Thirteen years ago, I was living in Yakima, Washington, and absolutely loving my job as an AP correspondent.
That was in the days when I didn't think twice about driving 150 miles roundtrip to Seattle for lunch. I was 28, and life was good.
Well, except for a rough break-up in March 1995 with a guy I'd been dating long-distance. (He lived in Urbana, IL, and I lived in Yakima. We would pick a city to meet in every six weeks or so and have fabulous weekends together. For about six months. After which he suddenly decided overnight that he didn't want a girlfriend and never had. Whatever.)
So on May 6, 1995, I found myself in Portland at a large party where I only knew a handful of people, including a guy from Seattle I was casually seeing who turned out to be the Date From Hell. I won't go into the gory details of how it was the Date From Hell (other than to mention that after it was all over, I still had to drive him home to Seattle. But rather than spend the night in Portland as planned, I insisted on driving directly to Seattle when we left the party at 2 or 3 a.m. I was determined to get him out of my car and out of my life as quickly as possible.).
But on the upside, I met this kinda cute guy wearing his motorcycle leathers. We just met in passing, didn't even talk more than 10 minutes or so. But somewhere in there I found out his parents lived within my coverage area in Washington state and I suggested he let me know the next time he was going to be there and maybe we could have coffee or something. I also discovered the coincidence that we both had accounts with the same Portland-based ISP so it was easy to remember his email address with his unique nickname of Szott. (Apparently it was a nickname dating back to high school when there were a bunch of Scotts on tech crew for the drama department.)
Keep in mind this was the dark ages of the Internet practically, when it was just coming into common usage. I think that might have even been in the early days of the AP even having email, back when we couldn't email anyone outside of the company. (Like that was useful!)
So when I bumped into a guy named Szott on a MUSH (acronym for multi-user shared hallucination, essentially a primitive version of Second Lifeback in the day when everything was in text and nothing was visual; you could "look" at people or rooms and get a text description of what you were "seeing."), I immediately asked if he were the Szott I'd met a few days earlier at a Portland party. It was sort of like in all the chat room possibilities on the Internet, even then, you had to wander into mine ... but in a good way.
We chatted (flirted!) online, and then eventually he invited me to another (smaller!) party in Portland the first weekend in June. As May stretched on, we decided we couldn't wait for June, so he decided to drive up to Yakima for part of Memorial Day weekend, arriving on May 26.
But then, a week before our date, I managed to trip and fall while covering a story about a landslide at a rock quarry near Wenatchee, WA, that killed a 5-year-old and an equipment operator. That May 19 injury, that I didn't even go see a doctor for until the next day, turned into a 5-year-plus chronic pain problem that didn't go away after two shoulder surgeries. (Things improved drastically when I finally quit the AP and stopped aggravating by spending long hours at a keyboard without adequate breaks.)
I remember suggesting that maybe we should postpone our first date until I was healed because I figured I wouldn't be any fun since I was hurting so much. Scott, being the kind of guy he is, said it didn't matter, that he still wanted to see me.
So we had our first date in Yakima, and the second date planned the following weekend in Portland. I'm guessing if things had gone bad over Memorial Day weekend, we both would have found better things to do in early June. :) But it was great. And it was amazing how much this quiet, introverted guy had to say when you got him one-on-one or in the masses of email we sent each other each day we were apart. (All of which I still have archived on my computer, one reason I'm loath to give up using Eudora. :)
When I was packing up my stuff after that second weekend together to head back to Yakima, I sort of thought that was going to be it since neither of us were looking for anything serious. So Scott caught me by surprise when he asked, as I was packing, "So what do you want to do next weekend? Do you want to come back here, or should I come up to Yakima?" Wow!
Of course, I immediately told him he was my transitional fling and that he shouldn't get too attached to me because I was still getting over the March breakup. In fact, I insisted, we should definitely see other people. And Scott said he was good with all of that and promised he wouldn't get too attached.
Every once in a while now, he reminds me of that and asks what I do in serious relationships if this is how my flings turn out. :)
Anyway, we made that 200-mile long distance trip every weekend that weather allowed for 4.5 years until I finally managed to get myself moved to Portland. We married in September 2001, and I know when you get married you're "supposed" to stop counting those dating anniversaries, but I can't help it.
Despite everything going on in my life these days, I can't help but feel blessed that Scott and I found each other and found a way to make a relationship work.
Happy 13th anniversary, Scott!
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