The True Love Story Of How A Boy-Crazy Girl Found ‘The One’ On New Year’s Eve

Photo: courtesy of the author
Real Love Stories: How A Boy-Crazy Woman Found True Love On A New Year's Eve Blind Date

“Watch out for her,” the guy in the corner said. “She’s cute, but very clingy.”

It was New Year’s Eve and the guy was talking to my date — about me — and he was not wrong.

"Clingy” may have been the least of my issues at twenty-two. The bigger, underlying problem was I wanted to see love everywhere I looked, and I looked hard. Some people may call it romantic, others called me "boy crazy".

For example: That night in 1997, I brought a blind date to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party.

When I tell this story now, people always say, “A blind date on New Years’ Eve? You’re so brave!” In this context, “You’re so brave,” actually means "that seems like a terrible idea!" It's the northern version of “Bless your heart.”​

Little did they know, this was the beginning of one of the most wonderful true love stories —​ to us, at least.

the author and her husband in the 1990s

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I knew people who called me boy crazy — an inherently ableist and sexist term — did not mean it as a compliment, but I also sensed, even before I knew what feminism was, that this was a slight being leveled at me that would not be leveled at a boy who acted the same way.

One Urban Dictionary definition of “Boy Crazy” reads, “what you call a slutty girl when they're your friend,” which is a lot to unpack and speaks to the sexist ways in which society sees a girl or woman who is deemed overly amorous or sexual.

While I was generally a level-headed rule-follower who tended towards pragmatic pessimism, being boy crazy meant I still had hope for a wonderful, magical world of unlimited possibility in one small part of my life. I had to hold onto that dream. Nothing else — work, finances, life in general — had panned out. I was a romantic who wanted to fall in love. I still wanted the real-life true love story.

By the time I was twenty-two, I had already bungled actual relationships, awkward friend-zone situations, and one-off hooks-up with a bevy of crush-worthy and not-so-crush-worthy guys.

There was the guy who played football with my brother in high school; there was the hot guy in my freshman dorm who liked raves and rock climbing whom I accidentally insulted. Then there was the drummer in that one band, and the drummer in that other band, and the drummer in that other, other band … This list is only limited by word-count constraints.

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But I was undeterred. True love was around the next corner. I was sure of it. And that New Year’s Eve, I was right.

The author and her husband on their wedding day

As the rest of the party-goers huddled around a TV in the living room to watch the ball drop, I took my blind date into the kitchen alcove that looked over the Brooklyn Promenade. We kissed for the first time and actual, for-real fireworks exploded over the East River in the distance. Sam and I have been together ever since. Sort of.

The first two-and-a-half years of our relationship was spent long-distance. At different points, we were separated by a short plane ride, a few hours on a train, or a whole ocean. I borrowed a friend’s internet connection and AIM account to Instant Message with him. I punched my calling card into payphones in bars to touch base with him in Chicago. I used a dial-up connection at my cousin’s to send email to him in Israel. I was resourceful. Yes, it was a relationship that many people would call "old school" these days.

To us, it was romantic.

What’s a little thing like thousands of miles of distance and very expensive phone bills to someone who was “brave” enough to take a blind date to a New Year’s Eve party?!

My boy-craziness had turned into Sam-specific craziness.

The morning after we met, I told my mom that he might be “the one.”

Never one to let me off the hook, she reminded me that I had said that before. She was not wrong, but that did not stop me from approaching Sam and our burgeoning relationship with the same gusto I had approached all the boys before him.

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The author and her family, two decades after meeting on New Year's Eve

It may have scared him at first, but in the years that have followed, he has often complimented me on my enthusiasm and stick-to-it-ness that’s able to create something (like our relationship) out of nothing (a few drunken hours at a raucous party).

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After spending the first two-and-a-half years with great physical distance between us, Sam and I moved into our first apartment together. In our lovely basement apartment it was easy to think the hardest part of our relationship was behind us. We were in our mid-twenties and starting our life together, for real, with one-bedroom, two salaries, and a complete and utter lack of understanding of what was to come.

Since meeting on that cold December night more than two decades ago, we’ve weathered two cross-country moves, the death of two parents (my dad, then his mom, both in their sixties), the death of two of our cats (his first-ever pets), the birth of our two kids (one after a complicated conception, pregnancy, and delivery, the other via an unplanned C-Section), more jobs (and spells of unemployment) than I care to count, and countless dramas — big and small — all real and formidable (and some ongoing).

Over the last twenty years, our family has become the new object of my clinginess, or, as I like to call it, my tenacity.

I think that’s what my head-down-teeth-clenched spirit really is. As a teenager, I lacked an appropriate focus for that energy and made many embarrassing missteps trying to figure it out. It earned me labels like “boy-crazy”, “clingy,” “over-dramatic,” and everyone’s favorite sexist double-standard, “slutty”.

But when the man who was brave enough (“Bless his heart!”) to walk into a room full of people he didn’t know just for the chance to meet me turned out to be someone I could share my life with, I found someone worthy of my tenacity.

So each year we’re together, at midnight on New Year’s Eve, we honor and celebrate our bravery, our willingness to run towards possibility, and my ability to continually make something out of nothing. And then we put the kids to bed.

I remain mildly pessimistic about most things, but I save my optimism for our relationship. What else can we do but love each other fiercely and do hard things bravely?

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Jamie Beth Cohen's writing has appeared in, The Washington Post/On Parenting, Salon, and several other outlets. Her debut novel, Wasted Pretty, was published by Black Rose Writing in 2019. Set in Pittsburgh in 1992, Wasted Pretty is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who faces wanted and unwanted attention when she inadvertently goes from blending in to standing out.