It all started innocently enough. A comment on Instagram led to a Facebook friend request led to my begrudgingly giving J my phone number- I knew that it was wrong, that it would lead to nothing good. I felt guilty but he was just so charming and funny, intuitive and smart, and besides (I reasoned), he lived 1600 miles away. What harm could really come of it? We began to text all the time- all. the. time.
I loved my boyfriend, in large part due to the fact that our relationship was so easy. We had been together for 3 years and hardly ever fought. He was a hard worker, he was nice to me, loved kids, and I knew that I would never have to worry about him straying. We talked marriage, buying a house, adult stuff.
But he also didn’t read. He didn’t care about films, art, pop culture or when I would get passionate about the oftentimes unfortunate political decisions made by certain state governments concerning women’s bodies (“calm DOWN we don’t even live in Texas”). He was unobservant and apathetic, which is why he did not even notice or care about who I was texting at all hours of the day and night.
And then there was J- J, who was live-texting me pictures from LAX on his return flight home from his business trip (I was 23, ok), who had owned and built up and flipped his own house, who was 6’4 and 32 and had a little bit of white in his beard and could make me laugh like no one else ever had because he was smart instead of stupid.
The flirting escalated, but I had quickly written off our Internet relationship as just that- words that evaporated as soon as they were formed- impossible and unreal. At this point he was just an ego boost, and I assumed that I was not the only girl on this dude’s text roster. This is what I told myself at the time, the justifications I gave for being unfaithful to my trusting boyfriend who did not suspect a thing, who I knew never would. A part of me sort of hated him for not caring more – for never asking who I was always talking to, for never even going on my unguarded computer and forever logged in Facebook to read the flirty messages I purposely did not delete. And despite fully knowing how insanely self-involved that line of reasoning was, I just couldn’t shake it.
We began to send packages and letters to each other’s jobs. I started to get anxiety if I hadn’t heard from him by noon every day. Worst of all, I found myself actually getting jealous of girls commenting on his Facebook, envious of the girls he would post on Instagram. I had met this guy on IG (although not IRL) and I was already possessive about him. Which made me feel as insane as I actually was.
I would go through all of his social media pictures, piecing together his life, trying to figure out what his friends were like, the places he went and the things he did.
Worst of all, I still did not see the extent of my disloyalty. In part this was due to the fact that I knew myself to be Not A Cheater. Loyalty Above Everything. it was a part of my code- I was unable to step outside my self-imposed moral superiority to admit wrong-doing.
It wasn’t until late one December night (our ‘correspondence’ began on Halloween) that the situation became a lot more real. As my boyfriend (let’s call him K) lay on one side of the bed blissfully snoring, I was posted up on the other side, the bright glare of the iPhone dimmed by the covers thrown over my head. Our 50 pound blue nosed pit bull wedged in between us like a ballpark hot dog too fat for its bun (a premonitory metaphor for division), and J asks, why not come visit? Why don’t I buy you a plane ticket right now?
I was so excited he had asked that I did not stop to think before I agreed. He bought the ticket and a month later I was headed to the airport.
I told K, my boss (who doubled as my best friend), and everyone else I knew that I was flying to visit family in Toronto for the weekend. I decided that if it didn’t work out, then that was fine and we would just be friends and have this cool weird story to tell people. Or tell no one ever. And if it did work out, well…I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.
I woke up at 3 am, called a cab, grabbed my Ziploc bag of whiskey nips, scrawled out a goodbye note to K and headed to the airport.
As I made my way down the plane aisle I noticed that Bill Cosby was sitting directly to my left (this was before news came out that he raped everyone in the world). In a stroke of airfare luck previously unbeknownst to me, I had gotten the aisle seat directly behind the partition between first class and the rest of the plane, only one of two locations with leg room enough to stretch out fully- and the other two seats in the row were unoccupied. Pushing my luck, I knew my only opportunity to meet Bill Cosby was NOW and I crawled up the aisle as the stewardess “ma’am”-ed me reproachfully, making it to his seat just in time to ask for a picture with him. Despite my lack of sleep and makeup the picture came out GOOD and I triumphantly headed back to my seat and downed a victory nip of Jack Daniels before promptly falling asleep. I took this as a good omen.
I drank the other 3 nips before I got off the plane and then inhaled a double shot of well whiskey at the T.G.I.Friday’s bar ($18). It was 11:30AM and I was on the verge of trashed as I sat on my duffel bag outside the airport arrivals terminal smoking a cigarette.
And there he was. Slow jogging towards me from the parking garage, taller than I thought he would be. I stood up and he put an arm around me and maybe it was all that shitty whiskey before breakfast but at that first moment of contact my volition and legs turned to pudding and had he asked me to marry him right then and there I would have led the way to the courthouse.
20 minutes later we found ourselves eating salsa and drinking margaritas at a Mexican restaurant. Then we went swimming. That night we “made love” (Ugh, I know, but what else do you call penetration when you are staring into each others eyes?) and I told him I loved him and his eyes got wide and he got bigger inside me and our lovemaking turned to fucking.
Yeah. I told him I loved him. Less than a day after meeting him. I know what you’re thinking, but keep in mind that I had maintained a steady but potent drunk for 24 hours straight and this coupled with my lack of sleep resulted in a very special state of horny delirium.
I don’t remember what we talked about that weekend. I don’t even remember much about where we went and what we did. But I do remember how he made me feel. And I still remember getting on that airplane to fly home feeling like I could cry because I was so happy for the experience and so sad that it was over. So I cried.
When I got back to my city I broke up with my boyfriend and within the course of two painfully awkward weeks moved out of our apartment. A couple of months later J bought me a one way ticket to him. We decided that I would move in with him. My friends began preparing me for the worst. Nobody around me seemed to think that it could work out.
I packed a duffel bag and flew down and I have been with my guy ever since. Sometimes strangers you meet on the Internet will end with your appearance on an episode of Dateline, but sometimes they end up your husband.