So I am just going to put it out there...I have a great husband. I do. I am not just saying that because he is most likely going to read this or because he just surprised me with an awesome birthday weekend. I just do. I waited a long time to find "Mr. Right". 32 years in fact. But thanks to Dr. Neil Clark Warren I found him. Yes, that Neil Clark Warren...the eharmony guy. I remember sitting in a mediocre Italian restaurant on my 30th birthday with my parents, sister and sister-in-law with their kids and thinking...really? This is really how I am spending my 30th birthday? This really can't be my life. This is more the opening of a sad movie. Then I opened one of my birthday presents and it got worse. It was a Swifer Wet Jet. Not that I wasn't grateful for the mop but I thought..."WTF?! If I am still single next year at this time please just take me out to some field and shoot me...please someone just put me out of my misery." I took the mop home and spent the next few days contemplating my next move. I got to thinking...I spent so much time researching what I wanted to do for a career, where I should go to school, where I should rent an apartment even which grocery store is the best, yet, I was leaving the biggest decision up to chance...hoping that some random stranger would sweep me off my feet. Strangely that never happened. I was working in a pediatric ER at the time. Evenings. 3 Weekends a month. Funny, that was not conducive to a love life. Obviously my plan was not working. Time to change things up.
Back to Dr. Warren...I had recently attended a Child Life Conference and he was one of the speakers...something about working effectively with different personalities. He was a pretty interesting speaker...interesting in that I did not fall asleep while listening to him. He was hawking his latest book afterwards, "Love the Life You Live". On a whim I bought one. Not really into all that self help, touchy feely stuff but the book kind of made sense. In a nut shell...you are the one in charge of your happiness, or, "hey Erin...get off your ass, stop waiting for your Prince Charming to randomly ring your doorbell...ain't gonna happen so get yourself out there."
I decided to put as much effort into dating as I did every other aspect of my life. "Don't let life happen to you...happen to life!" Right Amy? So I rolled my sleeves up and got down to business. How at my age was I going to meet someone? The bar scene was out. My work schedule allowed me to visit bars on Tuesday afternoons. Not quite sure but a guy hanging out at a bar on a Tuesday afternoon probably was there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons too. Not a path I wanted to go down. I have my own issues...don't need an alcoholic on top of them. Blind dates...been there and did that. A LOT!! Funny who people think would be a good match for you. Turns out if you are single and your friends know someone single that is good enough for them. I could write a whole post on my blind date debacles...but I will spare you. Let's just say I think the staff at the Beer Garden in Southie may have thought I was a "working girl". It was my go-to spot for blind dates. It was easy, close to where I lived and I didn't have to think about it. I had so many friends looking out for my love life I had a blind date at least once a week...so I was single-handedly keeping the Garden in business. They would have been wise to install a revolving door for all the random dates I was meeting there. Sadly, or luckily for me they all went nowhere. One or two may have made it to a second date but that was the extent of it. One guy talked about water the whole time....he was some type of water engineer. I get it, water is important for the survival of the human race as a whole, but 2 hours in I didn't care if the worst drought in the world was upon us...I would have rather died of dehydration than heard one more fact about water. Another guy was such a soft talker that I spent the entire time saying, "pardon me?", "excuse me?", "come again?". Turns out I had agreed to a second date with him without knowing it. I guess I didn't hear him ask. They all had some fatal flaw. Even though 8% of blind dates end in marriage I decided to cut my losses...that I was more likely in the 92% of blind dates that end in misery.
So I went to a Christmas party. I finally had a Friday night off, had a cute dress on and was having a great time at the party. It is about 10 pm and the party breaks up. Most of the revelers head home with their spouses to tend to their children or the ones there with a date head out to continue their fabulous evening. So here I am at 10:30 on a Friday night, home alone with pretty party hair, party makeup and a decent buzz. What to do, what to do? I end up online. I look up my old friend Dr. Neil Clark Warren. I am going to "Love the Life I Live" if it f*cking kills me!!! I stumble across his dating service eharmony.com. Keep in mind this is 8 years ago. Online dating was still relatively new and still somewhat taboo. It is what creepy losers do. Right? In my tipsy state I sign up and fill out my personality profile. It took a couple of hours to fill it out and by then my buzz was starting to wear off. Oh my God!!! Was I a creepy loser? I didn't think so. Yeah I was single at 30 years old, but, I thought I was a nice, normal girl that just happened to not have found anyone to spend my life with yet. That to me was much more acceptable than being a creepy loser. I was sticking to my rationale instead. I clicked on "post profile" and left it up to chance....
I woke up the next day, completely sober and didn't immediately remember the previous night's activities. That was until I opened up my email. I saw that I had a few matches from eharmony. Huh? Oh right!! I joined last night in my wine fueled feeling sorry for myself fest. I was going to delete the emails but curiosity got the best of me. I opened them and my life was about to change. I jumped in with both feet. I was going to be serious about this dating thing. I took it on as if it were a part time job. I went on a ton of dates via eharmony. They were all great guys...just no spark. I was starting to think that Dr. Neil was on to something. All of the matches made sense and could see why we were matched. But I just didn't feel that connection I was hoping for. This went on for about 9 months. I was either up on Federal Hill or the East Side of Providence at least once a week. Meanwhile I decided that I needed a bit more of a shakeup in my life. I felt like things were getting stale. I decided to move across state lines and take a job in Salem. I took a short 3 month break from dating while I got my new life in order on the North Shore. Have no fear though my friends, I only put my online membership on hold....I didn't delete it entirely.
Once I was settled in I was ready to pick up my little sociology experiment. I went on a few dates within my new geographical range. It was a nice way to get to see the restaurant scene in my new neighborhood. Still no one really jumping out at me. That was all about to change. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was meeting one of my matches for lunch. I grabbed some "broken in" jeans (or slightly unwashed if you will) and threw on a sweater. I didn't put much thought into my outfit. It was just a first lunch date with a younger guy that I suspected answered all of his questions the way he thought a girl would want them to be answered. Yeah right, a 29 year old guy who wants a family, a quiet life and to settle down. MMM, yeah sure. (Hey just thinking out loud here, I am 3 years older than him. How much of an age difference does there need to be for me to be considered a cougar? As of tomorrow I am going to be 40 and he is going to be 36 for about 3 more weeks. Does that count?) But for some reason I was intrigued by his profile. Plus, it was just a quick bite to eat. I had to go grocery shopping because the next day I was hosting my annual "Lonely Hearts Club Un-Valentine's Day Party". I pull up a few blocks from the restaurant (online dating tip...don't park where the potential suitor can see your car...you don't want them knowing your car just in case they turn out to be a stalker...you're welcome). I head into the restaurant and see this guy sitting down in the lobby. He stands up and smiles at me and I am done. Chuck has this beautiful warm smile that lights up a room. One look at it and I was smitten. I am not saying it was love at first sight. I personally think love is something that grows over time, but I knew this was going to be something different.
We had an awful lunch of fried pickles, but it didn't matter. We continued our date walking all through downtown Salem just talking and laughing. It was a good 5 hours before I remembered I needed to get to the grocery store for what I now knew was going to be my final Un-Valentine's day bash. I remember getting in my car and calling my sister in law to tell her my good news, that I met the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. She told me and I quote, "yeah, don't get your hopes up". I showed her!! So we started spending a lot of time together and eventually I stayed over his place for the first time. I didn't know it then but turns out my future husband has a sleepwalking problem. I remember being at his place in a sound sleep when all of the sudden he stands up in the bed and walks over me. Literally steps on my stomach and keeps walking. I am thinking, "Friggin serves you right Erin, you meet a guy online of course he is going to murder you." Thankfully he did not kill me that night and we eventually we went on to get married and have two beautiful little girls that you all hear about all the time. Oh, and he was completely honest in his profile...he really did want all the same things I did.
I kind of joke that I got Chuck on sale. I purchased the 9 month package from eharmony...worked out to $19.99 a month. Chuck only joined for a month at $59.00. Even still I think he got a bargain with me!! Ha- Ha...I am sure as he reads this he is making a comment in his head about a "bargain basement" or something similar. If it were not for Dr. Neil Clark Warren invited to speak at the Child Life Council Conference all those years ago you may not be reading this blog right now. I may have remained a "Lonesome Loser" forever. Not that single people are Lonesome Losers..that is a reference to a song my sister wanted to play for me at her wedding. Thanks Jen! Since joining eharmony over 8 years ago I personally know of 10 relationships still going strong that have started as a result of online dating. Some of them a direct result of seeing the success Chuck and I had. So I guess I was a forward thinker of my time. A pioneer if you will. I think that may just qualify me for a Nobel Prize. I will keep my eyes peeled for my prize notification.