I went to high school in the late nineties. My dad has always worked in technology and computers, and at that time he owned his own company. So, we had a lot of computers at our disposal. When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents allowed me to have one in my room. Honestly, there wasn’t much to get into at that point in time. Once, I entered a chat room with other teens – I am laughing out loud writing about this – just after the Columbine shootings. (I’m not at all laughing about the Columbine shootings.) A boy – I guess he was a boy. Who really knows? – asked me where I lived and went to school. I panicked, clicked out of the chat room immediately, and sprinted to my parents bedroom, where the door was locked, which could only mean one thing – they were otherwise engaged and I was going to have to deal with scary chat room boy all on my own. I tell you this to give you an accurate picture of how very unadventurous I was and how very reasonable it was for my parents to allow me to have a computer in my room.
Except for AIM.
Ah, the glorious sound of that, “Bling.” A chat coming in, popping up on the screen from barcenaux82, suz81, or jblack83 – oh how thrilling. I would leap from my floral printed, Laura Ashley sheets into my desk chair with glee and anticipation. It was just a foreshadowing of what was to come. I chatted with people on AIM that I never would have initiated conversation with in person. Technology was already closing the accessibility gap, and also, it allowed me to carefully craft my flirty words before I delivered them. My cool factor could not be contained.
I guess it was about August of our junior year in high school when Josh and I began chatting regularly. What I know about Josh now is that he’s a friendly guy who doesn’t think much about things before he does them. He likely just saw me online and figured he’d give me a shout. We had one fun conversation in which I laughed at his goofy humor (so many LOLs) and he caught my sarcasm, and that led to another and another. I started thinking that I might really like this guy. Like, really, but I felt silly about it because he was Josh – goofy, not cool, Josh. But every time we talked, I found that he didn’t make me feel the way other boys made me feel – awkward, unsure, and not enough. When we talked, I felt at ease, free to be myself, and like I was talking to a friend – because I was.
There was a back-to-school dance every year in early September. Josh asked me, and I gleefully said, “Yes.” We were on the fast track to our first real date. I just knew it. I mean, we HELD HANDS on the couch in James’ pool house. What further evidence did anyone need of our forever love?
Let’s remember that part about Josh not considering things much before he did/does them. One night after the dance I was sitting at my desk, possibly playing solitaire or something else gripping on the computer, when a “Bling” came through. I leapt into action upon seeing that it was from Josh. Before we got far into our conversation, he had conveyed that he had a new girlfriend.
I’m sorry, what?
It’s the truth. Some other girl had asked him to go out, and he’d said, “Yes.”
Who the aych was this chick? I had never even heard him mention her. She didn’t go to church with us. She was not our friend. She had no place in his life. He was very clearly already mine, thought a very disappointed me.
I need to stop here to tell you that so much about our first miscommunication points to a great many of the issues we have had about once a week since. Josh had his own life, his own world apart from me. He was president of the FCA at PHS. He played tennis and ran cross-country and dated other girls, apparently, all of which had not a thing to do with me and my life. Every piece of my life, however, was connected to him. For one, I’m a female, which means I thought and talked about boys far more than they ever thought or talked about me. It’s a sad day when you realize the magnitude of this truth. For another, most of my friends were directly connected to Josh. He consumed my thoughts and my feelings and my conversations while I only affected his while we were together – and sometimes not even then.
This is still the case. If I had learned not to take offense to it, to tell him directly what I wanted and needed sooner, if I was better at it now, gosh the things we could have avoided. Sigh. Tomorrow is another day.
Wounded, I avoided him for a week or so, but he kept “Bing-ing” me (that sounds mildly dirty and I’m getting tickled at it). He started coming to my swim meets in the afternoons. I knew – I just KNEW – he wouldn’t do that if he didn’t have feelings for me. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Regardless, he still had some girlfriend, which I apparently only acknowledged as partial reality. When I want something, the whole world better move outta the way because I am going after it. (Josh would probably tell you that if he’d learned THAT early on, we could’ve avoided a great many additional fights…like the one we had two nights ago.) What I wanted, friends, was Joshua Wesley Blackwell.
Within a month or so, “other girl” – who as it turns out was perfectly nice – was out of the picture and, through a great deal of finagling by my friend Susan, our first date was on the calendar. Funnily enough, my parents were out of town for this transaction. I haven’t a clue where, but I was the only person in my house that night – have I mentioned how very NOT wild I was? My friend, Kate helped me pick out my outfit: pinstripe pants and a white button up with some sort of very chunky heels. Oh that sweet, lumpkin, late nineties fashion. He took me to Logan’s where we ordered salads and my stomach hurt so bad I thought I was going to have to spend some time in the bathroom because of my nerves. We went to see The Sixth Sense, and held hands THE WHOLE TIME (surely this was a done deal). He brought me home and that was it. By mid-November, we were officially “Josh and Emily.”
There are other stories from that first year, of course – the first kiss, all the break-ups, the mono, how he literally became my very best friend in a way no one ever had before. We’ll save those for next time because they matter in our story – and they’re pretty funny, too.
How’d you end up with your person? Do you remember the subtle nuances of your start? I, for one, find myself getting all the feels about a man who is, quite frankly, still a very, very good one, despite all our differences – simply because I’m taking time to remember. So, tell us. How’d it all start for you? Tell us on the social media platform of your choosing (I’m an Instagram junkie, myself) and use the hashtag #tdadtamarriage (The Down and Dirty Truth about Marriage) so we can all follow along…and also pictures. Pretty please with the pictures! Let’s celebrate the beginning so we can gain some perspective on the right now.
Come back next Monday for the continuing saga. Same time, same place. Love y’all like crazy!