Before Tinder and Bumble made a simple finger-swipe the only prerequisite for a love (or lust) connection, there was a lonely girl and the click of her mouse.
A string of go-nowhere hookups (coupled with the dearly-deported baby-daddy no longer with me) pushed me to pursue online dating with bemused anticipation: mentally mocking the likelihood of a computer-generated true love, while desperate for it to happen.
I used a site geared toward Latinos (and their many admirers, apparently) to ensure my mate shared my affinity for cumbias and futbol. Also green chile.
When Juanito17 hit me up a mere week into my www.latinamericancupid.com foray, I felt I’d hit the loteria: cute, steadily employed, and able to carry on hours-long convos without once mentioning panocha or calling me mija (Seriously. Stop that, Latin dudes. You’re not my papi.)
He lived in Philadelphia, I in Albuquerque. What is a couple separated by thousands of miles to do? First, he put a ring on it. Because he liked it. In a hectic rush of phone calls, appointments, reservations, and trips to Hobby Lobby, we planned a wedding and reception for 100 of my nearest and dearest (his familia resides in Oaxaca, Mexico) less than five months after our first instant message.
Then, I quit my well-paying job in higher education, pulled my kiddos out of their local schools, said adios to my mama and everything I’d known for 30 years, and moved across the country. I did not have a job. I did not know a soul, other than my new husband (and really, did I even know him yet?) I did not have a clue.
But I did have faith. Faith that I would figure it out. Faith that my courage and intelligence would see me through. Faith that I had made the right decision, and faith that I was on the path my life was meant to take. Rather than live guided by hesitation and doubt, I’d cast caution aside to pursue my passion.
And how has that worked out for me? No fairytales. There have been struggles, frustrations, and a very real culture shock adjusting from New Mexico to Pennsylvania.
But five years later, I have a higher-paying job with an upward career path. I’ve made dear friends and my children are content. I’ve been blessed to travel and vacation and experience a world beyond the Southwestern bubble in which I’d been ensconced.
And of course, I still have my man. The same hope and faith that propelled me to try online dating, to quickly marry my first match, to ignore the naysayers, has also sustained my marriage. I have no regrets.
I do still miss me some New Mexico green chile though.