So I'm engaged now.
Yeah, Me-a-year-ago is just as surprised as you are. On April Fools Day 2016, one year ago today, I had just figured out I had better buy myself some flowers instead of waiting around for Prince Charming to prance in with a bouquet. I wasn't exactly expecting Prince Charming to show up anytime soon, if at all.
All I can say is, God clearly has a sense of humor.
The short version is, I thought I was just having lunch with an entertaining out-of-town business traveler and it turned into... History. Most of this history played out over a distance of some 1,300 miles (give or take a hundred or so), over Facebook, Skype, email and vacation days. Considering I always thought I'd be terrible at a long-distance relationship, that could be the most surprising aspect of this whole surprising epic.
So it was easy to go on living my independent, solo life. Most of my acquaintances didn't even know Prince Charming existed until several months after I met him. (Of course, there was no concealment from my good friends.) Long distance meant none of the usual dating nonsense, no weekly restaurant visits, no Netflix-and-chill. Life on the surface doesn't change much when you are falling for someone you only see once every few weeks.
I'll resist the cliché comparisons to an iceberg or an ocean.
What did change was how I spent late evenings. Texting, then Skyping, at the end of a workday. A tender wish good night. All of the sentimental stuff you see on the silver screen doesn't compare to the uniquely silly conversations you have when there's nothing specific to talk about, no particular reason to talk, yet you talk anyway.
Then again, our independent lives have meant plenty of stories to tell. Having not had the same weather makes even such a quotidian subject interesting. (And really, weather doesn't get enough credit as a topic of interest. It shapes even the culture in which you're immersed. But that's a topic for another day.)
And were it not for our skill, even comfort, with living on our own, perhaps this romance would have faltered at the outset. Perhaps it would have petered out as either of us decided the result wasn't worth the monumental effort. Perhaps it would have breathed its last as two people found out the miscommunication that can happen when you're not often physically present. Perhaps it would have given up the ghost as less perfect but more convenient dates presented themselves.
But a life on my own meant I knew I would survive, even thrive, sans boyfriend. Less perfect beaus would have failed to convince me I would be happier facing the unknowns of a shared life than the knowns of living solo.
The transition to a shared life isn't over, won't be for many months. And I'll probably never be quite rid of the independent spirit that has shaped my life so far.
I hope not, anyway. I'm certain it's a strength, something by which a romance turns into a 50th anniversary dinner.