Ten years ago tonight I made one of those seemingly insignificant decisions that changed my entire life.

I had gone out to dinner with my parents and godparents in New York City. When we returned to our house, I stood at the foot of the stairs, trying to decide if I should go to bed or get on the computer. Back then, there was only dial up, which tied up the phone lines. I liked to use the internet at off peak times. 11 p.m. seemed like off peak enough.

The internet was so painfully young then. I can remember searching for some basic words and coming up with nothing at all. I tried “sex club new york city” and got zip. Today? Over 23 million.

Chatting was somewhere between infancy and toddlerhood, having already gained a bad rap when some girl was lured to a guys house and he raped her. But there was only one of those cases that I had heard of at that time.

I hopped into a chat room as Velvet (ha!) and off I went. Mostly it was people who were new and thought it was so cool you could talk in real time. Some guy started talking to me. We moved around to a couple rooms and tortured some people. We went off to a private chat. We went back to torture some more unsuspecting souls. I found myself with a pretty perfect “chat buddy.” A trouble-making derelict like myself who enjoyed a bit of humor.

When the sun came up I realized I had to go to work. Where had the last seven hours gone? Anyway, we made plans to meet in the room again, not that evening as it was New Years Eve, but the following evening.

Three weeks later I was on a plane to Atlanta to meet him.

Nine months later he was in a truck to New York to help me move down to Atlanta.

At our second and fourth anniversaries, we faltered a bit. On our sixth anniversary, we had grown so far apart it seemed there would be no mending. On our seventh anniversary, no longer together, we weren’t even speaking. Nor would we speak for the eighth or ninth. But shortly after our ninth anniversary of the day we met, we got in contact again and remain, to this day, in communication.

While we are on different paths and there will not be another opportunity for us in a romantic capacity, that man was my first love. We went through hell and back together. He was such an amazing and powerful first love that three years after our breakup, a series of dreams starring the two of us forced me to admit that my then-relationship, which was headed toward marriage, was seriously wrong. Even when he wasn’t in my life, he was still saving my ass from disaster. We remain friends and to this day don’t hang up the phone without saying, “I love you.”

For K… ten years. You set the bar high. I will always love you.