I don’t have breast cancer. I am beyond grateful. I’ve seen what cancer has done to my loved ones. I honestly don’t know if I could have been as brave and strong facing something so terrifying.
I have to admit, this experience scared the ever loving shit out of me, and got me thinking about a lot of decisions I’ve made. Good and bad. Let me tell you something about my life of the last eight years. It hasn’t been all that great. It hasn’t been horrible but there are a lot of decisions where I’d like to request a do-over.
But the decision I’m going to tell you about tonight isn’t one of those moments I want to do-over.
I met my husband in the early part of 2006. Online of all places. A good friend of mine thought it was time for me to put myself out there. I didn’t feel it was that great of an idea, anonymous dating. No one had any idea if I was a lying, homicidal psychopath or a normal person (but they contacted me regardless, fools). I wasn’t really looking for a relationship. Nonetheless, I gave the online dating thing a try. Boy did is suck ass. Well, with the exception of my husband.
As I said I met my husband online. The timing was a bit off as another man had contacted me about the same time. A widower who had some…..well let’s just say some issues that I can blog about another time. Regardless, he had contacted me first, so I met up with him first and the limited exposure with him left me thinking I’ve had enough of men and their issues.
However, despite my feeling I should become the official cat woman on my street, the man that eventually became my husband had something that made me go back and continue responding to his emails. He was honest (in his emails) about his life situation (unlike the widower, more on that later) and seemed like the genuine article. After a long and agonizing internal debate, I agreed to meet him for coffee. But he was going to be my last date. Not a joke. After this guy, I was done with dating.
Day of the coffee date, I had a good friend call me with a drama filled need (even today I consider her my drama puppet). I contacted my future husband and explained I had a friend with an emergency and could we reschedule? He said, Look. If you don’t want to go out with me just say so. I was taken aback by his attitude (a bit on the snarly side), but decided to not rip his head off. Instead I reined in my inner bitch and said Let’s reschedule right now. I do want to meet you but I honestly have a friend in need and she (and not the strange man I met online) is my priority.
Side note….he met this friend later on and realized she is a bit nuts and could understand why I rescheduled. Now back to my story.
We met a few days later in front of a Starbucks after work one evening (shocker…Starbucks happens when you live in the Pacific Northwest). When I walked up and introduced myself, he looked like he’d been hit with a frozen halibut. I asked him what was wrong and he said You look like your profile picture.
Side note – here is where I was told once again, most women post pictures of themselves that are 10 or 20 years old. Apparently I was one of the rare women that actually look like my picture. Ladies? A tip regarding online dating? Have the integrity to post a recent picture of yourself. Especially if you plan on meeting the guy in person. Once again, back to my how we met story.
We hugged and started heading for coffee when he looked at me and asked “Are you by any chance hungry? Would you mind getting something to eat instead? I came here from the gym and I’m starved.” Little did he know I suffered from Grave’s Disease and I was always hungry. Foolish man. I told him that I just finished at the gym as well and I would love something to eat. Please note I was pulling a Monty Burns, finger-tip drumming, excellent move inside my head.
Next door to Starbucks was this little restaurant. They had room in the bar for us and we were seated right away. The server handed us the menus and said she’d be back with waters. My future husband (FH for short) looked at me and asked if I wanted some wine. I said I’d love some. He asked if I would pick it out, because he doesn’t know much about wines. I smiled and responded with Sure but my knowledge is limited and I mostly like red wines. FH told me that would be fine with him, then asked why I preferred reds over whites (wine racist). I explained I liked both but reds are my favorite due to how I was raised and what my family liked.
FH looked at me and asked How you were raised? I explained my family made a lot of their own wine, reds, and that I usually leaned towards those strong flavors. FH asked then about my ethnicity, because I’m sure my looks were confusing to him (at the time my hair was red and I looked like I should be slugging back barrels of Guinness, not drinking Merlot). I said my family is from…..(later he would tell me he was expecting me to say France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, anything but what came out of my mouth)…..Portugal. Well not really Portugal but a little island called Madeira.
FH looked completely astonished, as though I just told him I also liked to make out with junkies with open mouth sores. He started beating his own chest and declared Portuguese? You’re Portuguese??? I’m Portuguese!! I was born in the Azores!!!
At this point I realized I had been stalked by a psychopath and needed to remove myself from the restaurant tout de suite. I lived in Portland, OR. No one and I mean no one in all the years I lived here knew where Portugal was (isn’t Portugal like, a suburb of Russia??), let alone knows anything about the islands. I started looking around for the nearest exit and a weapon. Though not in that exact order.
However, FH was excited and talking a mile a minute (I would eventually find out he does this 18 hours a day. The rest of the time he’s asleep. Imagine my astonishment when I found out he doesn’t talk in his sleep as well.). He didn’t even notice my distress about being stalked and declared any red wine was fine with him and he noticed there was stuffed calamari on the menu. Did I like calamari? Of course I did! I was Portuguese! All Portuguese love seafood!
At this point I had calmed down enough to realize he wasn’t a stalker. He started waxing nostalgic about all things Portuguese. Portuguese festivals, Linguiça , morcela (blood sausage), Bacalhau (salt cod), acorda and several other items with which I was very familiar. FH was the real Portuguese deal.
After determining I would not have to peel him off of my front window in the days following, I ordered a nice red wine for us and we chose three appetizers to share (yes one of them was the stuffed calamari). We found out we had been raised nearly the same way. Though he was born in the Azores, my father was born here the states to Portuguese immigrants. My mother’s side of the family is from Holland (grandfather) and the Midwest (grandmother). However I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents, which caused me to identify more with the Portuguese side of my roots.
During the course of the evening we opened up a little more than we did in our emails to each other. I had a nutty ex-husband. He had a nutty ex-wife, however unlike me he was still in contact due to his pre-teen daughter. I had no kids. We both had cats. We had both been divorced for several years (me 14, FH about 9). We both also had lots of extended family, had a contest to see whose family was crazier and discovered we both felt the same way about food and travel.
Note – sadly I would only find out about his aversion to anything related to the Beatles and Science Fiction after the nuptials. And don’t even get me started on the reading thing. I was completely duped. Duped!!!
I think what amazed us both was though we had a lot in common; we had a lot we didn’t agree on but in a good way. One of the things that drive me nuts is being with someone who feels you must be joined at the hip and agree on all things. Talk about annoying and things that make me stabby.
Mostly I found out he was an intelligent, sweet guy with a great smile and was extremely loyal to those he loved best. He was a gentleman (to this day he still opens doors for me (including car doors), walks on the outside, carries everything when we’re shopping and cleans the litter box), he cared about what I had to say and respected my opinion. Even when it differed from his own. Plus bonus points for the fact he resembled a thinner version of John Candy in Uncle Buck.
As I said, tonight I’m not going to reflect on a bad decision but one of my good ones. Which was not getting my knickers in a twist when he thought I was trying to avoid him (normally any man giving me shit because I was choosing to help a friend rather than go on a date would have become chum). Instead I kept my cool and insisted we reschedule our coffee date.
Which turned out to be the best first date I’ve ever had and ironically he did turn out to be the last one.