This is my valentine story. It’s not all flowery and romantic, but it’s mine.
I met my husband in 1996. November. In “College Corner.” On AOL. Yes. I met my husband on American Online back when they first started giving out the “unlimited” CD’s that you could find everywhere. I got my first computer in September, and had used a Brother Word Processor through grad school. Prior to that, I was a computer lab/typewriter girl (how old am I?). I got on the internet in October using a free Prodigy trial. I really liked it, but my dad wanted to try all of the different providers, so we tried out AOL for November. My screen name was Sylko because Silko was taken. Leslie Marmon Silko is one of my favorite writers.
So I met Zakur in College Corner. We had both just turned 25. It was his mother’s birthday, though she died when he was ten. We were both new to AOL, though he was a bit newer. It was his first day. It was my third week. We went into a “private chatroom” that night to converse more easily. It was nice, but that was it.
A few days later, ran into each other again online, then more and more. Then he went to Argentina. Oops, I missed him! What the heck? He’s nobody. Just a name on a screen. I didn’t even know his real name! He was Zakur, I was Sylko. That’s it. I’m done. I refuse to start to like someone I’ve never met. A few weeks go by. Shouldn’t he be back? I send him an email. Welcome back! I say. It arrives on the day he returned. Why did I send it? My New Year’s Resolution is to have “no regrets.” I was tired of regretting everything I did or didn’t do. I was boring. Not adventurous. Safe.
We kept chatting about all sorts of things, but nothing romantic. I refused to fall for a stranger. Then on February 13, he asked to meet me “tomorrow.” No. No, I don’t want to meet you. I like this chatting thing we have going on, and I don’t want to ruin it. “C’mon. I’ll be in the area to tour the Maritime Academy in Vallejo, and then staying with a friend in Sacramento for the weekend.” No. Don’t want to meet. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” I’ll think about it overnight. Call me tomorrow and I’ll let you know. Oh, god, tomorrow is valentine’s day. I can’t meet him on valentine’s day! I’ve never had a date on valentine’s day, but this isn’t a date, so you still don’t have one. Aaaaaa! You have to meet him or you’ll regret it.
What was I thinking? Of course I couldn’t meet him. He could be a killer! He could be a freak! Aarrgghh. He called. I went. He said my voice made him nervous. That he was confident until he heard me speak, and then he said I sounded like such a woman.
We met. I almost didn’t. I almost walked by him. I saw him. He was tall, he was wearing a white turtleneck. He was CUTE! I wasn’t expecting cute. I was expecting dorky. I started to pass him by, but he stopped me. We hadn’t exchanged pictures, but he said he could tell by the way I looked at him without looking at him. We talked. He gave me a stuffed lion holding a small box of heart shaped red hots. When it was over, I went to the store and bought Cherry Garcia ice cream. I thought it was a disaster. He was very quiet, like he was recording our entire conversation.
The next day at Fencing lessons (the year of no regrets, remember?), I kept thinking about him. Would he be online on Sunday? If he was, would he talk to me?
Sunday. Online. Chatting with best friend from high school. Zakur pops in. “Hello” he’s still talking to me! I must have been less obnoxious than I thought.
We keep chatting, and made plans to meet again in person halfway between where I lived and where he lived (he was 5 hours away). Again, I talked incessantly. I talk a lot when I’m nervous. We hugged. We watched Return of the Jedi in the re-release with extra special effects. We watched the comet Hale-Bop in the sky.
We chatted more. We were online together a lot. We met each other at my house so he could meet my parents. My mother said she knew I would marry him when she met him. I drove to see him a couple times a month. We went to Disneyland together, but spent more time outside the park talking, than inside the park having fun.
In November 1997, almost a year after we met online, he proposed. We went to see Gattaca. He wrote a poem. It said at the end “Tonight let our love move further Never with Out the stars In an endless unity, unbroken.”
“Do you get it?” He asked. Hmm, seems like he’s asking me to marry him, but maybe not.
“No. Do you get it.” Then, remembering the two other poems he wrote for me, both of which spelled out something, I looked again. The poem which he centered on the paper and used a fancy font to hide the message, spelled out “Will You Marry Me, Toni.” I looked up, and there was a ring. I accepted.
His dad objected vehemently. He really hated me. But now that I’ve given him four adorable grandchildren, I’m okay with him.
We didn’t get married until 1999. I converted to Catholicism, which is a year long process, and not only did I like the religion, I wanted his dad to know this was real. My mother was raised Catholic, so I think it’s in my genes (she also returned to Catholicism, and got confirmed a couple of years ago). Our anniversary is not as special as Valentine’s day—the day we met, and November 9th, the day he proposed (so I would be one year older—we’re eleven days apart), but it’s number 11 this year.
That’s my Valentine Story.