Nine months ago today, I was bored at home and looking for something to do. I had been back in Paris for just four days after a trip back to the U.S., a stressful trip during which I moved my grandmother into a nursing home and had to close up her apartment, all the while knowing it might be the last time we'd see each other as she was clearly deteriorating in every respect. And I was still working my way out of jet lag.
"Ah, it's been a while since I checked out Meetic", I thought. Having nothing better to do -- with all of Paris out there to explore, at that moment I really did feel I had nothing better to do -- I logged onto the dating web site, a place where I was paying for a membership I was barely using, and not all that enthusiastic about it either, after the Gardener episode. But I thought I ought to at least make the occasional effort to use my membership... after all, a Finnish friend of mine had met a really great guy (French) on Meetic and before she'd met him, she'd gone on a fair number of dates and not all of them were total losers. (She has since married that really great French guy, by the way.) Maybe I needed to try harder, have a better attitude about it, I thought.
I typed in my log-in details, gave the "which men are online now" list a cursory glance, and then stayed logged on there while getting distracted by something else (probably reading one of my favorite blogs, comme d'habitude). I'm not sure how much time might have elapsed but it couldn't have been more than 5 or 10 minutes.
Suddenly there was a little Meetic "chat request" window popping up on my screen. Someone with a rather odd screen name of "pompompompom", which immediately brought cheerleaders with pom-poms to mind, was asking, in English no less, how I was and if I wanted to chat.
At least I think that might have been his opening line. I'm not exactly sure. The records of our chat log that first day never got saved by either of us... I mean, who could have guessed where we were headed at that first moment? So I don't exactly remember what either of us said on that first chat session, although I have copies of every chat session since.
But here's what I DO remember: that I was immediately impressed by how articulate he could be in English, even if his English wasn't perfect. My experience in having French men try to chat me up, until that point, had been that most of them spoke little or no English and that made it impossible to have a real conversation (again, see "Gardener"). I had more fun in that first on-line discussion than in any of the live dates I'd had in years, both in Paris and prior. He was a Frenchman with a sense of humor I could actually relate to, and he made me laugh. And of course... he was charming. But charming in a way I intuitively felt was genuine. And I was very interested to see what might happen if we chatted again.
That first chat session, nine months ago today, was what started it all. We did chat again, the next day. And the next. We booked a lunch date. Five days after that opening chat, we met in the flesh. And now, here we are all these months later, and in one week we are getting married. Honestly, is my life a movie, or what?
Some people say that Internet relationships aren't "real", that they can't lead anywhere, that they can't last. That might be true if your entire relationship stays virtual... and our relationship moved from virtual to "live" very quickly. And here we are, two adults in the September of our lives, in love like we've never -- either of us -- been in love before. We're joining our lives together, creating a new blended family.
It doesn't get any more real than that.
This has been the best nine months of my entire life; my life which has taken a turn I could never, in a million years, have seen coming. I can't wait to see what the next nine months... nine years... or 30 or 40 years will bring.
By the way, as Georges is actually out of Paris at the moment, we will celebrate our nine-month meeting in much the same way we started... chatting online. Only now we use web-cams so we can still be face-to-face when we talk.
It's romantic. Seriously. Don't knock it until you've tried it.