Sara asked me if I would be interested in giving him my phone number. And that just seemed weird to me, and forced. I was still a little not ready for the awkwardness that meeting a complete stranger and talking like you are at an interview (aka: dating) brings. I just wanted to meet the man of my dreams ...organically. Sara didn't know what I was talking about. So I said, for instance, if he just happened to fall across my blog (not this one, obvi.) and fall in love with my brain, ok. Or if we happened to meet in the farmer's market, or something. Not just a cold call. I never liked that. It seemed the same to me as a salesman knocking on my front door trying to sell me a vacuum while I was in the middle of grading papers.
I failed to mention that Mr. F. had just moved to Chicago. Therefore, we were no longer in the same town. A few weeks after he had talked to Sara about his soul mate, I got a message on Facebook from him. We had about 50 friends in common, but somehow had never met. He pointed this out and shamed Facebook for not just automatically making us friends. It was a friendly enough message, and not forward or expectant. It just seemed like he genuinely wanted to know me.
He did mention some specific things that I had written on my blog, which made me very suspicious that Sara had put him up to reading that blog, but they both swear she didn't have anything to do with that part.
And so we wrote. We wrote emails via Facebook, and letters via the post office. And soon enough, he referred to me as his pen pal. I liked that. We wrote about all the things you discuss as you are getting to know a person: the funny, the weird, the family, the dreams, the neighbors, the coworkers, the disappointments, the happinesses, the things you read. Probably a month after we'd been writing, at the end of a letter, he asked for my phone number so we could chat. And by that time, my only thought was, "Oh, how fun! I get to hear his voice!"
When he called, we talked and laughed and talked for about an hour. At the end of the hour, he said he would love to keep talking, but he didn't want to keep me for the whole evening. So, we said goodnight, and he promised to call again soon.
That tone of respect pervaded our relationship. He never assumed anything, he was always looking out for my best interest, and I never felt any pressure to be or do anything but be me. Since he gave me that space, I could relax enough and learn that this this was an amazing human I was dealing with here.
Several weeks after we had been talking on the phone, he tested the waters about meeting in person. He invited me to come to Chicago, but I was like, um. Yeah right, I don't know anyone there but you! So, he wondered aloud about coming down to visit his old town (my current town), and I encouraged that--it'd be fun. When he formally asked me to go to an ordination with him, I totally missed that he was asking me to go with him and breezed over the question, informing him I was already going! It would be so fun to see him there. He persisted. Maybe he could fly into my town, and we could drive the three hours to the ordination together. Sure! I thought this was a great idea. I assigned him to making the playlist for our journey, and I would make the snacks.
Thankfully, a three hour car drive was not the first time I met him. He came a couple weekends before that to visit his old town. He lived in that town for 4, maybe 6?, years (forgive me, pregnant brain is kicking in), so he had loads of old friends to catch up with, hang out with. I didn't want to get in the way of all that. I let him know what my weekend looked like, so that we could hang out whenever he wanted. He was welcome to do anything on my to do list with me, or hang with his old buddies.
He was to arrive Thursday afternoon, which would be perfect because our town has concerts in the town square Thursday nights. My family attended religiously, so he'd meet my family too. Thursday mid-morning, I got a call from Mr. F. telling me his flight had been delayed, which made him miss his connection. He wasn't sure when he'd be in town. Thursday evening came, and I just headed to the park with my family. In the middle of the second half of the concert, Mr. F.'s plane landed! I scurried to the airport (accidentally taking the longest route possible), and found him on the curb--white roses in one hand and a big ol' weekend bag in the other.
He'd bought the roses before his last flight, but also before he knew that he'd have a 6-hour delay. He sheepishly handed them to me, apologizing that they were wilted. But I thought they were the most beautiful half-dead roses I'd ever seen. I made a Dumb & Dumber joke about the roses--and he laughed. I was elated to see this man face to face. I knew it. I knew he was a good egg. And I was comfortable with his egginess.
We hopped into the car to go back for the last bit of the concert at the park, and not until then did I even think, oh. It's kind of a lot to meet someone's whole family right as you are just meeting that one. Hmmm. I wonder if he'll be freaked out. Well, we'll see!