Like a lot of people, I get pretty sick of Valentine's Day, not because of the fanfare, but because of how much it glorifies superficial love. If this were truly a holiday about genuine, meaningful love it would be celebrated any day and every day of the year. This is not an opine on that; today I thought it would be appropriate to share the story of how C and I met, and how when we stop looking for our superficial definitions of love, a genuine and meaningful love will emerge...for everyone.
On Friday, June 20, 2014 I decided to come out of social hibernation for the past few months and got to enjoy life again. For the first few months of the year I had been in training to become the lead analyst at WSS and the stress had been so overwhelming that I abandoned my friends and social life. My friend Sam, ever hopeful that I would one day snap out of it, invited me to a music performance that he was giving in the Grove Street Plaza that evening. After being a no-show to many other shows, I made an effort to attend this one. Before the performance, Sam made a point to introduce me to Carsten - a German guy he and our friends had befriended at our favorite bar a few months earlier. My first thought was, "Of course you found the one German guy in the neighborhood." After the introduction, my next question is the one that so few Americans can ask with any kind of follow up: "What part of Germany are you from?" He mentioned he grew up near Cologne, which ironically enough I knew all too well. One of my two best friends during my time in France was a girl from Cologne and I had heard all about it. I'm not sure how randomly the conversations evolved, but one thing I noticed above everything else that night was that I was acting completely myself. Nothing was forced, no emotions or reactions, my responses were not catered to consider offense, sensitivity, or daintiness - this was Jenny Coombs in the rawest form, and I never recall acting this way around anyone else.
Neither of us are particularly "romantic" people. I hate getting silly, thoughtless gifts because I never know how to react; I would rather be given experiences. Without even conveying this, C already seemed to know and understand that. Our first date was at a fancy Japanese restaurant in Tribeca and for my 30th birthday my present was a surprise helicopter ride over all of New York City - up until that point I had been given jewelry (which I rarely wear), flowers that die in a day, and dorky teddy bears (I cringe when I see that Vermont Teddy Bear commercial every Valentine's Day).
Ultimately it never pays to dismiss someone for superficial things. Literally a week before C and I met I joined Match.com with the hope of trying something new...but it led me back to the same old guys. C was just outside the age cusp of men I would consider dating, he smokes, he's divorced, and he has a young son - all things that would have prevented me from meeting him via a dating website. Despite this filter, C and I have more in common than quite possibly anyone I have ever met, and I am more compatible to him than all the men I've dated combined - it really was just the right place at the right time.
A friend remarked how cute it was that I was just so happy and still in love after being together nearly two years. When they asked how did I know I was in love, I merely replied, "I didn't have to ask myself that question...when there is no doubt, then it is real." It is my hope that all of you find a love like this - you may find in the end that the love is with yourself or a higher calling - but in the end we all find something. I wish I hadn't spent so much of my youth anxious of whether or not I would find love, because you ultimately do - one way or another.