I have decided to write mine and Matt’s love story, for posterity’s sake. This is the beginning, from my perspective. I’m hoping he will share his, as well.
After my last relationship ended, I decided that I was going to start dating. Problem was, the type of man that I was interested in dating is few and far between in my neck of the woods. Not to mention, how do you go about meeting men? It wasn’t that I couldn’t meet “a” guy.It was the easiest thing in the world to sit down at a bar and have a guy buy you a drink. I wasn’t interested in just any guy, though. I wanted to find a guy that suited me, and I had a long list of criteria. He needed to be intelligent, above all, and kind. He needed to respect me, and like me for who I am. Those things were non-negotiable, but I also wanted a man who was a Christian, who was funny, and who had good grammar. If he was good-looking, too, that would be the icing on the cake. I wasn’t looking for marriage. I just wanted a boyfriend…someone to hang out with and do stuff with. I decided that the best way to go was an online dating site.
It felt a little weird at first, but it also seemed like the most logical way to meet the type of man I was interested in. Over the course of about three months, I went out with several men. I don’t have any online dating horror stories to share. All of the men that I went out with were nice and respectful and treated me like a lady. I enjoyed almost every date I went on, but none of the guys were right for me. I could have went on dating these guys, but I knew there was no future there. I tried dating a couple of them anyway, just for the companionship, but they were really into me. I felt like I continuing to date them when they obviously liked me more than I liked them would be wrong. One guy even offered to help pay for my college if I needed it. These guys were way more into me than I was into them, so that put a kink in my casual dating plans. Turns out, guys have feelings, too. Who knew? So, I was considering just cancelling my account and waiting to meet someone the old fashioned way.
While I was considering this, I got a message from a man whose profile I hadn’t seen. His profile picture was him in uniform, and his screen-name was dadof2. The tagline on his profile said, “If you’re lookin’ for your bad boy, you ain’t lookin’ for me.” That told me a lot about him before I ever even opened his message. He was so sweet, and he ended his first, short message with, “I hope this isn’t too forward, but you have beautiful eyes.” I messaged him back right away, and we hit it off immediately. After a few back and forth messages, I said, “My name is Rachel, by the way.” He replied, “Nice to meet you, Rachel. I guess that’s a good place to start. My name is Matt.”
I gave him my number pretty quickly, and we started texting each other. He was the first guy that I really wanted to ask me out before he did. I’m sure I was overly eager to say yes when he finally did ask me out. He suggested that we go on a picnic at Frozen Head State Park. He hit it out of the ball park with that one, not knowing that Frozen Head is one of my favorite places. The only problem was that I had never met him, and it was against every dating rule I had to get in a vehicle with a man I had just met and ride forty minutes from my own car to hang out in the woods where my cell phone didn’t work. For some reason, though, I didn’t have any apprehension about it at all. I told Amy where I was going, but other than that, I threw caution to the wind.
We went on our first date on September 15. We met in the Kroger parking lot. Just in case I didn’t like him in person, I didn’t think he needed to know where I lived. He pulled up in a pickup truck, and I was all smiles. He was so handsome in person. He was wearing jeans, a button up shirt, and a brown hat that had the silhouette of pine trees in front of a sun on the front of it that said “Morning Wood Lumber Company”. I didn’t notice what his hat said till later on, but I laughed out loud when I did. I hopped out of my car, and we introduced ourselves. It’s always slightly awkward, that first meeting, but ours was the least awkward I had experienced. He just seemed so friendly and sure of himself. It was very attractive. He opened the truck door for me, and I climbed in. As we drove away, I had a few excited butterflies, but, for the most part, I felt very relaxed.
The best way I know to describe those first few moments of getting to know each other is that I felt at home. He felt familiar to me. As we drove, listening to country music, and talking about all the things you talk about when you’re meeting someone new, I just felt like we were already friends. Conversation was so easy. His smile was so engaging. I knew that this guy was different.
By the time we entered the park, the butterflies were long gone, and we were both talking so easily. I pointed out some of my favorite things, and we stopped at some secluded picnic tables beside of the creek. He carried the picnic basket to the table, spread out a tablecloth, and unpacked a perfectly lovely picnic. Everything from chips and pinwheel sandwiches to cookies and sweet tea. It was so perfectly picturesque. After we sat down before his wonderful spread, he bowed his head to say a blessing. I could tell by the way that he talked to God that it was something he did regularly, and I liked him even more.
After our picnic, we drove up to the Panther Branch trail head to go on a hike. As we walked through the woods side by side, we told each other our entire life stories. I told him all about my marriage, including my painful divorce, and all of the ways I contributed to it. I told him about my relationship with Amy. I told him about my children. In return, he told me his story. We hiked to the highest waterfall, sat on some rocks, and talked for at least an hour. It never felt like oversharing. It felt perfectly natural to open up to this man. Part of it was planned. I fully intended to show him all my dirty laundry right off the bat. I didn’t want to risk falling for someone only to have them change their mind about me after I opened up to them. The part that wasn’t planned was how I wanted to tell him everything else. I wanted him to know who I was, and how I became who I was. By the time we left the park, we were fast friends.
On the drive home, I let myself start thinking ahead. Surely he would ask me on another date, but for some reason I got a little nervous. Did he know how into him I was? Was he just as interested in me? Was he going to try to kiss me? I had a rule that I didn’t kiss on first dates, and, other than a sneak attack from this one guy who I was not at all into, I never had. I decided on the way back to my car that, if he tried to kiss me, I would definitely let him. I don’t remember what I said to him on the way back, but I made it obvious that I wanted a second date if he did.
When we got out of the truck, he walked around, and, for the first time, he looked a little nervous. I knew he was going to be a gentleman and not try to kiss me that night, so I stepped toward him for a hug. He wrapped his arms around me for just a moment, but, as I leaned into his hard, muscled chest, I knew that it would not be the last time. He opened my car door for me, and I got in. I didn’t want to leave him, but we had already spent five hours together.
I felt high on the drive home. When I got there, I told Amy, “I could marry this man.”
Somehow, I was pretty sure I would.
(This is the first photo of Matt and I together. It wasn’t taken on our first date, but a few weeks later.)