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10 Years, But Who’s Counting?

My wife doing a head stand in Positano, Italy, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

My wife doing a head stand in Positano, Italy, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. She’s awesome.

Ten years ago today, I met my wife. Well, that’s not entirely true.

We started our flirtations on the Internet. We each joined the Jewish dating site, JDate, somewhere between 2002 and 2003. I don’t remember exactly when I joined, but it was probably around January 2003. That was when I started studying for my graduate comprehensive exam. I figured if I was going to be buried in books for the next five months, with pretty much no free time, I may as well use the computer to meet women. You have to keep in mind way back then online dating wasn’t seen as a norm. In fact, many of my friends asked me what was wrong with me for dating online. Then again, they could easily have been just asking that in general.

Towards the beginning of May, as I was doing my last minute exam cramming, I stumbled upon this girl’s JDate profile. What did I notice? Two things. One, there was no picture. Intrigue! The second was that she was a fan of music, and in particular, Phish. I sent her a message.

At that time, we both were on AIM. A couple days or weeks prior to our first IM sessions, I watched Crank Yankers, the Comedy Central puppet show that made crank phone calls. There was a character called Special Ed, which I found humorous. Naturally, I made him my avatar. He wore a special helmet. When I started IMing with my wife, she asked me about the avatar. I explained it. She was offended. You see, she’s a special education teacher. We did not get off to a great start.

However, sometimes — just sometimes — I can put one and one together to make two. This was one of those times. I quickly swapped out the avatar. We continued IMing and emailing. She eventually sent me a photo. Only she wasn’t alone in the picture. She and her friend were pictured in a car. I didn’t know which one she was. I guessed. And I guessed appropriately, it turned out.

Over the next couple of weeks, we elevated our conversations from IM to telephone. Ah, the good old days when flirting strangers would talk for several hours on the phone, getting to know one another, reducing the uncertainty the lies between two beings.

I don’t recall who spoke up first, but one of us asked if we wanted to meet in person. It took us a little while to figure out what we wanted to do. One option, meet in the city. I was living in northern New Jersey, she was in central New Jersey at her parent’s house. Another option was to meet at Rutgers, which was not too far from her and not a terrible drive for me. The third option was for her to come up to my apartment. She chose that one.

She arrived at my apartment in the early evening. I gave her the once over. She was pretty. Excuse me, is pretty. She came into my den, burbar carpet and all. We sat down and I gave her a CD — no, not a mix CD; we weren’t at that level yet! – but a CD of a Phish show we were both at and both loved from earlier that year. We talked, hesitantly, for a while and then went on our date. We went bowling.

I know how to treat a woman. Take her to a smoky, loud, beer-smelling, brightly lit bowling alley. Works every time. No, not really. But we had fun! On our way out, two girls, couldn’t have been more than 15, asked us if we were together because we’d make a great couple. We both laughed all the way back to the car.

She wound up hanging out until very late (or very early in the morning, depending on your perspective), as we just talked and got to know each other better beyond our emails, IMs and phone calls. Nothing — nothing — is better than face to face conversation, especially when first meeting someone.

As the years went by and our relationship evolved — we’re now married for 4.5 years — we could never remember the actual date of our first date. We knew it was towards the end of May, beginning of June, so we just decided to call June 1 our ‘anniversary.’ So today is 10 years. Amazing how time flies and how much we change. Like anyone who’s spent a long time with another human being, there are many stories to tell. But today, it’s about this date. Or, really, what this date means to me.

Interestingly, last year, as we were talking about this with her mother, we had a revelation. Well, we didn’t, per se. Turns out, her mother remembered the actual date of our first meeting. May 23. A Friday. I pulled up a calendar from 2003 and lo! May 23rd was a Friday. And we both thought back and determined that that was the actual date. However, we’re still celebrating June 1 as our anniversary.

About joshsternberg

Josh Sternberg is the content strategist for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was the media reporter for Digiday. Additional bylines include: The Atlantic, The Awl, Pacific Standard, Mashable, Huffington Post, Mediaite.


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