How We Met

The Story of Wil and Marline.

Updated 2016.06.06

Here, I will attempt to detail the way I met Marline, the love of my life. I will try to provide only my end of it, with a little personal history for those of you who haven’t known me before this.

I had already been engaged once before (1995), and it ended crappily. That had been my longest romantic relationship to date, a total of about 13 months. After college in Missouri, I moved to Arkansas. I won’t lie; my time in Arkansas (1995-2000) was a fun time, full of parties, lively friends, experimentation, and mind-expanding. But it was also a time of extreme loneliness, though I dated more people than I can count. None of them seemed to fit into my soul. Some of them would fit partway into my life, but didn’t mesh with other parts. Some didn’t fit at all, but I would find a way to cram them in there. It hurt more than helped.

I didn’t realize it then, but I was only partway through a major paradigm-shift in my belief system and worldview, and I now (2016) believe it was this that was the blockade to most of those relationships. I discuss that journey elsewhere.

I began to realize that I would survive my 20s after all, so I changed my lifestyle and began avoiding the types of people who would draw me back in. I wrote more than 200 poems in a year’s time, trying to sort out my brain and my soul.

And then I moved. I knew that I needed to go somewhere else. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be, but I knew that I wouldn’t find it there. So I came to Seminole, Oklahoma.

Close to family again, I was still lonely on the romantic side of life. In fact, that only increased in Seminole, because of my oft-lamented “math problem”. The math problem was simple: There are only 25,000 people in Seminole County. Half of them are men. Half of the women were either far too old or illegally young. (That leaves about 6,000, by the way). Of those women that were eligible age-wise, most of them were married. Most of the unmarried ones were either divorced, had several children, or both. Many others were party-goers, which I wished to avoid. (Now, we’re down to just a few hundred, by the way). Of those, the rest were either too religious, looking for the wrong things in life, or already attached to someone else. Or just basically unattractive (or not attracted to me) in some way. So ended up with this total: ZERO.

After a couple of internet flings, which were fun but unfulfilling, I came to the conclusion that I would remain alone for the rest of my life. So I came to know myself and be comfortable with myself. This turned out to be the key.

By that time, I was working for a newspaper and learning photography. I spent my free time either with my family or on the internet — reading news, blogging, posting my pictures, and developing my website.

During the summer of 2005, I had a minor crush on a young woman I met in Seminole. Mainly, it served to remind me that I still wanted to find the woman that Destiny had chosen for me — at the time, I still held a faint belief in something like Destiny or Fate. I realized it was still possible that my soul-mate was out there. So I wrote a blog entry in frustration, explaining how I just couldn’t seem to say or do the right things to fit in with the fairer gender. I posted a picture of myself in the blog post.

But the combination of the post and the picture elicited two responses. One was from an old friend, saying, “Mmm... Love this pic.” The other was from a complete stranger, indicating that she felt the same way sometimes, and it ended with this line: “Oh and by the way if the above pic is of you, you’re really hot, so take comfort in your hotness for a moment and trust that in time you’ll find the right woman for you.”

Well. No email address or contact information was left with the comment, so I responded to it somewhat in my next entry, saying that I would “think on these things”. That was on Wednesday, July 27, 2005, at 00:10. By 13:00 that same day, I received an email from a young woman named Marline, saying she was the anonymous poster on my blog. Near the end of a short but grammatically correct message, she said: “But from one Virgo to another, rest assured that when the time is right and when you are ready you’ll find the one.” And she added a tiny picture into the email, from which I only learned two things: (a) she was cute, and (b) she was black.
Back Story: Marline had been following a stand-up comic named Christian Finnegan, whose promoter was my cousin. Marline had been reading Finnegan’s blog and then skipped over to my cousin’s blog. My cousin had linked to some firework pictures on *my* blog, which led Marline to the post mentioned above. I’ll never be more glad that I took fireworks pictures, or that Kambri was my cousin.
But what I learned most from the email was that she was intelligent, which immediately warmed my heart. So glad was I to receive an intelligent, caring reply from this cute girl, that I wrote a carefully-worded response back to her later that afternoon, with the daring subject line: “Well, hello there, beautiful!”

I laughingly explained to her my “math problem”, and commented on the fact that our birthdays were but one day apart (plus nine years). I also complimented her writing, which was impressive to me in this day of badly spelled emails, internet shorthand, and general lack of knowledge about the English language. Nothing too overt.

Unknown to me, she did a little checking up on me (as every girl should when meeting a strange man on the internet), and found my About Wil page on my website. Fortunately, I’d included enough about myself there that she felt comfortable in opening up a little more, and responded (still on July 27), with more about herself. Again, the email was well-worded, spelled correctly, and organized in an intelligent fashion. And she included another picture, this one with more pixels.

Still on the same night, I responded back, saying I was impressed. I promised to respond as soon as I had more time. About 17 minutes later, I sent her one of the longest emails I’d written in my life (nearly 2,000 words!) That was getting close to midnight. Being just a little tired, for some reason I grew bold and told her she was “gorgeous”. She was, of course, but I usually wouldn’t say that so early in getting to know someone. I figured, “What the heck. She can always just not respond. She’s too far away to slap me for being so forward.” But it turned out to be just the right thing to say.

Over the next few days, we emailed each other half a dozen times, each message getting longer and more detailed. We were polite and courteous to each other, yet suddenly began to feel like old friends as so much information was passed between us. Everything seemed to click. By Friday (July 29), she pushed the brand new relationship to another level with these words: “I was thinking I could call you sometime and we could talk.”

Wow. I wasnrs t thinking about the cost of a long-distance call so much as I worried about where that would take us. Would we like each other’s voices? Would I sound too country for a New York City girl? She’d already told me that her accent was nearly non-existent with something of a “valley girl” hint, but I doubted it, to be honest. What could we say to each other that hadn’t already been said in our emails that seemed to resemble small encyclopedias? I grew nervous.

But she gave me her phone number. That showed a lot of trust, a lot of vulnerability. I couldn’t leave her hanging after such a magnanimous gesture. She’d even offered to call me, since she had free long-distance. So I gave her my number too.

Then came Saturday, when I was at work all day, and she was out at a friend’s wedding for most of the day. A day that we didn’t communicate by email, after so many since Wednesday. It was actually kind of weird.

But on Sunday, July 31, there was a message from her on my answering machine when I woke up. It was Marline. What to do? I felt like a 14-year-old boy, about to ask a popular girl to the homecoming dance. Nervous, shaky, unsure of myself. Do I call her? Do I send an email and say I’m not ready for that yet? What? I laugh at myself now, thinking of that feeling.

I drank a Dr. Pepper to help me wake up fully, and calmed my nerves.

And then I called. She answered quickly, saying she was at the laundromat, and would call me back in 10 minutes. She did. And since then, we’ve never gone a single day without talking to each other.

We talked for six straight hours on that first day, something that I’d never before done in my life with anyone. It was the longest phone conversation I could imagine, but it was never boring, always pleasant, and my ear ached like a son of a gun afterward. She loved my accent which is just barely southern, and I couldn’t get over the fact that she really did sound like a valley girl. She had interesting things to say, and she was interested in the things that I said.

Though our worlds were very different, we were both human beings and thus had something in common. And it turned out that we had much more in common than just our birthdays and our humanness.

At some point in the conversation, I’d mentioned that I would soon be taking a week off work. By the end of the conversation, she was asking pointed questions about how I’d be spending time on my vacation. I mentioned that my friend Mark was coming from Arkansas. She asked how many days he would be staying. At that point, I realized what she was doing, but I didn’t make it easy for her. I said I wasn’t sure how many days he would be here, but that he would probably only stay for the first half of my vacation. I basically forced her to say out loud that she was already thinking of flying down to visit me. Because I didn’t want to seem like the perverted old guy who asks the young college girl to come visit him. She said it. She said she wanted to come see me.

Within a day or so, I’d talked to Mark and decided that he would only stay here until Aug. 17, and Marline had booked tickets to fly down on the 18th.

Marline and I continued to talk on the phone every day, throughout the next two weeks of work, and even while Mark was here, though some of those conversations were short. Each night while Mark was visiting me, after he’d gone to sleep, I stayed up late and wrote emails to Marline. I emailed more pictures to her, and I sent her a video of Mark and I on my grandmother’s land, shooting guns and walking through the canyons.

Mark, who’d seen me go through heartbreaks in other relationships, urged me to be cautious and take my time. Good friends like that are hard to find. But girls like Marline are even harder to find, and fortunately, she’d found me.

From the first moment I saw her, coming down the escalator in Will Rogers World Airport, I knew things would be all right. Those first few moments, I’ll admit, I was still nervous, as we collected her baggage and made our way outside into the August Oklahoma sun, and I still had to concentrate on city driving for the next little bit as I wanted us both to arrive in Seminole safely.

But I had nothing to be nervous about. We fit together like (insert really good simile here). It worked. The timing was right. We were made for each other. There were no instances, for me, during those next few days, when I doubted that she was the girl for me, though I hesitated to say that. Afterall, I’d had my heart broken before and done my share of heart-breaking. It didn’t take long, however, for those old scars to weaken and fall away from my heart as this enthusiastic, brilliant, beautiful, energetic woman clung to me, entering my life fully.

That hole in my soul that I mentioned earlier? I quickly came to believe that Marline had been specifically designed to exactly fit into that space. Her personality is not like mine; that much is certain. But it’s the exact personality that I needed. Her previous life experience is not like mine either, something that I also needed. Her perspective on things is different too, which is wonderful and eye-opening. Not only is she kind enough to listen to my varying and sometimes rambling opinions, but she’s strong enough and smart enough to successfully counter me when I’m incorrect or mistaken, or when we simply disagree. I could easily go on for another ten thousand words about how well we fit together, but at some point my readers will be bored to tears, or sickened by the gushy emotions presented. So I’ll stop here. You get the point.

Anyway, she came back to Oklahoma two weeks later, and then again in October. For two weeks in December, she was here again, the most wonderful Christmas season I can remember. In January, she visited me again, for another wonderful weekend. By March 2006, it was my turn to fly, and I visited The Bronx and the rest of New York City with Marline as my guide. I had been there twice before, but never saw the city like I did this time.

Then came our longest stretch apart. Two and a half months passed before she flew into Oklahoma on May 31. Hopefully, we’ll never be apart that long again.

That’s “The Story of Us”. I hope you like it. Have a wonderful day, and may all your dreams come true, just like mine.

The above was originally a blog entry from 2006.05.01. It has been edited slightly for readability and accuracy. We were married on 2006.06.06, in Key West, Fla., and made our home in Seminole until 2009. Then we moved to Killeen, Texas, in Aug. 2009, where we remain.)

To keep up with our current lives, please visit my blog — My Life.

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