Two weeks and one day from now, I'll have been married to Justin for one year. One year! Seems like just yesterday when we exchanged vows, posed for tons of pictures (or "snappies" as Justin likes to call them), cut some cake and danced the night away with our friends and family.
A few days ago, the TL's very own managing editor, Mr. Robert "Bubba" Kapral (as he introduces himself to me every day like we've never, ever met) asked me how I met Justin. I was a little surprised that he'd never heard the story, but then again, it's not like I walked around wearing a sandwich board detailing how I met my future husband.
So how did I meet Justin? Short, easy answer: match.com. Of course, if you've been reading my columns, you know I prefer the long, detailed answer.
Rewind back to several years prior to this match.com "experiment." For a large portion of my 30s, I was pretty busy doing things other than searching for a husband - you know, all that chemo and radiation is quite time-consuming. My priorities were getting and staying healthy, and to be honest, that was more than enough for me. I didn't care about getting married and having babies - in fact, I figured I'd probably never get married, and I was OK with that too. I was happy and secure with myself, and I didn't feel like I needed a "better half."
Somewhere along the line, however, I realized that I missed out on a pretty big part of my dating life during the time I was fighting cancer. Most of my friends were married with kids or in relationships, and I really didn't have anyone to go out with in order to meet new people. So, just for kicks, I bit the bullet and signed up for match.com. I'd heard some pretty good things about it, so I figured, "What the heck?" I wasn't looking for a husband. I guess I just wanted to see what was out there. My pocketbook was a bit lean, so I only signed up for three months.
Without going into too much detail, let's just say that sometimes you have to dig through a LOT of coal before you find a diamond. I'd talked to a few people on email and was on a date or two, but I really wasn't impressed with my suggested "matches." This site wasn't really what I was looking for, so at the end of three months, I decided I would cancel my subscription.
However, like many other things I forgot as a result of what I call permanent "chemo brain" (that's the excuse I'm using anyway), I forgot about my subscription until after it automatically renewed for another three months. Great, I thought. Stuck for another three months.
About one week after my subscription would have expired had I actually remembered to cancel it, I received a very interesting email from a man in Wheeling. This man, "Justin," politely introduced himself, told me a little about himself and then asked me about myself. He went on to say that he was using match.com as part of a "free subscription weekend" and if I wanted to contact him, I could email him at his personal email account. Match, however, had a safety feature integrated that automatically changed his personal email address to his match.com email address. He signed off and hoped to hear from me soon.
This email intrigued me for several reasons. First, and most importantly, he could spell. Second, he used proper grammar. Third, he did not have any shirtless photos of himself flexing his muscles on his profile page. And finally, he just sounded like a really nice guy. And right in Wheeling? I figured I'd better act fast, especially knowing he would have limited access to his match account since it would expire soon.
I emailed him back right away and gave him my cell phone number and asked him to text me. He did, later that evening, and we actually never used match to communicate again. It was just a vehicle we used to connect. The rest we did on our own.
When I went back and looked at his profile again, I realized that I had seen him on my page as a "top match" several times, but I always scrolled past him. The reason? I didn't like the shirt he was wearing in his profile picture. Really! I know that sounds awfully shallow, but the shirt was so obnoxious that I could not get past it for anything! It was a bright green soccer jersey with a ginormous "BRAZIL" across the front in white, sewn-on letters. The shirt was ugly.
Thankfully, he did not wear the green soccer jersey on our first date. We had a really nice time, and by the third time we went out, things just really "clicked" for me. We eventually added weeknight dates to our weekend dates, and we spent more and more time together. I met Justin in July 2010 - I remember our first date was the weekend of Jamboree in the Hills because I recall it being on TV in the background at Abby's - and on March 25, 2011, in front of the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, Justin asked me to marry him. Seven months later, in front of family and friends, we promised to spend the rest of our lives together.
Everything about the relationship just felt right from the start, nothing seemed rushed, and things just fell into place naturally. I guess there is something to the old adage that when it comes to finding your mate, you really DO know when it's right. Even the stars seemed aligned for us to meet. Had I actually canceled my match.com subscription, I probably would not have met Justin.
I understand now that online dating sites are good for normal, busy, everyday working people - people who are otherwise too old for or too tired of the bar scene. I know several people who met their spouses on dating sites, but I also know of others who have not had much success. I suppose there is a little luck and maybe fate involved, and depending on how deep you're willing to dig into that pile of coal, you might just come out with a shiny, lovely gem.
And if your potential "gem" happens to be wearing an ugly shirt, just think of it as maybe needing a little polish.