*originally posted October 17, 2009
I was late to the party, the Internet party. I didn't get a computer until the mid-90s, and didn't get online until a couple of years after that. But I learned that all things happen for a reason.
I got myself an AOL and through a friend at work I learned of something called a "chat room" where you can just talk to people from all over the world. Huh? What? Huh?
But I decided to give it a shot and I found an AOL Chat Room called Gay Lifestyles and figured I'd go in. I was the quiet one in the corner until I learned to speak up, or is it type up? But I digress. I liked the chat rooms just for the fun and jokes, not for the hook-ups--there were other rooms for that sort of thing. I was single and that was okay. I'd had a couple of mini-relationships that didn't pan out and figured maybe I'd be the single guy, and that was okay. I liked my life, my job, my house, my friends. What more did I need?
But in April of 2000, I was in a chatroom and someone asked the obligatory "Where is everybody from?"
I answered "Cali here" because I'd seen other people call California by that name.
A few minutes later I got an IM from someone who asked about Cali. We chatted for a few minutes and then he asked me how long I'd lived in Cali. There was a mix-up; he was talking Cali, Colombia, and I was talking Cali California. It could have ended there but we decided to exchange emails and chat some more.
And then he suggested we talk by phone. I was already attracted to him just by what he said and the way he thought about things, and, being the shy one, I was a bit apprehensive, but said Okay.
That day I raced home from work so I could be ready for the call. There was a three hour time difference for us between Miami and Sacramento, so it was getting late for him, when my phone rang.
I remember hearing his voice that first time. I remember falling in love with that accent. I remember what we said, and how we said it, and how we wanted to talk more and share pictures and find out all we could about each other. I remember how he laughed that first time. And we talked every day and night, even with the time difference. I'd call Florida when I woke up and talk to him at work, and he'd call Sacramento before he went to bed and I was getting home from work. And we emailed and IM'd and sent packages and pictures and songs we liked. it was a long distance romance, though I wanted to decrease the space between us.
I told him I wanted to meet him and we discussed who would come where and when and how. He had no vacation time and I was ready for some time off, so I took eleven days in July off and flew to Miami. I know! Miami in July! What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I was in love. I was thinking I wanted to see Carlos face-to-face; I wanted to hear that accent in person. I wanted to know all about him. I was thinking he was 'the one.'
We met at the Ft Lauderdale airport on July 11th, 2000. He wore a bow-tie and had a bouquet of roses. He looked like his pictures, though much cuter, and he smiled so sweetly. We had lunch and then walked on the Lauderdale beach; we drove to South Beach and stayed in a hotel because his aunt was staying with him in his house and we wanted privacy. We spent a weekend in Key West and Carlos wore a sarong as we walked through town to see the sunset. I heard him play his trumpet with a volunteer orchestra he belonged to, and I met his Aunt Gloria--who became my tour-guide and friend, and aunt--while Carlos was at work. I met Dengoso, the poodle; Thomas, Scruffy, Sweety, Lady, Voncie, Spunky and Squeaky, the cats. I wanted this, this man, this life, this place.
That vacation flew by and we were both in tears at the airport not knowing what was next for us. Moving? Staying long-distance friends and lovers? What was next?
Next was a visit from Carlos to California. And a meet the family dinner. Of course, my family loved him. my Mom loved him because he loved me; my sister loved him because he's a nice guy; my brother loved him for that same reason. My Dad loved him because Carlos is Carlos, what you see is what you get. No pretense. And I took Carlos to meet my friends and we had dinners and parties and good times. San Francisco. Tea in the Japanese Garden. A drive around Lake Tahoe. Then he had to go home and, once again, we wondered what we would do next.
It didn't take long. We still called and emailed and sent things through the mail. He spoke with my parents and friends and I spoke with his family. And then, it was just clear: I would move to Miami. I didn't really have a job that I couldn't get in Florida and, well, there are times in life where you just have to, as I like to say, Shake the Etch-A-Sketch.
So, where does this all lead? It leads to today, nine years after I stepped off another plane in Florida, though this time I wouldn't be staying just a week or so. Nine years ago today Carlos and I started our life together and there was no looking back; only forward.
On this day in LGBT history, I met the man I call my partner, spouse, my husband, friend and lover. It's a
Happy Anniversary, Baby.