I've always believed that for everyone with a pulse, there is at least one person who makes them feel right at home and rocks them to the core all at the same time. The kind of person that you feel you've known forever after two weeks. For me, that person was Melody Hammond... my awkward, funny, somewhat nerdy, somewhat sarcastic, all around perfect and cute ginger internet buddy. Before we met, my life was a confused jumble of depression, stress eating, and feeling absolutely worthless. But she was the girl who came into my world, and made me feel... well, whole. I've seen enough of life to know how people fit together, and I know that she was the piece of the puzzle that made everything else make sense. And without a decent wifi connection and my dusty old HP computer, I would never have met the most amazing girl I've ever known.
We met on Facebook through this weird dating app in 2009, which was a little creepy in retrospect. And, also in retrospect, I was sort of a massive dork back then. I mean... one of the reasons I adored her was because she used proper English when instant messaging. (Don't judge me, proper use of there/their/they're is sexy.) Anyway, I saw her profile on that dating app, and I thought she was pretty cute, so I shot her a message. We bonded over, among other things, our mutual love of Harry Potter, and naturally, bickered over who knew more about it. The more we talked, the more I wanted to... I don't know, stand outside her window at 12 AM, holding a boom box and playing her favorite song. Aside from the fact that this sort of thing is frowned upon in New York City, the only real problem with that particular impulse was that Melody lived nowhere near New York City.
That's right, I made mistake number one on my list of things not to do on the internet: fall for someone far away. I mean, it's not like she lived in New Mexico... just upstate New York. Up where there are probably more cows than people. Still, I was devastated when I found out; the irrational parts of my brain wanted to pack up and move up north. Those parts would have won, too, if I'd thought for even a second that she felt the same way. But my gut told me that she didn't, so I kept my feelings quiet, and did what any other normal person falling for someone on the internet would do; I dated other people.
As it turns out, that particular course of action wound up being a mistake, in every way possible. Over the two years between meeting Melody and "The Incident", I was abused, cheated on, stolen from, and just plain mistreated. (That's right... it happens to guys too. And yes, we cry over it. Manly tears of rage.) Most of the time, I was so involved with the girl I happened to be dating, that my feelings for Melody kept quiet. I thought I was happy... but whenever I was unhappy, or there was no girl to fill the Melody-shaped void, a tiny voice in the back of my head would whisper, Go for the girl up north. A voice which I ignored, for two good reasons; 1) Because if you're hearing voices, it's probably not a healthy sign, and 2) Because she had only ever shown a platonic interest in me. So, with those two reasons in mind, I pushed my unrequited feelings aside, and allowed the abuse to continue, all while talking to the girl from across the state that somehow became my best friend.
Eventually, there came a time when I was single, and talking to Melody on Skype. For the first time since we met, things felt normal. I was talking to a girl that I genuinely liked, who didn't insult me every ten seconds, or use me for my money, or tell me I was worthless. We joked around, did funny stuff on camera, and talked about everything and nothing, just like usual. But as the night wore on, and we got tired, things got weird in the best possible way. Melody brought up that if neither of us were married in twenty years or so, we should just marry each other. It was a pleasant surprise; of all the things I expected to come out of her mouth, that was... well, not the last thing, but definitely not high on the list. But it made sense. We talked about how we were perfect for each other, and even started planning out how we would raise our kids. All the while, I wanted nothing more than to ask, "Why do we have to wait twenty years?" But I never did. The rational part of my brain won again, and I kept quiet.
And then... "The Incident" came. A couple of months after deciding that we were going to get married (On September 13th, 2031), Melody told me that she was coming to New York City for her senior trip, or somesuch. I was ecstatic, and hoped like hell that we would wind up meeting somehow. It almost didn't happen; either I was always busy, or her group hopped from tourist trap to tourist trap too fast, but there always seemed to be something keeping us apart. Ultimately, I managed to catch up to her at the Bronx Zoo. (Not the most romantic place, really, but it was our last shot. Their next stop was Penn Station, and at that point I would have given up.)
It took a few minutes to find her, but when I made my way to the food court, I spotted her immediately. Normally, it would have struck me as odd that I could tell Melody from the back of her head without having met her before, but she stuck out like a Yankees fan in a bar in Boston. The back of her head guided me over to a table near the cash register, and once I sat down, I knew I'd found the right girl. She looked just like the picture I'd seen two years ago; locks of bright red, emerald eyes, freckles everywhere, and a smile that could launch a thousand ships. If you didn't know any better, you would almost think she was a Weasley. (Although, not Ginny... her hatred for Ginny knows no bounds. However, that's a story for another time.) I'll admit, it was kind of awkward at first, which is what tends to happen when you put two awkward people together. And it was harder talking to her in person than I thought it would be, awkwardness aside; my tongue kept misbehaving, and every time I went to say something smooth, it either came out as a mumble or didn't come out at all. So, after five minutes, I reverted to my usual mode of communication: biting sarcasm.
We wandered around the zoo for a few minutes, talking here and there, and I bought some Dipping Dots so I'd have something to do with my hands... they get shaky when I'm nervous. We found our way to the gift shop, and she went in, but I mostly hung back and watched while she looked at the cool stuff on the shelves. I was still just a tad shaky, but the Dots helped a little. I kept getting the impulse to... I don't know, grab her hand, or hug her from behind, or something. Just when these impulses started to get on my nerves, Melody walked over to me, grabbed my spoon, stole some of my Dipping Dots, and walked away like nothing happened. Normally, I'd have been confused, and a little bit annoyed, because 1) You don't touch a fat man's food, and 2) those things are like six dollars a cup. But instead, I found it... I don't know. Endearing? Bold? Cute? Whichever adjective my brain decided on at the time, I just knew it made me relax, and I was finally able to be comfortable around her.
All too soon, we had to go our separate ways... her group was heading to the train that would take them all the way back up to Middle of Nowhere, New York. Melody and I turned to say goodbye to each other, and during the few seconds that our eyes locked, my heart started pounding as hard as it could, as if it were trying to break out of my chest and give itself to her. (Not exactly a graceful phrase, but hey! I'm not a very graceful person.) I swallowed hard, and asked myself, What do I do? Do we shake hands? Hug? Kiss? God, what if I kiss her and she freaks out? What if she kisses me and I go into cardiac arrest? What if- And then, it happened. I don't know how, or exactly why, but we ended up sharing a fist bump. Then Melody smiled, and turned away to rejoin her group.
I know what you're thinking... "A fist bump? Really? THAT'S what this whole story leads up to?" But believe me when I say, it was a lot more magical than you'd think. Awkward, yes, but magical. When our fists collided, and our skin touched for the first time, something... changed. It was small, and hardly noticeable, and I still don't know exactly what it was, but I knew that something major was about to change. And... it did. We wound up talking later on that night, and she let it slip that she had been harboring a more-than-friendly interest in me for a while. I told her that the feeling was mutual, and in spite of the distance, we wound up dating. I don't know what's going to happen... maybe we'll end up married like we said, maybe we'll hate being together and never speak again, who knows. But the one thing I do know is that I've never felt more blessed than when I get a text from my awkward, funny, somewhat nerdy, somewhat sarcastic, all around perfect and cute ginger girlfriend from across the state.