Five years ago, I was messaged on eHarmony. The latest date I’d gone on the week before ended with the lady messaging me saying we weren’t compatible. I was seriously thinking about putting a halt on my searching, but I decided I’d give it at least one more try. It wasn’t like I couldn’t go be a hermit if this one went down in flames as well.

Except that didn’t happen. We exchanged messages for more than a month. I think those were important. We really got to know each other before we actually met.

Then our first date. I had fun, but was nervous as hell. Honestly, I couldn’t tell if she thought it went well or not until she texted me the next morning. Then both of us were getting ready for Irma, which was scheduled to hit a few days later. During said preps, I discovered I’d left my debit card at the restaurant. I guess I was having a good time. The night of the hurricane, we were texting back and forth. The. Entire. Night.

More dates, which was difficult because we lived fifty miles away. Which felt longer because the main highway linking us liked to clog up at the most inopportune time. Then trading weekends. Neither of us can agree when we decided that our relationship was heading to marriage. All I know was that by May or June of 2018, I was hunting up wedding rings. She was sending me enough links to ones she liked that my FB feed had ads for rings for six months.

Five years ago, that message has upended my life. In so many good ways. I’d never thought I’d leave northern Hillsborough County. Now, that part of the state I’d spent almost all of my life in seems like a distant place. I’ve felt more at home in Parrish than I remember feeling since I was a child.

It’s been an amazing five years, and I can’t wait for many, many more.