Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A tale of two stories

B and I are celebrating two years today! So, as promised, here are our two stories.

As I tell the first one, it's purposely misleading although technically true. Unless I get to the very end, in which case I do actually lie. Usually I don't have to go that far.

NPIMFTFT: So how did you meet your husband?

Me: Oh, well - we met in Strasbourg [true]. I lived there for eight months, working as an English assistant at some local high schools, and while I was there I got involved with an English-speaking theater group at the local university [also true, although if you know B, you'd know he wouldn't have been involved in any capacity with a theater group]. He grew up in Basel, which is right across the border [yep, still true]...

(I'll stop there if the person is nodding already, but if not, I'll continue to elaborate....)

- and he was doing a semester abroad, since he went to school in the UK [also true - I simply fail to mention that his semester abroad was actually in Knoxville, Tennessee in the US]. I mean, we didn't start dating then - he's younger than me - but we were in contact for several years...

(80% of people are nodding at this point, allowing me to stop before I actually utter my first lie)

- and then we reconnected years later when I was visiting France [not true. Technically we connected then, no 're' about it]. 

This series of misdirections is usually sufficient. If not, I do occasionally get more explicit in my lies, sometimes saying he was friends with people in the theater group or that he actually attended the university in Strasbourg. But for the most part, I simply provide somewhat-unrelated facts as if they are tied together and let people draw a false conclusion.
If anyone reading this is one of the people whom I laid out this first, short version of how we met, my sincerest apologies. In my defense, I probably didn't exactly lie. I just laid it out so that you'd draw the conclusion I meant for you. Unless you didn't, in which case I did actually lie. Yep, sorry about that.

B and I did, in fact, meet in Strasbourg, France, back in 2009. The important part that I leave off the first version is that we had been in contact, off and on, for almost 9 years prior. We first met online, in a game. Actually in a text-based game (because we are just THAT cool). He claims that he remembers me from when he was as young as 14 and still living in Peru - I have one vague memory of this, so apparently he didn't make a very strong first impression (in my defense, what 14 year old does?). We didn't start talking regularly until several years later, when he was in university and I was in Boston working. We drifted in and out of contact over the years and progressed through various games together (we upgraded from MUDs to MMORPGs during this time - and if you don't know those abbreviations, basically it means computers got way better). We 'saw' each other through multiple relationships and breakups on both sides, using each other as an anonymous confessor/sounding board in many ways. We never broached the topic of meeting in person, as I had told him at the outset that I didn't meet people from online due to a bad experience and he never challenged it.

Then, in 2009, I found myself in France with some time to kill - I was staying with a wonderful (and luckily for me, open-minded) friend in Paris and decided to go visit some old haunts in Strasbourg (I did actually work there as an English assistant, back in 2005-2006 - see, that part of story #1 is also true. And he actually did do a semester abroad during that time - in fact, just down the road from my grandparents in Tennessee). B was living in Basel with his family in 2009 - he had finished university and was job hunting (I think).
Honestly, I can't remember who suggested actually meeting, but the convenience of being only a couple hours' train ride apart after years of communicating from different continents was hard to ignore. I do remember that I had to ask repeatedly for a picture so that I would recognize him (yes, after all those years, I still had no idea what he looked like), and finally receiving a blurry one mere hours before leaving my friend's apartment. The official line is that we were meeting as friends, but his reluctance to share a picture did concern me (later I realized that this was simply because he makes a weird face in every single photo anybody ever takes of him). Anyway - like a responsible adult, I forwarded the picture to my Paris friend and gave her what info I had in case I was never heard from again.

B and I spent 2 days in Strasbourg together. When I returned to Paris, my friend asked how it went, and I said simply that there were no surprises. The person that I had gotten to know online was exactly the same person that I had just met. It felt like seeing a long-lost friend again, with very little of the awkwardness of an initial meeting. It just fit - he was comfortable, fun, and wonderful.

Less than a year later we were engaged (for which I blame that whole Icelandic volcano ash cloud thingy), and a year after that, we were married (and six months later we had our big family celebration, of which today is actually the anniversary). But those are probably stories for another post.

Of course, this is my written version of our story. Which is much more comprehendable than how I actually tell it in person. Rather than ease people into it, I usually end up dropping all the bombshells at once, as if testing the NPIMFTFT's limits of understanding.

NPIMFTFT: So how did you meet husband?

Me: Ok, so, actually *nervous laughter* ok, so we met online. (BOOM, pause) In a game (BOOM, pause). But we knew each other for years before we met in person! See, he's five years younger than me (BOOM, pause).

And then I launch into a garbled explanation of why I am not a cougar and how I gave B plenty of opportunities to witness my full amounts of craziness but he stuck around anyway. Good times.

When I think about it, people's reactions may have more to do with how I present our story than the story itself. As evidenced by B's approach - after my last post, I inquired what his response was when people asked about his American wife:

B: I just say, "We met in Strasbourg after knowing each other online for a while."

Me: Oh. Huh. Well, that sounds pretty reasonable, actually.

B: Yep.

(Note to self: try that next time).

In the meantime, happy anniversary, B! It's like, in a way, you complete me... kitchen, matey :)

1 comment:

  1. Love this. So much. My recollection of your comments upon returning to Paris from Strasbourg is a bit more giddy than yours... No matter, your story is an example of how things definitely work out for the best (and, if you believe in that kind of stuff - if they are "meant" to :). Love you both! Happy Anniversary (again)!