We met online -- on a dating site; AmericanSingles.com, to be precise. He was from West Virginia; I'm from New Jersey. He was looking for Happily Ever After. I was looking for something to do Saturday nights. We exchanged lengthy e-mails, which evolved into six-hour phone conversations and a plan to meet.
He suggested coming to my house. I suggested he was crazy. "If you're on my turf where will I run if you turn out to be an axe murderer?"
We decided on a hotel in Baltimore, halfway between each of our homes -- separate rooms, of course. I learned he prefers petite. I'm not. He learned I favor linebackers. He's not. But, after three days and nights of divulging, dissecting, evaluating, analyzing, and non-stop laughing, something happened. He decided his search was over and I discovered he filled gaps I'd never known were empty.
He asked if he could come home with me. I flatly refused, explaining I was not that kind of girl, and what would my neighbors think, and what would my children think, and my parents, oh my God, what would they think? Then I remembered I didn't know my neighbors, my children hadn't always been prime examples of propriety, and both my parents were dead.
So, I jumped into my car and he jumped into his, and he followed me for four-and-a-half hours, to my home, where he remained for 10 weeks. And during that time we discussed growing feelings, future plans and the utter absurdity of the rapid pace that things were progressing.
Friends attempted to dissuade us from moving so fast. We acknowledged their concerns, checked our birth certificates and determined that at our late age, waiting was not an option.
We drove to his home in West Virginia. He hammered and sawed for five weeks toward a goal of renovating to sell, or rent, and I admired the breathtaking scenery, played Solitaire, and contemplated a hangnail.
It didn't take long to discover that his small town offered little more than its beauty, which ended the moment I came down from the mountain. Virtually all entertainment took place at home because nothing happens downtown -- downtown being a euphemism for three blocks of fast food places and a string of boarded-up store fronts. Those not up to home entertaining are forced to find excitement at Pizza Hut, Mc Donald's, a movie house whose claim to fame is that it's the oldest in the country and has never been renovated, and a Chinese restaurant whose main source of protein is that day's road kill.
All other social interaction take place within the confines of Wal-Mart, which is the only place to shop for clothing, household goods and food. The only place. It soon became evident that in this town culture would never be found any place other than at the bottom of a Petrie dish, and if I wanted it, I had to travel 50 miles to Charleston.
I'm someone who does not enjoy dressing up, so the town's casual dress code suited me. It consisted of jeans and sweat shirts during the week and jeans and sweat shirts again, on Sundays. The only discernable difference between the two outfits was the stain count.
I attended a high school graduation and learned that the No Prayers in School law was not enforced. The Lord's Prayer was recited, and most speeches made reference to God, which was reminiscent of the way things were in my youth.
At the end of five weeks we rented a U-Haul truck to cart all his belongings back to my house, and called upon MapQuest.com for directions. It must have assumed we'd be driving an army tank, or on horseback, because the route took us over back roads we are convinced no commercial vehicle has ever navigated. Consequently, an eight-hour drive took twelve.
We're back in Jersey now, where if you listen closely you can hear my walls and floors wincing from the strain of trying to embrace the belongings of two households. Even before he entered my life every surface in my home was overflowing with paintings, pottery and doodads. I once had a friend facetiously point out that she spotted one square inch of uncovered space on my wall that surely needed to be covered with .......................something.
So, while we shovel our way through each room, mixing Country French with Art Deco, and making major decisions regarding whose china we'll keep and which will go to our children, we never lose sight of what's really important; that we are profoundly blessed to have found each other so late in life.
We were married two years later.
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