And this is how it went…
I leaned on the barrier.
We’d done the whole “Zoom dates” thing, but meeting in person? This was next-level stuff! My heart was doing somersaults.
Ahhhhh, there she is! That’s her!
I darted past the crowd and opened WhatsApp. “Think I saw you! Nike trainers?”
“Haha I’m wearing leggings!”
I made a beeline for the gate and called her name. She spun around. After 11 months of dating, this was the moment. She’d landed in England.
“Hi!” She smiled.
I’ve had one serious girlfriend. We lasted three months. Other than that, my romantic experiences have all been disasters. I’d go as far as saying I’m the world’s worst dater.
Or at least I used to be.
From throwing up in bins to misreading signals, I’ve made mistakes. It’s one of the reasons I was scared to date.
I didn’t want to go through the pain again.
But I also didn’t want to keep hiding.
This was 12 months ago.
Around this time, a writer popped up. She wrote a piece about a cricket box that hooked me from the start…
I commented on her piece. She messaged back. We went back and forth on a number of articles.
At the time, I thought little of it. It was fun to connect and I liked her writing, but she was probably being nice.
Then she sent this:
“Hey! I just wanted to say that I really admire your work, and I feel like we write about similar topics. I’m looking forward to continuing to follow along!”
I responded back, inviting her to email. I like connecting with writers and thought it could be fun to get to know her better.
A few days later, I checked my inbox. There she was. She shared details of what she did, where she lived, and what brought her to the platform.
She was opening the door for conversation.
I mirrored her response and dug a little deeper. Who is this woman? We emailed more frequently and got to know each other. We opened up about our writing, our pasts, and our dreams for the future.
Her use of emojis made me smile.
One thing led to another. Before long, we agreed to jump on Zoom so we could meet each other digitally. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
My nerves melted.
We shared stories and let the hours fly. By the end, I was looking forward to the next.
We played games, went for walks, and did Netflix Parties. The connection wasn’t just through our writing.
This felt real.
It wasn’t straightforward, though. I live in England and she lives in New York. There was also the pandemic. Borders were closed and vaccines weren’t a thing.
What were we to do when we couldn’t spend time in person?
I suggested letters. We had no idea how long the travel ban would last, and becoming pen pals would help us get to know each other better.
As it turned out, the letters were good for our souls. They provided a healthy dose of anticipation and allowed us to use our love languages.
After a couple more months, cases decreased and travel could happen. Restrictions were still in place for Brits, but she’d saved up enough vacation days to make the decision.
She was going to travel to England to meet me in person!
In the weeks leading up to the trip, we created a Google doc itinerary for each day. We included a mixture of activities and sprinkled in our favourite things.
I drove to London and stayed in a hotel. When the morning came around, I made the short trip to the airport and waited at the arrivals gate.
“Think I saw you! Nike trainers?”
From the moment I saw her to the last day of the trip, I felt peace. I’ve never felt it before.
I didn’t get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. I simply enjoyed our time together and made the most of our trip.
We belted out La La Land and shook our hips to Rihanna. When we felt sleepy, we held hands and listened to Sinatra.
“That’s when you know you’ve found somebody really special. When you can just shut the f*ck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.”
— Mia Wallace, Pulp Fiction
The scenery was wonderful, and the company was even better. Time sped by, and we were able to cross almost every activity off of our checklist.
When the last day came, we didn’t want to say goodbye. We held on to each other tightly until her plane was called.
We’re quietly confident about the future. We have a beautiful connection and we’re excited to see where this could lead.
I’ll hopefully be visiting her in NY in a couple of months, and one day we might have the opportunity to live closer to each other.
What lessons have I learned?
Stay true to yourself. After a string of blows, I was starting to have doubts. Was there anyone who appreciates emojis and jazz music as much as I do?
It turns out there is.
Set your stall out early. If you fancy someone and want to take them on a date, tell them.
As the Art of Manliness puts it, “stop hanging out with women and start dating them.”
Work on number one. Thanks to therapy and hypnosis, I feel more secure, and I made myself open to connection. When you’re not looking, people find you.
I’m still not sure how this happened, but I’m so glad it did.
Here’s to many more beautiful encounters.