Thursday, May 31, 2012

How We Met

Tom and I met in the most conventional way two people can meet in today's technological world...on-line. We were both on a popular dating site hoping to find love. It was Tom's first time, but my third. I had first tried the on-line dating thing ten years ago, in Seattle. The way I figured, it was just another way to meet people. You had a lot more to choose from, and I got to screen the possible candidates quite a bit more to boot.
Tom's picture caught my eye. I was immediately attracted to him. He looked like he had that magical combination of toughness mixed in with a good heart. Turns out I was right. However, it was by pure luck that we got together. If I had stuck to my unwritten rules regarding on-line dating, we would never have met. Tom's picture was blurry, and it was only from the neck up. I had hoped to see more pictures, but he had only posted that one. I had decided long ago that if someone did not post more than one pic, I would not show interest. Also, Tom would have never seen me because I did not fall with in his 50 mile limit. I was, it turns out, 52 miles away.


But, something about him kept me engaged and I decided to take a look at his profile. When I got in to his bio, I realized that he had hit my next "no-no" when it came to on-line dating. Tom had written about himself by explaining how he was like an animal, a gazelle of all things. His office-mates and he had taken an on-line survey that asked 8 questions and then indicated what type of animal you were most like, and why. Tom's full bio consisted of the description (word-for-word) out of this on-line test. It had "zero" personal information in it.

Just as I was about to hit "next" so I could look at someone else's bio, I decided to give him was last chance. I looked at what he had put under his interests. This is what helped me to decide to give him a more serious look. In his own words, he described a bit more about what he was interested in, which included his two favorite places as Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. Well, this seemed like enough possible in common material that I "winked" at him. The previous summer I had been to the Rocky Mountain National Park, and on my profile I had placed several of the pics I had taken there. And, besides spending 8 years in Seattle, "The Emerald City", I had family out in that neck of the woods and loved to go visit them regularly.


After Tom winked back, we eventually talked on the phone. I had so much fun talking to him that I suggested we not meet in person. "Why not," he asked, incredulous. "Because," I said. "What if we meet and we don't hit it off. Then we'll have to say goodbye to these conversations and I just don't want to do that yet." He thought about this for a few seconds and then suggested, "But, what if we meet and we do hit it off. We would miss out on that possibility if we don't take the chance. Don't you think it's worth it?" I had to admit that he had a point. So, on March 5th, 2011, we had our first date.

It was a lunch date that was supposed to last two hours at the most. Eight hours later, after lunch, a walk around Baker University campus, driving to Lawrence to go to a bookstore, then coffee at a coffee shop, and ending with dinner at a Vietnamese Restaurant...we finally gave each other two hugs and said goodnight. And, the rest, as they say, is history...

A year later, we are married and have flown to Kodiak, Alaska, awaiting our new home and new life to begin. Tom was offered a job in the Department of Homeland Security, for the Coast Guard after he had found out that his job for the Department of Defense was being cut. The whole program he worked in for the Army, in fact, was being cut. The budget cuts to the military had come in to effect in 2011-2012, and any programs deamed "duplicates" of other programs were being cut. Tom's job at that time was to get mid-level officers ready for a promotion by assisting them with learning how to get in to (or stay in) the physical condition required by the Army in order to be promoted. Tom was one of several Strength and Conditioning Coaches utilized by the Army at Fort Leavenworth.

After Tom found out about the cuts, he began looking for other jobs in the military around the US. He specifically wanted to stay close to the mountains (preferrably the Rocky Mountains) so he could continue to hunt and fish. I loved the mountains because of all the nature and beauty that seems to accompany them.

It was during this time that Tom and I began watching "Coast Guard Alaska" on the Weather Channel. ( We became addicted to it, in fact, watching it every time it came on. The show highlighted the rescue swimmers and the pilots that fly the helicopters to go rescue fishermen in distress, hunters that have gotten lost or could not deal well with the elements, and many other scenarios. The show also highlights these people and their families living in the community, in Kodiak, Alaska.

It wasn't long before Tom ran across a position for a Health Promotion Manager...where? Yep. None other than Kodiak, Alaska. I remember him asking me if I was even willing to consider relocating out to Alaska. It was far from my family, and a complete change from my beloved Kansas with rolling hills and wide-open spaces.

By that time, though, I had watched enough of the shows to realize that Kodiak was much more mild in their winters than the rest of the state. It was also very much a "community", small and seemingly friendly. I grew up in small towns and loved the idea that we could remain in a small community while having "the great outdoors" as our playground. So, I told him, "go for it". I also knew that this job would be a step up for him, and (ultimately) his dream job. I had to support him, and encourage him. My love for him and my adventurous spirit made this move a genuine possibility.

A few months later, we found out...he got the job, and after getting married we were moving nearly 4000 miles away from "home". I was too busy to be too excited. Working as a Senior Assessor at the Behavior Health Assessment Center for a major Kansas City Hospital made the move to Kodiak even that much more attractive. Although I deeply enjoyed the work of assessing mental health in a fast-paced (38 room) Emergency Room, I longed for things to slow down and to reclaim what it meant to relax. I had been through 4 years of graduate school (first masters degree in Art Therapy and second in Mental Health Counseling), started an Art Therapy program at a Community Mental Health Center in Kansas (during a recession), and was teaching psychology classes at a college, as well as a university. Needless to say, I was busy.

Tom and I had discussed having children. We both were in our 40's and had never had children. I wanted to slow things down so I could prepare to be pregnant and then have children. Moving to Alaska was the perfect opportunity.

So, Tom accepted the job. We set a date for getting married. Our things were (all) shipped to Kodiak. And Tom left for a month to begin his job in Alaska.

He flew back to Kansas on May 18th, we were ready to get married on the 19th, and then both fly to California for the honeymoon, and finally from there flying to Kodiak.

Now, we're in the great state...

We, in fact, do our walk-through today for the duplex we will be renting. And, our things will be delivered tomorrow.
The sun has come out a little. When it does, the island is gorgeous, with mountain views on three sides, and the ocean view on the fourth.

There is much more to share...our honeymoon in Yosemite National Park, the Crab Festival on the pier the weekend we arrived in Kodiak, and pics I have taken along the way showing life in what seems to be a very gracious community.

The fun is just beginning!