Somehow, I got lucky
I was your typical (angsty) teenager. Like most people, I was trying to find my voice, trying to find what made me unique, and how I could use that to become popular...needless to say I failed. Once, for some reason, I decided to ask one of the most popular girls in school on a date, instead of my actual crush (who was friends with her). That's a dumb story for another day.
In 2002, 14 was my age when a friend of mine called (remember when this happened?) to pester me about joining an "exciting" new social network called, Classface. I'll paraphrase the conversation here:
Cleo: OMG Paul, you need to join this site. It's hella dope.
Me: Uh-huh. What site?
Cleo: It's called Classface and--
Me: (mumbling) That sounds dumb.
Cleo: --you get to meet people from around the world!
Me: I don't even like people near me, why the hell would I like people far away?
Cleo: JUST JOIN IT NIGGA.
With a heavy sigh I typed www.classface.com into Internet Explorer (yes, seriously) and was greeted with basic, sparse web design reminiscent of the era.
Back then, no one thought about the need for private profiles. After all, wouldn't you want people to find you? I spent a couple minutes looking at random profiles until I saw a face that took me aback. Here was this girl from Phenix City, Alabama (what the hell is "Phenix", I thought at the time, shouldn't it be "Phoenix"?) and she had such a genuinely happy smile. "Keisha Page", I thought to myself, "I like that name". She was fiiiiine as hell too! I hovered over whatever button to get to the next random profile while having an internal discussion with myself.
Lame Voice: Wowee, who the hell is THAT?
Cooler Voice: Your future girl bro!
Lame Voice: Nah, that'd never happen.
Cooler Voice: Not with that attitude! Just say hi.
Lame Voice: Really? No way man, I'm nervous.
Cooler Voice: You can't be a bitch all your life. You can't even tell Shawna you like her, you can at least tell a girl who lives THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY that she looks cute. She realize you a scrub? Delete your account!
And so, that's what I did! I scoured her profile for an opener and saw that she was a fan of Degrassi (the Drake era). I believe I wrote something along the lines of:
Hey, I just joined this site and I just happened to find your page. I wanted to let you know that you have a pretty smile anyhoo did you see what Skinner did to Marco last week? What a bum, yeah, Jimmy should've said something to him.
(For those who don't know, Drake's character was named Jimmy on the show.)
I anxiously awaited her reply and probably played Road Rash on a Shockwave site to pass the time. To my delight, she thanked me and our friendship flourished thanks to our shared interests. I'd like to take a timeout to publicly thank Drake, Andrea Lewis (my favorite person on the show), and everyone else from Degrassi for making this possible.
Classface eventually became a lame place to be and it was their fault. They had the terrible idea to redesign the site but with no UX sense. No one knew where to go to do things you could do in the original version and I believe they messed the site up more trying to fix it. So, everyone moved to Myspace.
It was during this time that Keisha gave me her phone number (holla!) and I heard her Southern accent for the first time and we would talk for hours about how wack our parents were, dreams for the future, and everything in-between.
Years later, I would reminisce about those conversations and create music. Here's a sampling of those tracks:
Dusty Stars is from Music from the Love Lounge, Vol. 01 (this cuts off early for some reason, probably data corruption) and Remember When is from Vol. 02. I sometimes find music a better conduit to express my thoughts than simply talking.
Keisha and I got busy with our own lives and communicated less but I would check her profile every couple months to see what was new. At some point, I saw she was in a relationship with a guy I instantly disliked and partly because I was being a hater. From where I sat, thousands of miles away, it seemed like he wasn't treating her right and her journal posts confirmed my suspicions. When she uploaded a picture of herself with a baby on a beach, my unspoken hopes were smashed.
Like with Classface, Myspace became lame and so everyone jumped to Facebook. Keisha and I continued our random check-ins over the years but it wasn't until October 2011 that we reconnected. Her marriage to that terrible guy was over for quite some time but I was just happy to converse as a friend.
The following month, we became closer than I ever expected (or hoped) and I had the bright idea to try and visit her for Thanksgiving. She thought it was a fantastic idea so I begged my mom to buy me roundtrip tickets to Jacksonville, FL...my mom is a bit paranoid. Catfishing, abduction, and other crazy things happen all the time so she wasn't super keen about the idea at first. She made me promise to text her as soon as I landed (I forgot to do so until the next morning and got a rather disgruntled phone call, haha). Keisha and I were using Skype at this point and I was one thousand per cent sure she was real. 😏
When Keisha greeted me at the airport, it was surreal. We both had goofy grins on our faces and then hugged. Our immediate, simultaneous remarks were: "OMG you're so tall/short!". LOL
Luckily, her siblings and daughter liked me and we had a fun week full of jokes (you gotta come prepared with some zingers 'round these folks), fun, and of course...Thanksgiving. 😉
In fact, it was Thanksgiving Day that I asked/confirmed our relationship status. Pro tip: if you're forgetful of dates like I am, make sure anniversaries are on a date you know you won't forget. BWAHAHAHA!
Y'know those movies where a main character departs for a flight and the other main character is super sad with tears in their eyes but the first character wants to be strong for the second and tries really hard to keep it together? Yeah, that was us when it was time for me to head back to Boston. As soon as I turned away from Keisha and entered the airport, I was boo-hoo-Academy-Award-winning-actor-Viola-Davis crying. My. Tears. Were. Fugly. I looked like my mom AND dad took turns beating my ass for stealing cookies and smudging a wall they just painted after mooning the elderly Polish woman next door. It was bad man. My chest hurt.
Some of my friends at the time thought I was crazy to date someone on the other side of the country, and for a couple years at that! Keisha and I would visit each other at least twice a year for physical reminders of why we were together and spoke/texted nearly every day and that nourished our emotional and mental needs.
With our generation, I've seen and continue to see posts on social media where people are hella frustrated about relation-
ships shits they get into. The ratio of disappointment appears to be balanced. I believe 90% of issues could be solved with communication. Notice I didn't prefix the word "more". I don't think people communicate at all anymore. Millenials would rather swipe left/right and take pics or make statuses for likes that don't matter instead of communicating for love that does matter...ooh, that'd make a great post in of itself.
Even though Keisha and I knew each other for 10 years, we still had to learn how to live together. I was a guy in a two-bedroom apartment with a long-distance girlfriend and when she moved in, I suddenly had a three-year-old stepdaughter and couldn't fucking swear all the time. And furniture. Oh my gawd, Keisha had so much furniture. I had a desk...and a sad excuse for a bed. During Keisha's first night living in Massachusetts, a speeding driver knocked off the sideview mirror from her parked car (pro tip: don't live on Main Street, side streets are better).
I found that (gasp) Keisha could irritate me sometimes! I irritated her all the time! There was a period in the first year where everything could've gone up in smoke but we communicated. My default way of dealing with things at the time was to shut down and stew, have mock debates in my head. Little did I know, Keisha does that on a regular basis and always had an immediate response to everything I could possibly say. Hoo boy, I'm a pro now but that was not a fun time.
Compromise was something else I had to learn. I was resistant at first but when faced with the prospect of losing her and an adorable little girl who now saw me as "daddy" instead of "Paul", I quickly learned to adjust. I'm not a perfect guy today, but I am perfect for my family (or damn close to it). Don't hashtag, retweet, or share "relationship goals"...just learn how to compromise, communicate, and ensure your partner is on the same page. Remember when your parents made you eat nasty things with dinner? I would mix the nasty things with food I did like to get them out the way so I could enjoy the rest of my meal. The same thing applies to relationships; do the hard stuff now so you can enjoy growing together later.
I proposed to Keisha on Easter, earlier this year. Remember my pro tip from earlier? BWAHAHAHA!
And now? We're married! As far as what's next...growth. Our focus is creating an environment where our kids are nurtured, growing, and happy. That means becoming homeowners so we really own our own space, and helping each other thrive in our fields.
Keisha went from being a sailor in the Navy, waking up at the bootycrack of dawn to work out, have 24-hour shifts for some thing or other (idk, I'm a civilian) to becoming a stay-at-home-mom because we don't trust anyone with our toddler until he learns how to speak. We've been spooked by online videos of "caretakers" smacking babies in the face and parents wondering why their child has a fear of pillows. NOPE. 🖕🏾
Since our son's been born, Keisha has garnered a reputation in mom groups as THE go-to person when you want a custom designed shirt, poofy skirts, onesies, booties, and so on. I've designed logos for her and provided my designer-y expertise on how to deal with clients and she's flourishing!
I'm a simple man, I just want world domination.
It's amazing that two 14-year-old kids would connect on social media in 2002, only to marry each other 15 years later. Paul Webb and Lakeisha Page met online...Webb and Page met on a webpage. WebbPage. See? That's some high-quality movie shit. 🕸
This may sound completely fabricated to you, dear reader, but Keisha and I lived in the same city and our fathers were stationed at the same military base at the same time. Clarksville, Tennessee was the city, Fort Campbell was the military base, 1994-1997 was the time. Fort Campbell had "family days" and there would be lots of kids playing together. I don't remember any of the kids I saw/played with but it's quite possible that we've seen each other back then.
How weird is that?
During one of Keisha's early visits to Massachusetts, I asked her to appear on that year's release of Music from the Love Lounge. It's a fitting end to a post like this, check it out (beats by me)! 🕸
Here's my wife's post about how we met! Did you know that she found her dress at a thrift store and completely redesigned it? She's craftier than a mofo!