It was 2003 and I’d been single for six months. It felt great but I was starting to get lonely. So, I joined an online dating site.
I’d had a profile there for two weeks when I got a “smile” from someone named “MaxtheApe.” “Smiles” were the little hint that someone was interested in you. I read his profile and he seemed like an okay guy on paper, so I “smiled” back. Now, I’d done some long-distance dating before because I’d had boyfriends move away. I’d vowed to never do it again because it was so hard. And “MaxtheApe” lived in Nebraska, halfway across the country from me in Georgia.
Then, I got a note from “MaxtheApe.” I was instantly smitten with his writing. He wrote to me like a real person, not with any of this shorthand gobbledy-gook I’d received from other people I didn’t know online. Here is what he wrote:
Thank you, ever so kindly, for the smile. It is a rare pleasure to stumble across someone with whom I share so many interests, and such a common background.
Ah, where have my manners gone? My name is Jared.
I must confess an immense curiosity in regards to your experience as a Religious Studies major. I have a Philosophy/ Religion major, and I also find that the narrow view of my youth no longer suits the person I am today, or the person I aspire to be. If you ever feel inclined toward sharing your thoughts, I would be honored.
I did have to laugh a bit (with, not at) about your list of “loves.” Cheese simply isn’t something that often appears first on a person’s list. I quite agree with the choice, though. 🙂 My cat also finds his way into my heart, though often times it seems more though his attempt to claw his way through it, rather than the standard affection. I’d not give him up willingly, though. And should spaghetti (or pasta in almost any form) not be found near the top of my favorites list, rest assured that it is only the result of a terrible oversight on my part.
I am left to wonder if one of those thick books on your shelf might, perchance, be Les Miserables? It is one of my favorites, and it was with no small measure of delight that I finally managed to make it to a live performance of the musical version just this past year. If not Les Miserables, may I ask what are some of those unread books?
For the time being, I must bring this letter to a close. Work clutters my desk, and diving headlong into it seems the only solution. I hope this finds you well, and enjoying a beautiful summer day.
Jared (Max the Ape)
His note still makes me laugh at myself and what I’d put in that silly profile. I just loved his writing style. So, I wrote back.
I have to admit that yes, Les Miserables is one of those books on the shelf I haven’t gotten around to finishing. I’m absolutely nuts about the musical, and I’ll see it for the third time this next September. Glad you’re acquainted with it– not too many people tend to pick up on hte reason for the nickname! My name is Caroline.
I chose Religious Studies as a major completely on a whim; I had no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided it would be best to study something that at least sounded interesting. The downside is that I’ve constantly had to answer the question, “And what exactly can you do with that sort of degree?” I think I’ve found my calling in non-profits. But it’s not too often that I’ve found someone else out there with a similar educational experience, so I couldn’t resist contacting you! I’d be happy to discuss anything you wish on the subject.
I don’t know that I’d describe our current weather just south of Atlanta as a “beautiful summer day”; we’re dealing with the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill. Got five and a half inches of rain yesterday! But for now it’s just overcast– at least it’s not terribly hot. Hope your weather’s a bit better.
If you’d like to continue our discussion, please feel free to email me at [email address no longer in use]. I hope to hear from you soon!
Over the next three months, I gradually started pouring my heart out to Jared via e-mail, online chat, and eventually the phone. It was true that I had tickets to the musical version of Les Miserables, but I’d already made plans to go with another man. It was miserable and I wanted over and over to cancel. What made it worse was, at the time we went to see the show, as I was getting closer and closer to Jared, the other man was becoming ready to be serious about me. I’d been seeing him on and off for five years at that point and it was time to break things off for good. I did so after we went to see the show.
Then I found out that tickets were still on sale for the second week of the show. So Friday night, September 19, 2003 (not even four months since that first e-mail), I picked Jared up from the airport, with the musical on our agenda for the weekend. It was a wonderfully romantic excuse to get to meet him. I must have dragged Jared to all my favorite spots around town…we went to Stone Mountain, he met my parents, we went to the show. We picked up a dessert of key lime pie after the show and went back to his room and just talked, and laughed, and I’d brought along some music so we could dance. I’d never been around a man who really wanted to get to know me, a real old-fashioned gentleman. I was the forward one in this situation.
We went to Panola Mountain State Park on the way to the back to the airport. There, deep in the woods on one of the trails, Jared told me for the first time that he loved me, and he kissed me. It remains one of the most beautiful moments of our relationship. I’ll treasure that memory for the rest of my life.
Here we are nine summers since I spent most of my time in my room chatting with Jared. We’ve become lost in the daily grind of taking care of Porter and Liam, of taking care of other responsibilities. I rarely stop to read those courtship letters from long ago and, though I remember very well the feelings and I still feel and return the strength of Jared’s love, I think we both just get so wrapped up in our current lives to remember the passion and just plain fun of those early days. We had to make such monumental plans to see each other over the course of our dating life and now that we live together, it’s easy to forget how much we missed each other between visits. It made the relationship all the more precious.
And so, Sweetheart, when you read this, please remember these words, because they’re still true…
The thing is, it’s not too good to be true. It was only yesterday I was still seeing what I once thought was “too good to be true” in the eyes of the wonderful man who stood opposite me deep in the trails of Panola Mountain.
I love my Jared. My husband. My best friend. My soulmate.