Let me start off by saying that Big Daddy was NOT a part of the prison penpal program. Those who know us know our story and know why I loved Big Daddy with all my heart, despite us never having met. All of those conversations and interactions were long distance. All I had was the warmth of his voice and his words and a few pictures (one that included a full moon).
Big Daddy and I met on the Internet.
In a hockey chat room.
You know, back when we first met and married, it seemed strange to say that. People would appear mildly shocked. But now, Internet matchmaking features prominently on mainstream t.v. and suddenly the whole premise of an Internet romance isn’t so strange anymore.
As the summer passed, Big Daddy was getting more pushy about us meeting. He was coming to Michigan for a meet up with some other folks from the chat room, couldn’t we meet up then?
I was afraid.
You see, I thought Big Daddy was so wonderful and I felt so ordinary. He was funny and smart. He was working at a great company (I mean, it was a crappy job but whatever. I was working part time at a grocery store) and I was still in college, really foundering as I tried to figure out something that I wanted to do that would pay the bills.
All of my insecurities fell down on top of me when Big Daddy would start asking to meet. I felt fat. I felt ugly. I felt immature. I felt stupid. I felt very unworthy of the things that Big Daddy was. And all of that was the one thing that I couldn’t find the courage to talk to Big Daddy about. I know now that if I had told Big Daddy about what I was feeling, he would have eased my concerns just like he always does and always did. But, I couldn’t put those thoughts into words, so I put Big Daddy off.
Big Daddy confided to mutual friends that he thought the problem was him. That I was putting him off because I didn’t know how to let him down.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I was afraid that the me Big Daddy knew, from ICQ and the phone wouldn’t be the me he found. And I had this inkling that Big Daddy and I could be so great together, I was afraid of the failure that could come. What if we met and one of us found the other intolerable? Or revolting? Of course, I figured it would be him finding me intolerable or revolting and I didn’t think I was able to take that rejection. Even though my stalling left Big Daddy feeling rejected.
When Big Daddy came into town for the chat room meet up, I was at home just a little ways away. He respected my need for space and shyness and despite wanting to, he didn’t come to see me. Despite threatening me, our friends didn’t drag me to him. I spent that day knowing that all I had to do was get in the car and I could be in Big Daddy’s arm, but fear kept me grounded at home.
That night, I called Big Daddy after the meet up. He was sleeping at the airport. In a phone booth. I love that about him. We talked while he dozed and I was regretful that I had let the opportunity pass. I realized that I’d never know how great we could be if I didn’t move further. I had to push past the fear.
One night in August, I was home alone again. My parents were camping with my siblings and my neighbor was underage and had a WILD party. He’d managed to cut his head open in the midst of a drink induced temper tantrum. I was trying to decide the best way to help him and called Big Daddy for advice.
“I wish you were here”, I said to Big Daddy.
“Be careful what you say,” he said. “Because I’ll get in the car if you say the word.”
But it was very late and I was very practical.
“I’ll be fine”, I said. “I just feel better talking to you.”
In the dark in the kitchen, talking on the beige phone on the wall with the cord stretched out from a family of phone pacers, I was connected to Big Daddy as I watched the goings on at my neighbors house. I got ready to get off the phone because it was so late. And that’s when it happened. There in the dark. In the kitchen. On the beige phone.
“I love you,” he said. My knees wobbled and turned to jelly. I slid quietly down the side of the fridge to the floor.
“I love you, too,” I said. And I did. And this playing coy stuff was going to have to stop. Because rejection or not, I wasn’t sure I could live without Big Daddy for one more minute.