Four years ago today, I was scared out of my mind. The man I was pretty sure I loved, maybe, certainly, possibly, how the heck can you tell over the Internet? was coming to meet me in person at last. We had met two years before that in Second Life and hit it off like gangbusters. Of course, in Second Life, I looked like this:
Even four years younger, I didn’t look like that in real life. I don’t think anybody looks like that in real life. But Justin knew that; he’d seen my picture; I’d seen his picture. We’d gone through our fair share of online drama–well, maybe less than our fair share on the international average based on what our online friends had gone through, but still, a fair amount. We had supported one another through real life crises; we spent at least four hours out of every 24 together. We had put all our talent and energy into the task of creating a virtual bond. (Nobody can sext like a couple of writers.) We were ready to meet in the flesh.
But I was terrified. He looked cute in his pictures; he said I looked cute in mine, but even a photograph can be deceiving. Another friend pointed out that one of us might smell weird – thanks, Wende, by the way. We’d heard one another’s voices on the phone and Skype, but what if in real life my Southern drawl drove him crazy? What if his Aussie lilt wasn’t so cute at seven am? What if he was a slob, a kitten-stomper, a serial killer, a wrestling fan? He was scheduled to stay from June until August – what if we hated one another on sight? Or worse, just kinda didn’t love one another any more? Eight weeks is a long blind date, especially when it isn’t really working.
But I met him at the airport, so freaked out my knees were knocking, I felt faint, and I was probably covered in the most ladylike possible version of flop sweat. He got off the plane after multiple connections and almost three full days awake, starved and exhausted and still twitching slightly from a mauling by immigration in Texas. And I saw him, and he saw me, and we smiled, and we kissed, and I hugged the other half of me close for the first time. A little more than eight weeks later, we did this:
And it hasn’t always been easy, and it hasn’t always been perfect. But for the past four years, I’ve slept beside my soul mate every single night. And it’s been the best sleep I’ve ever had.