I Fell In Love Online--But Here's What Happened When We Met In Person
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You’ve got to spend some time, love
You’ve got to spend some time with me
“We’ll be lovers,” he wrote. “Lovers at last.”
With a mere six words, he nailed my intentions to the floor. I tested the waters and called him my Online Boyfriend.
"Boyfriend,” he wrote back. “I like that.” Writing the words didn’t make him my boyfriend, but it did mean we were [maybe] onto Something Big.
Even though I had a few hang-ups about his polyamory, I just knew that I had to meet him in-person. None of what we were building online and over the phone could move forward if we didn’t meet face-to-face and spend real time together, not hours interrupted by meals and work and the minutiae of life in between our online missives to one another. Being in a relationship requires significant corporeal input – time measured in long touches, kisses, staring at each other across the table, sharing spontaneous ideas while holding hands. I couldn’t even think about saying “I love you” if I wasn’t right next to him.
We picked a week that I would fly out to visit him in his city, but I waited until the end of one month of talking to him so that I could be “sure” we weren’t sick of each other already. I didn’t know then that you can never be “sure.” I remember that I was trembling as I entered my credit card number into online ticketing.
“Last chance to back out,” I wrote.
He didn’t hesitate to reply, “Go ahead and buy it.”
I made a rule that we wouldn’t sleep together unless we were both single by the time I went to meet him. It turned out to be a non-issue. As fate would have it, things fizzled in his open relationship and he was feeling pumped up from the self-esteem boost that comes in being the one to end a relationship, The Dumper as opposed to The Dumped. He wrote a song about the break-up a few days before my flight. “I'll treat someone else right,” he sang. “And she'll be monogamous.”
I wore rosewater perfume (his favorite scent) on a cross-country flight with a connection in Denver, spritzing myself in various airport bathrooms with a travel-sized bottle in order to keep myself calm. It wasn’t that I hadn’t gone on long trips before. I had flown solo to Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine, to Madrid and Paris and Amsterdam, Berlin and Dublin. But there was never any potential lover waiting for me on the other side of those flights. After landing, my carry-on suitcase seemed to find every crack in the sidewalk as I raced to find him. There was no need to run. He was already waiting for me in Baggage Claim, a bouquet of purple flowers in his outstretched hands.
There had been some discussion beforehand about the particulars of our first kiss. He wanted to commence making-out immediately upon meeting me, with little regard for the people watching us. My vision for that moment was somewhat different. I wanted a long walk outdoors, both of us away from prying eyes, time to build up some tension (never mind that we had months of sexual tension between us by this point). As predicted, I got my way: we merely hugged with enthusiasm, kissed each other’s cheeks, and held hands at the airport, his left arm wrapped around my shoulder when we sat next to each other on the train.