided to use our spring breaks to travel and meet each other’s parents. M. came to ND first, traveling by train this time and getting mugged to boot. He met me in my college town and we drove the 5 hours to my hometown in my orange Ford Pinto. I don’t remember much about the visit except that it was cold, M. hated the weather, and we had to drive back to my college town to catch the train to M.’s home state in a blizzard. I had to do all the driving in ND because my Pinto was a manual shift and M. couldn’t drive it. But then again, I grew up in ND. This was not my first time driving in a blizzard.

I don’t remember much about the train ride or meeting M.’s parents either, except the very vaguest details. I remember how green everything was when we arrived. I remember M.’s mom giving me a hug which was strange for me since I rarely hugged my own parents. I remember when we got to M.’s parents house it was late at night and on our way up to the bedrooms, I remember hearing M.’s dad whisper to M. that we were not sharing a bed.

In May as we both ended our college courses, M. moved to ND. We got a very, very small apartment together near campus. The original plan was we would be married in July of the following year, finish our college degrees in ND, then decide what to do from there. Well, in that year M. lived in ND before we got married it became very apparent his parents could not stand being so separated from their youngest child and only son. M.’s dad told us he would help us get a house if we moved to M.’s home state once we were married.

We were living in an apartment not much bigger than the office I am currently working in, so of course a house was very appealing to me. Also, I was only 20 years old, separation from my family didn’t seem like a big deal. So, about a year and a half after meeting online, M. and I were married and had moved back to his home state to live in a small house owned by M.’s grandmother.

And that my readers, is the long answer to “How did you end up here?”
And, just because this was probably the most personal post I’ve written to date, I’m going to finish with just a little current day snarky – a situation that earned the ‘Big Eye Roll.’

Yesterday as I was walking down the office hall I was stopped by a coworker. Now, I do like the people I currently work with, but definitely like some less than others. This was a ‘I like you pretty much least of all’ person. She stops me and says, “I have a personal computer questions for you.” Now when my mind heard the word ‘personal’ in there it started screaming “DO NOT ASK ME A PERSONAL QUESTION!!” even before the word ‘computer’ came out of her mouth. She told me her Facebook page wouldn’t load at home but everything else works just fine. She also went on about some Java script not working or some such thing.

Now, I know a little about computers (mostly knowledge self-taught or picked up from M.), however I do not know much about scripts, Java, the inner workings of the internet, and I certainly cannot diagnose a computer problem while standing in the hall at work. Plus, I have heard of Facebook, but not once have I ventured to that website or even seen a screenshot of it. For goodness sake, that is a social website – what purpose would I have there?!

I tried to be nice and told coworker I could not help her, that I know nothing about Facebook or why it’s not working on her home computer. At the same time I really wanted to yell at her and tell her while we work together and are cordial most of the time, we’re really not friends, and I really don’t like talking to you, so there. I thought telling her I didn’t know the solution would send her on her way down the hall, but no. She then wanted to know what I thought she should do. I don’t know – Google it? I directed her to another coworker (sorry other coworker) who I thought might have some kind of help for her. And that finally ended it. I waited until she was ahead of me in the hall, but she most definitely got a big eye roll for that little interaction!


1 Comment

  1. MommaMel said,

    May 21, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    That’s a great story. Robb and I actually met online too. He had come down here to start his master’s program and we ended up IMing. He, of course, wanted to meet right away, but I held out. We finally met up and went on a date–when I broke my elbow. We don’t tell too many people that story because when we met, online dating just wasn’t what it is today. Not that’s been that long ago, but still. It’s funny how things work out.

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