There are two sides to every coin, and every person has their own story. It seems only fair to give voice to both!
I remember getting a message through an online dating website from this guy. He seemed attractive (it's always hard to tell from a handful of pictures) and put together, but the more impressive part: he was hilarious. And smart. And cited favorite authors on his profile that I never expected to associate with a guy in LA - poets like Mary Oliver and writers like Henri Nouwen. But I was done with online dating and more or less done with LA. So I told him that if he wanted the answers to his questions, he'd have to take me out. And to my surprise, he did!
Our first date was at a Korean tea house. Neither of us had been to one before, and we rifled through the tea selection while sizing each other up. The nervousness soon melted away, however, as Ryan's humor, curiosity, and kindness came out to play. Before I knew it, darkness had fallen outside. I checked the time and reminded Ryan of a previous engagement he had mentioned earlier, and our date came to a startled and embarrassed close.
He had seemed nice, but I wasn't hopeful. I thought I knew how guys in LA operated. And so, when Ryan wrote me through the dating website that evening, I more or less ignored his message, reading too far between the lines and refusing to get my hopes up. Three days later, though, I had another message - funny and quirky and adorable. This guy, I thought, is persistent.
Persistence, patience, and perseverance have become the hallmark of our relationship. Sustaining budding feelings while juggling our own jobs, lives, and a commute than can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour was not easy. I probably would have thrown in the towel earlier if Ryan would have let me. But he continued to pursue me and our relationship.
After only a few months, he followed me home to Texas, to meet my family and celebrate my mom's birthday. A month or so later, he told me he loved me. And I told him I loved him, too, whispered under the LA stars and the bright beams of the LACMA lights. As I looked at Ryan's face that night, and felt those words come out of my mouth, almost outside of my control, I knew my fate was sealed. This man, this wonderful human being, had stolen my heart, and I was happy for it.
I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to stand with you, our family and friends, in April and say those words to Ryan again - loudly and publicly. And two other words, too...I do. Because I really do. I do choose to live the rest of my life with him, no matter what. I do want to give him my love in the small and sacrificial ways that really matter. I absolutely cannot wait!
Elle and I met on OkCupid, a free dating website that helps connect like-minded people in the frenetic mess of LA. I signed up initially feeling unready to begin a long relationship, but wanting to meet lots of new and different people and learn all about them. In this respect, my time on the site was an utter failure... after a week, I initiated my first (and last) conversation on the site, and in two more weeks I went on my first (and last) first date on a drizzly November 12 in Los Angeles.
We met at a Korean tea-house, and our first date, from my point of view, was superb. We talked for 3.5 hours before I had the thought to check my watch, leaving me flush with enthusiasm for a second date (and 90 minutes late for my evening plans with friends, all of whom heard all about this nurse from Boston College). Our next few dates included walks through our neighborhoods, a moonlit hike, movies, roommates, and pomegranate margaritas. I did my best to listen more than talk, and in that month I learned many of the most important things I know about Elle: she approaches life with maturity, passion, and a depth of faith; she loves her family fiercely; she has a brilliant mind, a quick wit, and a palpably joyful laugh. When she left for a two-week Christmas vacation, my world seemed to get darker (and not only because of the proximity of the winter solstice). By the time she got back to LA, my long-relationship reticence had vanished; I knew I wanted to keep Elle in my life for as long as she’d stay!
All was not, of course, entirely smooth sailing (to borrow a maritime metaphor from Elle's childhood). We each took our time trusting that the other would stick around, and we each encountered stresses in our work, our other relationships, and balancing all of them with our new relationship with each other. Through it all, however, those qualities I love about Elle and the increasing resonance we felt with one another were a beacon bright enough to melt away many shadows, and we continued to find our way forward.
Over time, we encountered the well-meaning curiosity of each other's family and friends (one of mine quizzed Elle about, among other things, her high school GPA) and began to cultivate those all-important relationships with parents and siblings that are growing into our new extended families. We have each been blessed with many loving relationships, and we've been equally blessed to experience the open-armed hospitality of families excited to receive a new prospective son, daughter, sister, and brother. Elle and I can’t wait to celebrate that transition with all of you this April!