She and I
It was Sunday night. 2am… which would technically make it Monday morning. I was staying up too late, as usual, probably watching videos in my dark room, procrastinating bed. It’s a bad habit. Eventually, I stood up, turned off the monitor, closed my laptop, and headed toward my bed. Before I got settled, I was interrupted by that iPhone Tri-Tone sound we all know so well, paired with my phone lighting up, drawing my curiosity. I approached it, wondering what it could be, and was met with a notification:
TornadoTara has sent you a message!
I didn’t know this girl. I’ve been on OkCupid for years. I’ve met romantic interests that fizzled out, ones that turned into friends, and ones that turned into ex-girlfriends. I don’t take it very seriously, as is made apparent by the fact that the most private thing I’m willing to admit on my profile is that I ‘once saved Christmas’, and have a joke about semicolons in the ‘about me’ section. Still, it’s nice to receive messages.
I swiped the notification to the right and punched in my password. My phone opened directly to the message, and I read:
I live 880 miles from you, and I will likely never meet you.
I just wanted you to know that I sort of wish I could.
Also that you’re cute and I’m really glad that, regardless of the fact our lives will never cross, there are cute artists repping the semicolon out there in the world.
Carry on being fantastic.
I smiled. It was a very sweet message, and I appreciated the sentiment, even from a complete stranger. I touched her face on my phone, opening her profile. I read through the entire thing. I looked through her pictures, her answers to private questions, and as I did, my smile became paired by eyes squinting curiously. Who was this girl? How did she find me? And why did I find her so intriguing?
Now, OkCupid has questions you can answer, and check off what answer your ideal partner would give, along with how important the subject matter is to you. It takes these questions and filters them through an algorithm to determine how compatible you are with another user, based on your answers to the same questions. Knowing this, I glanced up at Tara’s profile header, curious as to what this number could be. It read:
99% Match | 1% Enemy
24 • F • St. Paul, MN (880 Miles)
I shouldn’t have been so surprised. It was obvious that we did have a lot in common. She talked about her affinity for tea. A photo of her with a ukulele. She liked Wes Anderson films. A photo of her with victory curls, with a hammy smile holding a can of a drink called ‘Soda Shaq’. She was an artist. A photo of her in an R2-D2 bathing suit.
I had seen 99% matches before. Thing is, they never came about organically, and certainly not from 880 miles away. They came when curiosity got the better part of you, and you set your match range to unlimited, and sorted by top percentages. I had done this before, but thought that surely I was the only person who did such things. I wrote back:
I currently lie in my bed in upstate New York lamenting the distance between us.
When I read your message, I did so with a huge smile. Which is now even broader now that I read your profile. We have so much in common it’s almost eerie.
Tea, Ukulele, artistry, taste in TV shows, board and card and video games, Ray Bradbury, Wes Anderson, and to top it all off, we are apparently a 99% match, a fact which I’m willing to bet you found out because you did a late night search to see who your top matches in the country/world are, something I’ve done many times and assumed only I do. I’d also wager you’ve looked up enemy percentages and sent out requests to duel. I think we’d get along fine.
You are beautiful, and were we closer, I’d insist on an evening in where we cook food, drink Lapsang Souchong, watch Royal Tenenbaums, talk about art, laugh at each other’s stories, and sing duets on our ukuleles.
So while it’s true we may never meet, what say we stay in touch, on the offchance one of us is closer someday? I could always use a penal.
And it’s true, I would have been completely content with a penpal. I didn’t know this girl. Until this moment, St. Paul was a place that was as far from my mind as anything, and I had no real reason to go there.
She wrote back, surprised I had replied at all, and we began to talk. We shared at least 8 of these messages on the first day… 4 back and forths. We called them letters… they always began with the other person’s name, and ended with ours. Very formal. Very traditional, but technologically new.
As I said before, I’m not really sure what it was about her that made me so curious. In that first week alone, we fell into a simple routine.
She would write me at night while I slept.
I would wake up and write her back before work.
She would wake up and write me back before work.
I would write her back on lunch.
She would write me back between jobs.
I would write back when I got home.
Our interactions even now are rife with routine and patterns.
Within three days, I had entertained the idea of buying a plane ticket to visit, something that seemed completely crazy and out of the norm for myself, but it was just that. An idea. But that was crazy. Right? I didn’t know this girl.
Since we both liked Wes Anderson films, she suggested that Friday we go on a date to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, where we would both go see the movie at the same time, and then speak on the phone for the first time over dinner afterward. So we did. We accounted for the time difference, and had a wonderful first date. We both enjoyed the movie, and afterward I sat in the Wegman’s food court with some pre-made sushi (I wanted a quiet place). Halfway through my meal, my phone rang with a Minnesota area code, and I let it ring, for just a second, before I picked it up and said ‘Hello, Tara’. A girl spoke back. I didn’t know this girl. And she spoke back, ‘Hello, Edd.”
The way she said my name felt really nice. She would always tag it onto the end of sentences, like she was personalizing them just for me. It’s amazing how much different ‘Tell me about your day, Edd.’ sounds than the more informal option.
That phone call spiraled us into the future. We began to speak on the phone every night. Soon we began to Skype, so we could see each other and really feel as if we were interacting. Then we were mailing each other. Imagine, a piece of writing, just for me, from her, sprayed with her perfume, that traveled 880 miles just for me.
Eventually we came to the question of the other people in our lives. Partners. The closer partners. The people that made each of us uncomfortable to talk about because we didn’t know what was happening when we weren’t on the screen with each other. So I decided to give the other people up. It was the first time I realized that maybe, sometimes, you meet someone who makes you want to do something that is entirely different, and even strange to you. But you do it, because it’s important to them.
I’ve spoken to her every day since that first message, and everything was wonderful.
Around my birthday, I bought a plane ticket. The visit overlapped with her birthday, and would be the longest I was away from home, as well as my first time flying, or even being in another time zone. The countdown began at around 100 days. At the time of my writing this, it is zero days. It is less than 24 hours. It is less than 12 hours, even. Soon, I will go to bed, I will wake up at 3:30am, I will go to Syracuse, I will fly 880 miles to St. Paul, Minnesota, and I will kiss a kiss that has had five months of leadup.
I entertained the idea of buying a plane ticket to visit, something that seemed completely crazy and out of the norm for myself, but it is an idea that turned into a reality. And maybe what I’m doing is crazy.
But I know this girl.
Anonymous asked: do u always ignore your messages on facebook?
I try not to ignore any messages anywhere, dear Anon. I apologize if I have done so with you, but maybe confront me about it on actual Facebook instead of on here where I have no idea of knowing who you are? As soon as I got this, I checked my inbox to see who I’ve possibly been ignoring, but I honestly am not sure who you are.