S: We first met on a chatroom for anime nerds in 2005. I was an awkward high-schooler with too much free time and not enough trouble to get into, so I frequented a lot of chatrooms for various interests, thinking I could strike better conversations there than in the meatspace. She mentioned that she was from Minnesota and this coincidence was deemed noteworthy enough by the both of us that we started having conversations ever so often. A year or two later we both stopped going online as much and we fell out of contact.
Probably four years after that we met on a geek dating site (none-the-wiser about who the other person was) and after we had talked a bit and realized we were both majorly crushing (but not enough to give away phone numbers), she sent me her IM screen name so we could continue chatting (back in 2010 people still had those). I quickly realized that she was already on my friends list and it was a very, very bizarre experience. I was visiting my sister in California at the time and I think I spent just about the whole vacation either glued to my computer or phone; she definitely put some spell on me.
L: We met in person for the first time at Tamarack Nature Center, which turned into ice cream, which turned into watching a movie, and after the movie we decided to play some video games.
S: I brought a camera that I was very much the amateur at using. (Probably to look impressive? Are entry-level cameras impressive?) It was a really hot day and my car had broken AC so I was definitely more sweaty than is considered attractive but I quickly forgot about that. After a few hours she asked if I wanted to get dinner and watching one of my favorite movies at her parents' house. I figured it would be awkward as hell but I still wanted to roll the dice. I wasn't wrong, the first thing her mom said to me is that I look like I could be her brother. I had these really cringe-worthy spike snake-bite piercings at the time that didn't really fit my face and I remember feeling the wave of regret for that particular facial accouterment as I shook her dad's hand.
L: It was around midnight before Sam went back home to hastings, a 45 minute drive from my parents' house, because we didn't want to stop hanging out.
First thing you noticed about one another?
L: His long hair and infectious smile. Also that he is a good hugger.
S: How shy she was. It was very cute.
L: I would describe Sam as the kind of person who always wants to make people laugh. He is a great friend and works hard to make people happy. In private he is the sweetest and most affectionate person I've ever met.
S: Lauren is extremely giving. She's one of the most kind people I know and will never hesitate to go out of her way to make someone's situation just a little bit better. Also very goofy.
L: I was laying on his lap and it was way too early for "I love you" talk but I said I thought I might be falling in love and he said he wasn't sure if he felt it quite yet because we didn't know each other well enough. So he asked me to talk about myself and my childhood and after listening me talk for about 45 minutes, he told me he thought he might be falling in love with me too and kissed me.
L: I would say our love of corgis was fueled by each other.
S: I wasn't too familiar with corgis before meeting lauren. I knew them as "that short dog", but that's about it. I guess I can thank her for my fully burgeoned love!
S: I had the idea brewing that I wanted to put my craft to use and make her a video game for when I proposed, but it was always somewhere by the horizon in that nebulous "near future" place. We had a rather intense heart-to-heart about marriage and family at a friend's wedding and I realized that this near future place was now much closer than I figured. I started casually working on the art assets for her game while coming up with the concept for what I wanted it to be. About three weeks into this, I realized that it would be absolutely impossible to give this game to her and not be immediately found out, except for my one plausible excuse: her birthday was in a week. I pleaded with my boss to take some very short notice paid time off and spend the following week grinding my butt off to get the game done in time. It was a photo finish (but like one where the photo reveals that I'm actually a little bit past the deadline), but I had it complete by 10am the day after her birthday. By this point, I think the jig was up but she's a sweetheart and still acted very surprised when the moment came.
L: It was a video game themed around the original "Legend of Zelda". He made the code and art, and had a friend make the music.
L: We both love games and other nerdy media. We both love the outdoors and camping but agree we don't camp or hike enough. We differ in complementary ways. I am an outgoing introvert, I'm great with people but need a good deal of alone time. Where as Sam is more shy, but loves being with family and friends any chance he can get.
S: We share a lot of the same hobbies and general life goals, so there's rarely a silent moment between us. Lauren jokes about how people say that couples in long-term relationships run out of things to talk about, so we've just invented meaningless topics to care about, and I think this is very true. As for differences, she's more artistically inclined, but I'm more driven by the idea of creating something and experiencing it's reaction. We have found that we definitely do not work well together when we try to combine these and work on a creative project together. I'm much too bossy.
L: Probably hanging out on "super bed", which was two twin mattresses pushed together in his parents basement. One night in particular we ate french dip sandwiches and beat the video game "Machinarium".
S: A few months after we started dating, Lauren accompanied me to a show my band was playing in some nameless Chicago basement that had a quarantined black mold corner. She had an on-call shift at 3pm the next day, meaning we had to leave for home at 7am for the possibility that she might have to work after our seven hour drive. It was kind of a bummer-y, sleepy ride and when she called in at 1pm to see if they'd need her, the management said they would so we kept trudging home. Ten minutes later, her boss called back and said that she actually wouldn't need to come in. What followed was probably one of the best days: a diamond in the rough.
L: My favorite tradition is the super bed thing. We lay out on a big bed in the living room and watch movies and play video games.
S: We visit the grounds of our first date once a year (normally around our anniversary), and just walk around and soak up the environment. Her birthday is a week after Valentine's Day so I try to give her a "hint" gift for Valentine's Day that is related the to the usually more impressive birthday gift. When I gave her the engagement game for her birthday, I lead up to it by making a craft of our dog in beaded pixel art.
S: The first tendency of hers that I noticed and found cute is whenever she yawns, she has to sniffle to un-pop her ears. It's always an adorable succession of events.
L: It takes a good 10 minutes for him to brush his teeth, every time he has to he distracts himself for 8 minutes to get ready for the act of brushing his teeth.
L: I enjoy his sense of humor, he can always make me laugh. He has also been the most helpful and reassuring partner through the riptide of being a 20-something.
S: I enjoy spending idle time together. I also really enjoy how much thought she puts into subjects like psychology and metacognition so our conversations are always illuminating.