- “I’m not trying to hide you from the Internet. It’s just that my blog isn’t about every detail of my romantic life. I’m a very private person!”
- “Fine. All I’m trying to say is that I think the people want more R, Jess.”
And so, in a spirit of today is Valentine’s Day, here it finally is – the story of how I met R – whose name is Robby, but I think we’ll stick with R.
Sometime last April I received an unexpected Facebook message from a college friend who I’d kept in loose contact with over the years since graduation. She’s a fantastic girl, and our friend groups were always intertwined, but I was surprised to read what the message said:
Listen, I’m not sure if you’re seeing anyone, or if you want to be, and I’m sorry if this is a little bold of me, but I have this friend in L.A. that I think you’d really like, so let me know the next time you’re on the west coast for work and I’ll introduce you two. Who knows, could make for a fun cross-country romance.
There are people you expect to set you up – a family member, a roommate, a co-worker – and people you don’t. It’s not that I didn’t think this friend could identify a good guy for me, I just didn’t think I was on her radar of people to yenta.
And apparently, the way she explained it, I wasn’t. “I don’t know how it popped into my head,” she told me months after,” I had just seen him, and then I was reading your blog, and it just clicked.” (In her honor I’ve since committed to spending less time thinking of outfits and more time thinking of others.)
At the time I lived in New York (as did this friend) but was making trips to L.A. for work, but this friend didn’t know that. She also didn’t know that I was very seriously considering moving to L.A. and had already begun the process of finding work out there (here). And she had no idea that I was planning my next trip when she sent the message, that it would be in less than a month and that she would also be in L.A. that same week. It was too many coincidences for even a cynic to ignore.
It wasn’t until months after we met that I found out my friend had barely mentioned me to R before I joined them for a drink in L.A. at The Darkroom. I assumed he’d been prepped to turn on the charm and make a good impression.
- “I didn’t know anything about you,” R later told me, “Why? Did you know a lot about me?”
- “Well, only what I could get off a minimally invasive Facebook stalk and fairly dead-end Google search.”
- “You Googled me? Ha. That’s so cool.”
Apparently all my friend had said to R was, “there’s going to be this girl Jessie there who you might like.” Which was smart because I then realized his behavior toward me was genuine. (Something to think about when setting people up in the future.)
In hindsight it’s too easy to say that we hit it off right away, so I’ll just say that I was immediately drawn to him and we spent the rest of the night talking about all those first-date things that you forget immediately and have to awkwardly re-learn throughout the relationship. We were there for three, maybe four hours? And yes, there was kissing.
- “And you have to tell them about the juke box.”
- “What about it?”
- “About how we went to the juke box and picked songs together and that’s when we really knew we liked each other.”
- “I’m not going to tell them that! That’s sooo cheesy.”
- “No it’s not, it’s romantic. Just tell them. They’ll love it.”
Please see above (blush).
That was the first night of my week-long trip to L.A. R made a point to take me out on a proper date another night that week, and things went just as well as they had the night we met.
But again, at the time I lived in New York, so my thoughts of what could become of this were minimal. I didn’t know which end was up at the time, and truly the last thing on my mind was starting a long-distance relationship after 1.5 dates.
- “Yeah but I knew it would work out eventually.”
- “What?! How could you have known? We barely knew each other.”
- “I had a good feeling about it.”
It was that bizarre yet quiet confidence that I was so attracted to as we got to know each other over phone calls, e-mails, and games of Scrabulous. We didn’t have the chance to get drunk and make stupid early-on dating mistakes. There wasn’t the awkwardness of having to manage the hooking up versus really dating thing. We just slowly got to know each other.
R’s family is from NJ/NY so he came East for the 4th of July and we fit in a NYC date. I went back to L.A. in August to make more progress on my potential move and we saw more of each other then.
- “You forgot the part about the flowers.”
- “I’m not including that on purpose.”
- “Jess! Come on. That was my best move!”
And on that in August trip R surprised me with the wildly impressive move of arranging for an insane bouquet of flowers to be waiting for me in the hotel where I was staying. Note included. I may or may not have a picture of them on my cell phone, whiiich I sent to not-so-short list of people…
R came east again for an annual high school reunion that happened to fall on the week of my birthday, so he was there for the celebration. And by then, I’d decided to move to L.A.
Now here’s the part that R does not enjoy.
I did not intend to move to L.A. with a boyfriend. I was going through a major, major life change that had me in a total tailspin. I’d just left my entire family three thousand miles away. I was switching careers from something stable to something totally unknown. And, and this is his least favorite part, I was planning to play the L.A. field. I write a blog about it for crying out loud, how could I move to a brand new city and totally check myself out of the dating game?
I didn’t put R on the back burner when I got to town, but I was very careful about the amount of time we were spending together those first few weeks. I am a commitment-phobe with a dangerously fierce sense of independence. I wasn’t about to let a guy define my great, L.A. adventure.
- “I knew what was up.”
- “You did not! I had you shaking in your boots.”
- “Nah. I told you. I knew it would be fine.”
The rest is a strangely uncomplicated story for a girl who specializes in complicated stories. I loved being with him, he seemed to love being with me, and so we kept making plans, going on dates, and introducing each other to our individual groups of friends. I tried to keep the level of time spent together reasonable, but it got to the point where it felt ridiculous to deny something that felt more right than any dating situation had before.
- “That’s because I mastered the slow play.”
- “Does that involve wearing your heart on your sleeve and building all my IKEA furniture.”
- “Allll part of it, Jess.”
We made it official in early October, the night of my housewarming party.
- “I think you just tricked me into being your girlfriend.”
- “SSsshhhh, let’s just savor the moment.”
The rest is still a very brief history that I am not embarrassed to call among the greatest surprises of my life. I’ll spare you the details of what makes what we have work, but I will say that a big part of it is how hard we’re both trying to take care of each other and how little effort it actually takes.
- “Do you know what I really thought when I was trying to figure out what to do about you?” I said to R the other day.
- “That you’d never find someone this funny?”
- “Still no. I thought, if I don’t give this a go then someone else might get him, and I’m not willing to take that risk.”
- “Wow. Look at you.”
- “I know. I’ve come a long way haven’t I?”
- “Yeah, but I told you it would work out from the beginning.”
- “How were you so sure?!?”
- “I don’t know. I just was.”
And there you have it.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Spend it celebrating people you love, no matter what their title is in your life. I’ll be spending mine being grateful that I got out of my own way and into something wonderful.