Homer's Travels: How Paladin Met His Sunshine

Friday, December 14, 2007

How Paladin Met His Sunshine

As I mentioned in my last Roadtrip 1995 post, the Wife and I met online. I promised myself to post about it sometime. I guess now is as good a time as any so here goes.

I had been visiting the Fox Television website looking for information on one of their new shows (Space: Above and Beyond). I came across the chat rooms and decided to lurk there for awhile to see what was happening. My username at the time was Paladin. Yeah, I played way too many computer games back then.

The Wife, then teaching at an all girls school in Omaha, had discovered a slip of paper on the classroom floor that had the address for the Fox chat rooms. She had logged on to make sure her students weren't going to someplace inappropriate. Her username was Sunshine. She was in the chat room looking for a literature chat. That is when Paladin met Sunshine.

I don't remember what we talked about that first night. It must have been something interesting as we set up a time the next day to meet again. We chatted a lot over the next three or four weeks. We even picked the name for our future dog (Homer) during our chats. We exchanged names and pictures eventually (I sent her a picture of me at Glacier NP's Scenic Point above the cloud layer). I mentioned her at work where my friends asked the obligatory: "Are you sure it's a woman?" It took very little time for me to become completely smitten.

Then something happened. I can't remember exactly what it was. I think it had something to do with someone entered the chat room and started to talk like they knew me. Whoever it was, they were talking smack and it was all a pack of lies. They were just trying to mess with us in a very mean-spirited way. This upset the Wife and I a lot. We ended up logging off in a bad mood that was telegraphed loud and clear. I remember getting up and pacing in my small apartment not knowing what to do - I felt like crap. Then the phone rang.

Back then I had a listed phone number. The Wife had called information and had gotten my number. I answered and, if I remember right, she hung up. Then she called back and this time we talked ... and talked. After talking on the phone, chatting just didn't do it for us. We ended up calling each other almost every night. That is until I got my $400+ phone bill - Ouch! We cut back on out phone calls while I investigated different phone plans. We changed plans so that we both could get reduced rates. The plan we got on offered free holiday calling to a number of your choice and we spent hours talking on those days. On New Years eve we talked for 12 hours with only a couple hour long breaks. We even watched TV together while on the phone. We were crazy kids back then.

Over the next five months or so we wooed each other over the phone and e-mail. I baked chocolate chip cookies and brownies for her and her students. We exchanged Christmas gifts. I sent her roses on Valentines (A first for both of us). I even sent a yellow rose to the school receptionist to make sure everything got to the Wife in a timely fashion. Six Months after we met, during Spring Break, I flew to Omaha to meet her in person. She picked me up at the airport and we went to a restaurant to make sure everything was O.K. We both had safety outlets - My Mom lived in Omaha and the Wife's friends called to check up on her a few times. We ended up at her place and we had a great week re-introducing ourselves. It turns out we liked each other in person as much as we did on the phone.

The Wife visited a month or two later. The first half of the visit was a little rough for some reason. We were both a little tired from work and stuff. Mid week we went for a picnic at Lake Cachuma and visited Solvang, a touristy Dutch town. We had a great time and our moods did a 180. The remainder of her stay went very well.

Her second trip out also went very well. Especially after I proposed to her. It wasn't anything fancy. We were walking into a mall and I turned to her and said, "You want to get married?" and she said "Sure." We walked straight to the jewelry store and picked out rings. The mall isn't there anymore. I think I proposed where the Home Depot is now.

When summer started I flew back there and we went to meet her family at their lake house in Iowa. We officially announced our engagement and congratulations were exchanged. I was expecting a grilling from her family but it was a lot easier than I expected. We set a date for the wedding for next summer. We figured it would be smart to give ourselves a year to let the euphoria settle and to make sure we knew what we were doing.

We left the lake house and did a roadtrip around Minnesota and the Great Lakes. Nothing like traveling with someone in a small car to see if you are comfortable together. We experienced our first Alpine Slide at Lutsen , visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, and dropped by the Wife's Alma Matter, Notre Dame (Where, once again, I tried and failed to finish a piece of One Thousand Chocolate Chip Cake at the Steak and Ale). When we got back to Omaha we had survived each other - a good sign.

Over the next year we flew back and forth spending a week together here and there. The Wife came out and we spent Christmas in a cabin outside the entrance of Sequoia. It snowed the day we got there and the trees were covered in snow - very beautiful and romantic. The lodge owner suggested we do the Ladybug Trail as it was lower in elevation and would be relatively snow free. The road to the trailhead went from a two lane road to a narrow paved road to a narrow dirt road to a narrow, rutted dirt road. If we had run into another car going the other way it would have resulted in a lot of backing up for someone. It was kind of scary in spots but well worth it as the hike was enjoyable for both of us. We even saw some Ladybugs. Along this road we encountered the rare magic black mountain cow. We turned a corner on the narrow road and there was a cow. There was a shear cliff on one side and a sharp drop on the other. We couldn't figure where it had come from hence "Magic."

After Christmas we went to Las Vegas to celebrate New Years. The strip was closed to cars and revelers were partying out in the street. We watched them blow up the old Aladdin hotel - very cool and boomerific.

At the end of the school year the wife moved out. Then the real whirlwind started. She flew in on Thursday. Interviewed at one school on Friday. We looked at a house on Saturday. We made an offer on the house on Sunday. She interviewed at another school on Monday. We received a counteroffer on the house on Tuesday. She got job offers from both schools on Tuesday. We counter-counter-offered on the house on Tuesday. We opened escrow on the house on Wednesday - a 13 day escrow. She accepted one of the job offers soon after. 12 days after opening escrow, we moved into the house. Two days later we flew back to Iowa and a week later we got married. WHEW!

After the marriage we flew to Calgary, rented a car and drove to Jasper for our honeymoon. The drive up 93 is one of the most amazing drives - ooh-aaws along the entire way through the Canadian Rockies to Jasper. Three days in Jasper and one in Banff and a day driving in between. We stayed at a place called Becker's Chalets that the Best man and Matron Of Honor had recommend. A wonderful place. In Jasper we white water rafted, took a tram up Whistler's Mountain, went out onto the Columbia Icefield glacier in a sno-cat, and did a short but spectacular hike that overlooked the icefields (we saw rams butting heads). We had a wonderful Honeymoontastic time.

We flew back to Omaha and drove the Wife's car and some of her stuff to California and the rest is history. And what an amazing history it has been. Thinking about how much luck was involved in our meeting makes my head spin. We figure that if we had passed in the street, we wouldn't have even looked at each other. The way we met online is the only way we could have met. I can't wait to see what comes next.


  1. JaG: Thanks, It was nice for me to write too. Aww, sweet memories.

  2. Such fantastic luck that the two of you found each other. What a wonderful story; thanks for sharing.

  3. GH: Thank You. I hope someday soon you will have a great story to share with us.

  4. Sorry I'm a little late for this comment.

    That's a really beautiful story.

    Besides, my mother met her current friend online as well. It's been going on for a while now. I guess you never know what can happen...

  5. Gany: It's never too late to comment. I like to read what other people think.

    Thank you. I had a great time looking back and writing this down.

    Back in 1996-1997 when we were preparing for the wedding, we were surprised to find out how many other people had met online. We were our priest's second online couple.