The journey from meeting on a dating app to meeting in real life can sometimes be a complicated one, and in this series, we’ll examine its ups and downs. Today, Hannah, a food writer living in New York City recalls her first interactions with Anthony.

December 24: I swipe right. He is super cute and has a warm smile.  

December 25: I spend a traditional New York Jewish Christmas with my family — a movie and Chinese food. I snap at my dad when he asks me how dating is going. “It sucks,” I say. I’ve had a bunch of first dates that never led to seconds. I ended it with the last guy I really liked, an Israeli math professor, after I told him, “I’m looking for someone I can share my heart with and vice versa,” and he responded, “I can’t do that.” Ugh.  

I’m nursing a weird combination of cynicism and hope as I reboot my dating app. I’m back home in Harlem on Christmas night. My roommate is with her family and the place feels empty and eerily quiet. I turn on some music and — hooray — there’s a message from Anthony:

“How’s your festive season going?”

I tell him about the movies and Chinese food. It turns out that Anthony is from the U.K. and lives in NYC. He’s staying with his parents for the holidays, near Birmingham. He messages me about his family Christmas traditions: smoked salmon and Champagne for breakfast, port and stilton for dessert. I work with cheese, and all this culinary talk intrigues me. I like a guy who appreciates good food.

It’s super late in England, and he says he has to “climb the wooden hill.” I have to Google the phrase; apparently it means go to bed. I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

December 27: Another message from Anthony: “What did I say when the kid threw a wheel of cheddar at me?…That’s not very mature!” OMG — cheese jokes. He knows the way to my heart. This guy is promising. We exchange numbers.

January 3: I get a text: Anthony’s back in town. Yay! We make plans to meet up after work for a drink. I’m really excited to meet this guy, but I tell myself not to get my hopes up.

January 6: Date night! But I wake up feeling sniffly, headachy, and awful. I think maybe I’ll rally if I stay in bed that morning, but by afternoon I feel worse. I text Anthony and ask if we can reschedule. His message back is so sweet I like him even more. We move our plan to the next week.

January 12: I’m supposed to see Anthony tomorrow, but I get an invite to a work event. I’m conflicted — I’m eager to meet Anthony, but this invitation seems almost too good to pass up. I call my mom for advice. I can’t remember what she says, but I figure if I’ve waited this long to meet this guy, I can wait a few days more. I cringe as I write my second message asking to reschedule. I hate being a flake! I’m worried he’s going to give up on me.

He texts back right away, and it’s both better and worse than I expected. Better because he doesn’t seem to be giving up on the whole thing. Worse because he’s heading on a business trip to London for six weeks. Six weeks is like six years in dating time. I figure I’ve missed my chance.

January 15: I’m writing a story on New Haven pizza, and I send him a picture of my clam pie. He texts back a magazine story about his friend’s new bar in London that he has plans to visit that night.

He sends another cheese joke: “What’s Jay Z’s favorite cheese? Brie-once!”

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February 16: Anthony’s back in town. I invite him to a wine tasting in Tribeca. Fingers crossed.

February 23: 6 p.m.: Finally! I’m actually going to meet this mysterious man. I leave myself plenty of extra time. It’s the height of the so called Polar Vortex, so cold it hurts, so I make sure to wear my extra warm coat. I don’t wear a hat — I’ve just blow-dried my hair and I don’t want to ruin it.

6:30 p.m.: At West 4th Street, that dreaded muffled announcement comes over the Subway sound system: “We are delayed due to a sick passenger.” Good thing I left early.

6:45 p.m.: Shit. We’re still not moving. I want to text Anthony and let him know, but I don’t have cell service.

6:52 p.m.: Thank God the subway is back in motion, crawling along. I message Anthony that I’m running a few minutes late. He says he’s saved me a seat and the tasting is starting.

7:00 p.m.: I get off the train and look for the wine shop. The little dot on my Google maps keeps jumping around. I only have three blocks to walk, but it’s so cold I lose feeling in my ears almost instantly. If only I had a less embarrassing sense of direction. Where am I?

7:04 p.m.: Frustrated, I jump in a cab. The cab will know the way better than Google maps! It’ll only take a minute. But the driver sounds confused. Out the window, I see we are driving up Broadway into Soho; this is definitely not right. My heart is jumping beneath my gigantic winter coat — how have I managed to mess this up again?

7:15 p.m.: Somehow, we’ve found the wine shop. I pay the cabbie and run into the place. The presentation is in full swing, and everyone is quietly hunched over their rows of red, intently focused. On my way to the seat Anthony has saved for me, I knock over a whole row of wine glasses with my puffy parka. They crash to the ground, red wine flowing onto the floor and glass shattering. Everyone turns to look at me. My face feels as red as the wine I have spilled.

7:18 p.m.: They have cleaned up the mess, I have apologized, and now I turn to say hi to Anthony. He is even cuter in person. We get shushed for talking during the presentation. I can’t focus on the winemaker or his Powerpoint. I swirl the wine in my glass and steal glances at my date.

8 p.m.: We head to Terroir Tribeca and share a bottle of bubbly, Brussels sprouts, and anchovies. We talk about Brussels sprouts, New York City, and so many other things that we’re the last people in the place. When the bartender starts flipping chairs onto tables, we get the hint: It’s time to go home. Anthony walks me to the subway, a true gentleman. He even lends me his hat. It’s so unbearably cold I don’t even worry about hat hair. As I head up the steps at 145th Street, back in my neighborhood, there’s a lovely message from him. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but the first date was absolutely worth the wait.

So how’d it work out? When I first met Anthony, he was just a (promising) collection of photos on my iPhone screen. We started messaging on Christmas Day of 2014, but it took us until the end of February 2015 to actually have our first date. Now he’s my favorite person ever and we got married last month.