So where were we? I was trying to read Steve’s message on Catholic Match, but my subscription had expired. If you haven’t read Part One yet, start here.
I have to break this into three parts because the story of how we actually came to meet meet, like in person, is so long and spans almost 6 months from first message to first date. You’ve been warned.
OK so I in all my selflessness, had decided to forgo my last $20 for a final month’s subscription to Catholic Match. I couldn’t wait to see what profound, romantic words Stephen had written. It had been a week, so I knew it was going to be awesome.
I eagerly punched in my debit card information, high on caffeine and anticipation, and probably telling my little sisters to please leave me alone, I am busy reading a love note from my future husband.
When I finally got to my inbox, I clicked on the message and this is what it said:
GUYS HONESTLY I DON’T REMEMBER BUT I KID YOU NOT IT WAS SO SHORT I ABOUT DIED.
It was basically like:
Hey Katie! Happy New Year! Sorry it took me forever to respond, I’ve been under the weather this past week. Something vague about Ocean City, something else I can’t remember. You seem nice, yay Catholicism, talk soon.
I don’t even know if he asked a follow-up question, because I was like:
It took a WEEK to write some very polite, very vague sentences about being sick or whatever!!???? (I am a relentless, heartless demon, I know.) ps– Steve if you are reading this, I’m sorry. Also– I know you hate the above meme, but thanks for loving me anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited he messaged back at all–I’m not a completely ungrateful wench. It’s just that I am also the Leslie Knope of expectations so I was putting more drama into it than was necessary. Story of my life. It doesn’t matter though, because I wrote back and we all know how this ends.
I wish I had printed out some of our initial conversations from the website, but in my infinite wisdom I did not foresee putting this story all over the internet.
Anyway, I went home to Nashville after the holidays and we went back to emailing about once a week via Catholic Match. As the month was coming to a close, I had to decide if I would continue paying & talking, or move along. Steve was the only person I was in any contact with on the site & so I messaged him to say that while I was really enjoying our convos, I didn’t intend to continue on Catholic Match but would he like to keep chatting off the site?
Thankfully he obliged, and thus began our four-month email correspondence. Yes, you read that correctly. Four months, emailing back & forth, no phone calls.
Quick back story: I have a long history of telling guys that I like them, and said guys being like,
Wow. I think you’re great too. You’re such a great friend. Let’s keep being friends. All the friendship.
It’s the most fun thing ever. pause pause NOT. (are people still quoting Borat?)
Because of this I decided I was not making the first move of giving/asking for a phone number. Instead I would be stubborn and send telepathic messages to Steve so that he would ask first, because that always works and is much more mature. If he didn’t, I would wait him out. And if that still didn’t work I guessed we would just continue to email until we died, never having met but still forever pen pals. lolz. #feminism #FemaleEmpowerment
Yesterday I unearthed the Stephen Box from our guest room (which is just a nice phrase for a painted room in our apt that houses a bunch of storage items but could also hold an air mattress if you were forced to sleep here). In it I found some print-outs of our old emails with creative titles such as:
Toward the end of the four months I began to panic about not having spoken at all via phone. I entertained various valid thoughts such as:
What if we are the worst at talking?
What if we are so awkward on the phone because we are writing everything out and there is nothing else to say?
What if he is not who he says he is?
What if I accidentally say something weird that has nothing to do with anything?
And my personal favorite,
What if he sounds like a leprechaun?
!?!?!?!?!?! Guys, I have no clue.
I wish I could blame my behavior on too much coffee or a weird back story, but I was just that irrational. And apparently not as pro-Irish as I thought. Again I say to you, 22 is the worst and weirdest age.
RE: The phone number mind-eff: A friend of mine (Paige, ILY) basically told me to stop being an annoying brat and just give him my number and move on with my life. She was nicer to me than that, bless her heart, but I am sure that’s what she wanted to say.
So I give him my number, and we start to text. And I spend the rest of the time between then and the moment we speak on the phone for the first time, freaking the —- out.
I call Kate, I pray that Steve isn’t a weirdo, I probably make Paige want to jump out her window with how much I am talking about this. I pray that I don’t do something weird like burst into song while we’re talking, or ramble about dumb stuff or WHATEVER. We text forever, and continue to email back and forth, and write letters. And then we set a phone date.
Flash forward to phone date day. I find a prayer for a future spouse online (I know, I know) and it’s a novena but I don’t have that kinda time because we are talking in a matter of hours. In the spirit of resourcefulness I copy it all onto an index card, light some candles and lay on the carpet in my room reciting the prayer until my Red LG Chocolate starts playing Chris Brown’s Forever. The screen lights up with Stephen’s number, and just like that a phone call changes my life.
He doesn’t sound like a leprechaun, he isn’t weird, and while the conversation isn’t earth-shattering it is somehow both excitingly new and comfortably familiar. It is fun and easy and interesting. We make plans to talk again, and when we are finished speaking I call my mom and tell her I’ve met someone online and please don’t freak out.
I remember standing on the patio of Swanky’s Taco Shop, stealing five minutes to call a friend and tell her about Steve, praying I wouldn’t get fired or come back to a table of 20 thirteen-year-olds who all want chocolate milk and quesadillas and magically don’t have parents or enough money to tip.
During this same time my sister Molly is preparing to graduate high school and I know I’ll be in Ocean City for the event, so I ask Steve if it would be a good time to meet. He says yes. Immediately I am nervous because I have nothing to wear and this is going to be a real date and please God don’t let him be an axe murderer.
And then I wait for June 20th. Growing up, my mom would always say, “Good things come to those who wait” and I used to hate it. But if this phrase is not the tagline on the title of my life story, I don’t know what is. And then before I know it I am on a plane to Ocean City for two very important life moments: Molly’s graduation & the day I will meet my future husband for the very first time.
I can remember wanting so badly to see into the future then. I wanted to confirm that this thing that felt so big was going to be as life-changing as it seemed. But honestly, reminiscing now is infinitely better. To close my eyes and see my younger self, and bring her back to life with letters on a keyboard. To roll my eyes at her– young and insecure and broken and spirited and weird as she was. To put on Ingrid or Bon Iver and play the movie of it all back in my mind–one I couldn’t have dreamed better myself. To sit in the kitchen of the tiny apartment that is ours together, in the town where it all began, waiting for summer to come back around so that I can see and smell and feel the memory of our first date like it was yesterday. A date that was probably one of the worst in the history of all dates, but somehow still worked out for us.
I’ll save that story for last.