Five years ago today, I drove from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara to meet a girl named Kelley, whom I had met on eHarmony a few weeks earlier. I didn't have all that high expectations for this date, since my prior dates via eHarmony never went anywhere. In fact, us meeting at all was a total fluke: I forgot to cancel my eHarmony membership, and was billed for an extra month. I had been matched with Kelley near the end of that extra month. Also, I had set my match radius to 90 miles and for some reason, eHarmony said that Santa Barbara was within that radius. It's not: it's a 95 mile drive. Still, the only harm was that I'd be out 200 miles worth of gasoline, and it was a pretty drive up and down the coast, so I didn't see much downside.
Also, while the exchanges on eHarmony went well enough to want to meet in person, I didn't really even know what she looked like, since the photos she had online weren't very good. I could tell that she was in good shape and had long brown hair…and that was about it. What it was about me that convinced her to give me a shot is beyond me. I think my typo that I made great "cheesy garlic fudge" (I meant "cheesy garlic bread and fudge") intrigued her more than anything else.
I'm assuming she didn't have all that high expectations, either, since, if I remember correctly, Kelley had the idea of a Sunday lunch date. We also planned on a short date: she had an event that she was playing music at in the late afternoon. So we had mutual escape hatches, in case things didn't go well: I had my excuse of a long drive back, and she had hers with her music performance.
We met at a restaurant on State Street called the Natural Café. I got there roughly 15 minutes early, being hellbent on not living up to the Indian Standard Time stereotype. I waited just inside the restaurant for her, and she was spot on time. My first thought upon seeing her was, "Hey…now this is ... quite good…I wonder why she has such bad photos up?"
The conversation was … easy. And the scenery was great, too. After lunch, we took about a three mile walk to the beach and back, and said our goodbyes, since she had to get to her gig. During the drive home, all I could think was, "Yeah, I like her. She seems cool. Should I wait until tomorrow to text her and ask her on a second date? Or should I just call her when I get back?" By the time I got off the 405 on to Wilshire, I had decided no reason to play games and to text her when I got home (don't text and drive, kids). She beat me to the punch and texted me pretty much as soon as I got home. Hm, no games on her end either. Yeah, there might be something worthwhile here, I thought.
A second date turned into a third, into a fourth, into daily emails back and forth while I was in Australia on a preplanned vacation in May. Yeah, I knew I was done for during that trip. We weren't even officially boyfriend/girlfriend, but I felt guilty chatting up Australian girls; like I was cheating on my not-then-girlfriend. About those emails: Kelley kept emailing me while I was there. Being the gentleman that I am (quiet you), I simply and obligingly emailed her back every time (Kelley will tell this story differently; rest assured she's wrong).
Visiting each other almost every weekend that summer turned into Kelley moving under protest to Santa Monica (only from Santa Barbara could moving to Santa Monica be considered a downgrade), into Kelley's parents inviting me to Christmas in Louisa without me even meeting them before. That was strange - meeting my girlfriend's parents at the airport. Kelley wasn't even there yet: we took different flights because I had miles, and I had gotten there an hour or so before she did. As strange as it was, I couldn't have asked for a warmer and more welcoming house, and I can't ask for better in-laws (except for the fact that they live in the middle of nowhere).
Us each having significant surgeries turned into me graduating from business school, into an engagement that we both long knew was coming. Yeah, we talked about marriage very quickly; pretty much as soon as Kelley moved to Santa Monica. It just seemed obvious to me that we would eventually get married.
A move for work to the San Francisco Bay turned into a wedding at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Yeah, we got married at a zoo. How awesome is that? One of my favorite things about it was that everyone was skeptical until they stepped foot in the part of the Zoo set aside for the wedding. Then they all got it and understood. That's kind of an allegory for Kelley and me.
An agonizing period of unemployment turned into me landing an awesome job at one of those companies at which kids dream about working, into buying a brand new house in Dublin together six months ago. We love our house. It's new, it's big, we can walk to stuff, it's great. Most importantly, it's home that we've made our own, together.
I've known my wive now for five years. The increased number of white hairs in my head tell me that five years is a long time.
I've known my wife now for five years. The fact that she looks even better to me today than she did five years ago tells me that five years isn't long at all.
I've known my wife now for five years. The brief summarization of our life together in a few short sentences tells me that five years isn't long at all.
I've known my wife now for five years. The abject failure of a brief summarization of our life together to adequately describe the how wonderful our relationship is, how good she has been for me, and how happy I am that I drove those 95 miles five years ago tells me that five years is that five years is a long time, indeed.
I've known my wife now for five years. I'm hoping for at least fifty more.