I had my modem set to check my e-mail once an hour. Many times I couldn’t wait though for the computer to wake up from its sleep and the modem to start its screeching. I had put myself OUT there, and I was a nervous wreck.
About 24 hours later, I heard that familiar voice.

“You’ve got mail.”

I can’t remember exactly what his message said. I know he asked me some questions about where I had been the last eight years since we graduated from high school. So, I had to write back. I made sure to wait at least an entire day before sending my reply. I didn’t want to seem too interested.
I was living in Springfield, Ill., at the time. I was a newspaper reporter, working in the state Capitol Building. One of my main “beats” was the Illinois Department of Corrections. I had been covering a death penalty case and somehow the subject came up. For several e-mails, we chatted about the death penalty. I didn’t really care if he was for it or against it. I was just impressed he had some thoughts about it.
He lived in a university town in Mississippi, and he was proud of the fact that he had managed to get a password into the Internet on campus. That was what he used to check his e-mail. At some point in our string of conversations, I realized he also used the university’s Internet to look up some of my articles on line. He was spying on me.
For the next few months, we would e-mail almost daily. One time, I didn’t get an e-mail for several days.
“That’s it,” I decided. He must have met some cute Mississippi girl and forgotten completely about me. When he finally wrote back three days later, he apologized profusely. He had been sent on a work trip to Texas and couldn’t write. He checked for my message the minute he got home.
This was perfect. I had lived by myself for five years already, and I was accustomed to having the freedom to do my thing: hanging out with friends on the weekends, working late when I needed to, going for bike rides in Washington Park, meeting up with my reporter friends or their wives for our “book club,” meeting people for dinner.

I could come home and have some interesting conversation at the end of the day. I was starting to settle in. This was nice. Then he asked me if he could have my phone number.

“Oh, no!” I thought. “This could ruin everything.”
Things were going so well. Did we really have to destroy our relationship by talking on the phone? What if he turned out to be a complete idiot in real life? I wasn’t excited about this new phase, but I knew I was only prolonging the inevitable. At some point, we would need to talk. I mean, really.
Reluctantly, I gave him my number. He told me he would call me on Saturday. I tried to stay away from my apartment as much as possible. I wanted to make sure I missed his call.
When I was home, I would try to talk on the phone so he couldn’t get through. I definitely didn’t want him to get the idea that he could just call me any old time, and I was going to be there to pick up the phone.
He left a message.
He didn’t sound too bad.
I called him back at a time I knew he would be at work just so I could listen to his answering machine.
OK. He sounded normal enough.
I called it a few more times, just to be sure.
When he finally called back, I couldn’t handle the suspense any longer. Caller ID hadn’t even been invented yet at that point, but I could tell who was calling. My stomach was full of butterflies when I picked up the phone.


To be continued…


4 responses to “The beginning of us, part 4”

  1. Eliza Do Little Avatar

    Well.. I'll say this for ya… You know how to drag it out!! And keep us interested!!! Loving it!

  2. Sues Avatar

    I am LOVING your story so far! πŸ˜€ JB & I also had a long email stint – we were already together, but we had only been dating 6 months when I went to live in Germany for a year and he started grad school in Wisconsin. (Our undergrad is in North Carolina.) We figured if we could get through that year apart & still want no one else, we could make it through anything. πŸ™‚ It was actually two years of email, b/c when I came back, I still had my senior year in NC while he was in WI; but at least we were on the same continent. πŸ˜› For his wedding present 3 years later, I printed out EVERY.SINGLE.EMAIL we'd exchanged when I was in Germany (I had saved them all on – GET THIS! – a floppy disk! :-D) and had them bound into a book.PS – you & I were so alike in high school, except I was dancing & singing instead of tennis & band. πŸ˜‰

  3. everydayMOM Avatar

    Hey Beth, thanks for reading! Well… I figured if I'm going to write this story, I should include all the details! And if I wrote it all at once, you would NEVER read it all! πŸ™‚

  4. everydayMOM Avatar

    Thanks, Sues! I saved all of our e-mails, too. They are somewhere in this house on a FLOPPY disk! Now, how will I ever retrieve them?!? πŸ™‚

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I’m Emily

Storyteller. Photographer. Creative.

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