One day, instead of packing up my apartment, I decided to download the Hinge app after seeing my future roommate in a successful relationship with someone she met on Hinge. On Aug 5, 2020 I matched with a white boy sitting on a dock named Sam Monkman. We spent the next couple of weeks messaging each other on the app and learning about one another. I finally moved into my new apartment and thought it was time to delete the app and focus on unpacking/finding a job. I gave Sam my phone number and he instantly texted me - proving that he wanted to continue to get to know me. On Sept 7th, Sam texted me to let me know he was going to be in town the next day (he lived an hour away from me) and wanted to see if I wanted to get coffee in "the afternoon." As someone who plans every moment in my life, I thought two things 1) "He wants to make plans tomorrow? I usually plan my life out days in advance" and (2) "What time is the afternoon?" After remembering I was unemployed and had no plans, I agreed and the two of us made plans to get ice cream (not coffee). The next day, Sam suggested Gelato Fiasco (not ice cream) for our first date. I was 30 minutes late, but we had a great time. We got gelato and walked around the same block about four times in the Old Port (downtown Portland) before Sam asked if we wanted to go to the Eastern Prom (clearly things were going well). We walked around the prom talking about how we would live on a boat, the fact that I didn't like dogs (or pets in general), and our goals/dreams. At the end of the date, Sam asked me if he could give me a kiss and I, shocked at his gentlemenness, said yes. We continued to see each other on a consistent basis. After apple picking, car explosions, protests, phone conversations, many text messages, and sheep we made the relationship official. We spent the next 11 months visiting each other on weekends, meeting halfway on Wednesdays for car dates, and falling in love. Slowly for me and quicker for Sam. In Aug 2021, we embarked on our hardest journey yet: long-distance dating. Sam moved to Nebraska to pursue his Ph.D. and I stayed behind in Maine, 1300 miles away. We spent every night talking on the phone, planned virtual dates, and visited each other as often as we could. We decided to spend Christmas together in Florida and little did I know, that trip would change our lives forever. While in Florida, Omicron was at its peak. Many of my friends and family contracted COVID and we were in quarantine because we were close contacts. Once out, I made plans to get dinner with my friends and Sam on January 2nd, 2022. The morning of, Sam "wasn't feeling well" so he opted to stay home. After showing up to dinner late, my friends were rushing me to finish my dinner so we could “open presents at Ami's house.” When I arrived, "I See The Light" from Tangled was playing and at the end of the rose-petaled walkway was Sam standing in a heart of candles on the dock. I was quite shocked and walked towards Sam where he read me a poem he wrote and got down on one knee to ask me if I would marry him. I instantly said YES! Surrounded by my friends and family, I was overjoyed!
In 2020, my dating app radius was set to max (it’s tough looking for love in your hometown of 800 retirees), and when I saw a "like" on Hinge from a woman wearing a Jamaican flag as a cape, I thought it was worth a shot. We chatted for a little while and when I finally got up the courage to ask Zoë out, she said no. Disappointed, I went about my life, and soon another opportunity presented itself. I had to go into Portland, and as I was planning my trip to the big city, I thought I might as well make a day of it and see this pretty lady from Hinge. I asked again if Zoë might want to go out for coffee or something (as casual as possible). She didn’t respond, so I made other plans. It was lucky that those fell through, because when Zoë finally got around to responding, the next chapter of my life began. We planned to meet for gelato (which is, for all intents and purposes, ice cream), but I began to worry as the minutes ticked by and Zoë was nowhere to be seen. Just as I was ready to pack it in, she materialized. My relief quickly grew into pure joy as we walked and talked for what felt like moments but was really hours. Loath to leave, but not wanting to walk the same few blocks a seventh time, I suggested we continue our date by the water at the Eastern Prom. A few more hours later, we kissed goodbye and went our separate ways. Fully smitten, I showed great restraint by waiting a full five minutes after getting home to text Zoë and say I’d like to see her again. For the next few weeks, we saw each other most weekends, and called occasionally, learning about one another’s hopes, passions, and dreams. One new car entered our lives the same day an old one left it, we protested police brutality, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, and I was quickly falling in love. On Zoë’s first visit to my neck of the literal woods, I was nervous. I had very romantically asked her via text during the vice-presidential debate whether we should make our relationship official. She waited a good hour before responding … that I should ask again later. So it was with a pounding heart that I drove us to a vineyard minutes before closing time (Zoë was late). Watched over by the grapes and the sheep, I asked again, and Zoë confirmed at last that we were a pair. The slope of my fall into love grew slipperier still. I was the first to say “I love you,” but Zoë didn’t wait too long afterward. The months that followed were wonderful, full of love and joy. There were difficult moments, but all throughout Zoë and I cared for one another and our love grew. We knew the easy part was soon to end, though, as grad school loomed on the horizon. In August of 2021, eyes blurred from too many tears, I left to cross the country and pursue my new challenge: learning to count. Adjusting to being a student again after years of working wasn’t always easy, and I was living in a new place surrounded by new people. There were many moments when I doubted myself, but one thing I never doubted was Zoë. It wasn’t long before I knew what was next for us, though again Zoë wasn’t sure yet. If we could survive 2000 miles of distance, we could survive anything. I planned and agonized, all with the help of Zoë’s closest friends. After visiting home for Thanksgiving and filling my heart with family, and with Zoë, I was ready. I couldn’t wait, and on the drive home from the Omaha airport, I bought the ring. The next time we saw each other was Christmas, which we spent in Florida. Plans changed two or five times, as nearly every one of Zoë’s friends and family contracted COVID or left town. But finally, on the 2nd of January, 2022, everything was in place. Val, Ami, and Jess took Zoë to an early dinner while Ms. Lewis, Sarah, and I lit our fake candles and spread our polyester rose petals. The plan was for sunset, and it was only an hour later that Zoë arrived at Ami’s backyard. Beautiful as she always is, she has never looked as perfect as when she said “yes.”