A little background. In November 2000, I left my daughter’s father when she was two months old because of abuse.
By 2005 I was becoming lonely and not meeting any interesting men in my daily life. I began considering online dating and decided eHarmony’s matching system to be the safest way to meet a compatible man. I joined eHarmony in July 2005. There were many matches, but few connections, and I gave up my subscription in 2006. A few weeks after quitting I received an email from eHarmony saying I’d received a message from one of the men I’d communicated with. Out of curiosity I joined for another year in September. That year I met a couple more likely prospects but made no real connection. The subscription was soon ending and I was quitting for good – giving up.
About two weeks before the end of my second year on eHarmony a match showed up. A local guy whose profile sounded good, and he had a great smile and the nicest eyes I’d seen in a long while. He also had a son close in age to my daughter. (Up til now I believe I’d been dismissed by other matches because of the young age of my daughter, and the fact that my mother lives with us.)
We moved quickly through the eHarmony guided steps and in open communication Brian sent me his phone numbers. Interested as I was, I became quite nervous. He sounded too good to be true. I knew his work hours so I called his home number when he was working -just so he couldn’t say I hadn’t called. I didn’t answer when Brian called me back. Instead I called his home again when he was working. After several days of playing phone tag I finally picked up the phone when he called. My daughter and I were on our way to catch toads to relocate them from our former apartment to our new home. (Lots of skinny toads at the apartments and none at the home with a great habitat.) I decided I was going to tell it like it was and see if he could handle me and my odd little ways. In my mind if Brian called me back then he was worth a chance. He called the next day.
We began phoning each other regularly and Brian even stood in one spot for two hours in a hotel room in California on a business trip because that was the only spot he had a cell phone connection!
We agreed to meet in person at the Neptune Festival Parade the last Saturday in September. Pretty safe – broad daylight, lots of people, very little pressure since we also took the kids. I arrived at the designated street corner early so I could secure a good spot on the parade route. I spotted him first and let him walk past while I checked him out. I liked what I saw and after watching him for a minute I stood to call to him. Not sure what was the right way to say, “Hello” I extended my hand. Brian pulled me into a hug instead. That was nice, albeit unexpected. All went well, and we parted ways agreeing to call again. We quickly established a pattern of nightly phone calls which typically lasted over an hour.
I decided to be perfectly honest with Brian about my past abusive relationships and my issues with trust. He was patient and understanding, listening and not judging. He even understood that I had no desire to displace my mother (who has schizophrenia and early Alzheimer’s) from my home. I learned about Brian as well. The more we talked, the better he sounded. He was really becoming better and better – not what I expected, and he didn’t waver or go away. He seemed really interesting and interested. And as we spent more time together he was so kind to my mother and daughter. I knew I was falling in love and not just falling in like.
He invited me to his company’s Christmas party. That was my first opportunity to really dress up in years. I wanted to knock his socks off so I went all out – I even had my hair professionally styled. I teased him endlessly about getting new shoes, getting my hair done, and that the dress was red and sleeveless – that’s all I would say. I was so nervous, and the last thing I expected was to see him blush when he saw me in my dress! I was so happy he was pleased.
With tremendous effort I summoned the courage to tell Brian I loved him. It was around the new year, I think. Our nightly phone calls continued and we shared more and more time together. The kids got along really well so that was a tremendous relief, too.
Brian proposed in early May. We’d gone to dinner and driven around a bit afterward. We walked the babysitter home then Brian was acting odd on the way back to my house. As we neared the front door he stopped and said, “This isn’t the way I was going to do this – will you marry me?” He offered me a stunning ring and said he was going to propose on the street corner where we met at the parade. We’d driven that way earlier, but it was chilly and I didn’t have a wrap or sweater so he drove on. He didn’t hear me say that I’d walk for a bit even though it was chilly.
Anyway, I told Brian that I wanted to go right back to that corner so he could propose there, but we really couldn’t leave again. I told him I would marry him on that corner and I think he thought I was nuts. But I was serious – that corner holds a very special place in my heart and I told him so. Instead I told him he had to propose to me again and get it right this time!
We set our wedding date to be October 18, 2008 and planned a beach wedding. I kept saying that street corner would be perfect, but that setting never was seriously considered.
September rolled around and we made a date to attend the Neptune Festival Parade again and watch from the same corner. I thought that he might propose there the way I wanted him to, bent knee and all. He took back my engagement ring so he could do it right. As the weekend approached Brian told me he had a brief meeting that Saturday morning and would have to meet my daughter and me there. It was a rainy morning and cooler than expected when my daughter and I claimed the street corner. Brian called to say he was on his way. All the diehard parade fans ducked under window awnings to wait out the rain and we were rewarded as it stopped and the parade was just slightly delayed. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds as the parade commenced. My daughter and I watched bands march and floats drift by as I thought Brian was taking a long time to show. Then there was a sudden ruckus and people started shouting my name. I looked around trying to figure what was happening and people were pointing into the street. There stood Brian in the middle of the parade route holding a large sign that said, “Mary will you marry me?” He beckoned me into the street where he dropped to one knee and proposed again. I was speechless (not at all typical), surprised, shocked, you name it. Never did I suspect what he was up to! People where applauding and shouting and congratulating and even taking pictures. Two ladies came and offered us their pictures of the proposal. Brian knew I really wanted a storybook proposal and made it so romantic by making himself a parade participant, carrying that sign down the route to clueless me!
When people ask me how Brian and I met I don’t hesitate to tell them ‘eHarmony!’ Many times I hear and see surprised responses. I continue to encourage others to try it for themselves- especially if they don’t want to play a lot of games and sort through the singles themselves. As a 40-something single parent and full-time professional there’s precious little time for games and the tremendous energy it takes to find someone compatible. I had nearly given up hope.
As Brian and I got to know each other it was interesting to learn that he lived just ten minutes down the road from me and that we both drove the same intersection regularly. No telling how many times we may have passed each other. We would never have met without eHarmony, though, as that intersection was the only random crossing of paths for us.