Does anyone remember ICQ? Way back in ’96 it was the poor man’s instant messenger. It’s still around but they took away it’s best feature. You could click to get linked to a random person anywhere in the world. It would show you some info about each other and you would decide if you wanted to talk. If you know me, you know that I absolutely love randomness.
It was fun but being a person who was online late at night with the dial up modem, I mostly found people on the other side of the world. Back then the internet was very popular in Indonesia and the Philippines. Scammers weren’t much of a problem at the time. It’s not as fun as it sounds but it beat whatever was on television.
Then one night it happened. I clicked the randomizer and up popped “Springfield.” It was a medium sized town about two hours away from me. It was the first place I met someone online I didn’t need a globe to find. I hit “chat” and waited to see what happened. I got a message back! It was from a woman who also didn’t sleep. I was new to the internet and naive. It never crossed my mind we would meet in real life and besides, she was married.
She told me she was “separated.” Young me thought separated was a legal term meaning the divorce wasn’t final. My parents separated because they were Catholic and divorce was out of the question. Even though they never saw each other alive again, my mom was still married to my dad 50 years later. I didn’t know separated meant you hated each other but still lived together.
“A” and I talked for a few weeks and shared most of our life stories. Digital cameras were expensive and rare at the time. We figured out how to share pictures using our scanners. We both had to pull pictures off the wall and out of the frame to send them.
It turns out her sister was the former owner of a small hotel in the beach town where I grew up. What else? The hotel was directly across from the house I lived in when I was in 2nd grade. It must have been fate, right? We made plans to meet at the hotel and traded phone numbers. After that night I was no longer a phone sex “virgin.” So many new and exciting things were happening.
We met later that week at the hotel. I didn’t have a vehicle of my own but I lived next to my work and my boss was fairly lenient with me since I was such a good worker. I walked over and looked for a truck with keys in it. I was half in luck. The only truck available was not inspected but it ran fine without a muffler. I hopped in, turned the key and roared off towards the beach.
I got to the hotel and met them. Her sister excused herself to take a “walk to the store.” I spent the night there and she didn’t understand why I had to leave so early in the morning. I explained I had my bosses truck and had to have it back at the shop by 5am. I turned the key and roared back down the highway.
That was my first internet romance and I’ve been chasing the high ever since. (Minus the married woman part.)