The Beginning of US

Painting of Nagesh & Jackie

I wish that I could share some ultra-romantic, over-the-top story about how we met, swept each other off our feet, and fell in love at first sight! Unfortunately, this is not a Bollywood film or sappy rom-com, it’s real life. No hair blowing in the wind or romantic song and dance here - we met in the most cliche manner imaginable - on the Internet!

We had both tried the online dating scene before and, frankly, had very low expectations, but the frigid, dreary winter months made us hopeful (or maybe crazy), so we joined a popular online dating site. Cue the overly-edited, strategically angled profile pictures; creepers; dirty messages; and general filth that is online dating (maybe dating in general?).

A few weeks in, I was getting disheartened. I planned to delete my account and resolve to being a Crazy Cat Lady for the rest of my life when I got a message that got my attention! It was an actual conversation-starting, grammatically correct, kind message. It asked questions about me and didn’t comment on physical appearance. Needless to say, this was a breath of fresh air, so I decided to respond. It only took a few messages back and forth before I realized that this was someone I enjoyed talking to, someone who seemed genuinely interested in conversation, and with whom the conversation flowed so naturally.

I was so excited, I wanted to move quickly - talk more, meet in person, etc., but he was careful not to be pushy and respected my boundaries - not asking for my number too quickly, not asking to meet right away. I was actually a little worried that he wasn’t as interested as I was since he wasn’t suggested moving as fast as I wanted to. Looking back, I know it was out of respect, kindness, and fear of looking like a creeper.

Within a few days, we started to text and eventually Facetimed (he was concerned I wouldn’t be able to understand his accent, so he insisted we video chat before meeting in person). Turns out, I talk fast and am way more difficult to understand than he is, even with his Indian accent. It was inconceivable to me that I would feel such a strong connection to someone who was so different (in almost every way imaginable) and who I had only just met and talked to online. But, I did. Everything about our interactions felt different than anything I had experienced before - in the most wonderful way!

The following week, we decided to go on a date! I was so nervous and hopeful that the connection I felt would be there in person too. We met in a CVS parking lot and rode to our city’s Union Station. He was an absolute delight and perfect gentleman - bringing flowers, having my favorite music on in the car - so sweet and thoughtful. We walked around Union Station looking at the lights that were still up from Christmas and talking about everything! I was still so nervous and blown away by how surreal the date felt that I could hardly look at him and was trying desperately to hide my face with my hair (he told me later that this was not so sneaky - he totally noticed and thought I wasn’t that into him!!).

He wanted to go out for dinner, but I was completing Whole30 and for those of you familiar with this very strict 30 day cleanse/eating plan, you know I could eat virtually nothing, especially from a restaurant. I told him I would go with him and drink water, but he thought that was ridiculous. So we drove around, continued to talk, and ended the night with a sweet hug. I think we both knew from that evening that we had found something special.

He told me that night, right off the bat on the first date, that his culture and familial expectations would make a relationship anything but easy. But we both felt that what we had experienced so far was special enough to at least see where it could go and face any challenges, skepticism, and pushback head on!