I must confess: these "love in the age of the internet" stories are some of my favorites. (Don't read into that. Online dating isn't for me and while I've gone on a couple (admittedly good) dates with guys I met via Twitter, I'm still single.)
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Before facebook and twitter there was xanga, a blogging network where millions of people shared daily life and deep thoughts with people they didn’t know. I started blogging there under the moniker “ClumsyBallerina” as an outlet for my swirling thoughts on faith, love and life in general.
I’d been single for a while, my heart still bruised from the end of my last relationship where I was dumped via email. I was drifting, living at home and working as a secretary who moonlighted as a pizza delivery girl.
Late one night, after an evening of pizzas, I was surﬁng blog-rings on xanga and came across this college guy in Oklahoma who wrote profoundly about love, church and losing his father to cancer.
I left him a comment: “Hi, I got your weblog through a random click of the mouse.. I completely agree with your thoughts about what church is and isn’t... blessings to your family.”
He wrote back: “Hey, I just started reading your xanga... you seem like a person that I could really get to know and converse with... I’ll be keeping up with you... ~laterz~”
And just like that, Kel existed for me, We didn’t interact for nearly six months as he went through a time of deep grief while he cared for and eventually lost his father to brain cancer.
Even through we’d never met and hardly interacted, our connection was magnetic. The comments turned into emails and hours spend on AIM. One night I gave him my phone number on a dare over whether or not I had a “Northern Accent.”
There weren’t many phone calls at ﬁrst, but anytime I needed him, he dropped everything to chat with me. I knew I mattered to him the night he drove to work and hunted through couch cushions for his cell phone just because I asked if we could talk on the phone.
That next week I had a date and I confessed to my friend Becky that I felt like I was cheating on Kel somehow. She told me it was silly to put dating on hold for a guy in Oklahoma that I’d probably never meet. Logically, I she was right, but my heart wasn’t convinced.
Then the news came that Kel and his best friend Andy were traveling to Chicago to check out a seminary and wondered if they could swing up to meet me. When the night came for us to meet, I was beyond anxious.
As I drove to the house where Kel was staying I promised a friend I’d check in within 10 minutes in case the “internet guy” was a creep. First I saw his car, a vintage Lincoln that he drove for the comfort, nicknamed “the couch on wheels.”
Then I saw him walk across the lawn in a gray button down shirt and a pair of cut-off khakis my heart jumped and my stomach knotted up. After thousands of miles and hours on the phone, here we were, just inches apart.
Over dinner I made awkward conversation while he threw straw wrappers at me, choosing to show his interest kindergarden style. Face to face connection proved difﬁcult, the opposite of our easy breezy phone calls. When he left I wondered if I'd ever see him again.
Yet, a few months later I found an incredible deal on last minute airfare and hopped a plane to Oklahoma. As we drove together in the Lincoln, he reached for my hand and I let him hold it. The night before I ﬂew home he kissed me and I kissed him back, a lot.
When I left our relationship was hopelessly undeﬁned. He was all in but I was terribly confused and gave him an awful “maybe” when he asked if we were together. Then one night, months later, I called at 2 am to give him my “yes.”
After he graduated from the University of Oklahoma he moved to Michigan to closer to me as I ﬁnished out college. It was a hard road for him, he didn’t know anybody and the economy in Michigan was shot. We dated for another year before getting engaged and married in short order.
And now here we are on our 6th anniversary looking back over a path that’s seen us through 5 blogs, 3 states, 7 desks (we can’t commit) and 2 kids. I know him and still feel that I’ve only scratched the surface.
I had to dig for our original xanga connection comments, but now that I’ve sifted through the old blogs I’ve decided to print them out before they disappear. They’re an important piece of our quirky love story and a piece of our family history worth preserving.
Leanne Penny spends her days drinking coffee and chasing her two kids with her college-pastor husband in Ada, OK. When the kids are sleeping or decide to play with their toys she ignores the dishes and writes about her journey of hurting, healing, and choosing joy at www.leannepenny.com