by Linda L. Esterson
At first glance of her profile on dating site Plenty of Fish in October 2012, Jason Riley was taken with Jamie Haines’ eyes.
Her eyes still attract him nearly three years later, according to Jason, an electrician for Miles Electric in the Windsor Mill area of Baltimore.
Jason contacted Jamie and they spoke for two months before meeting, either online or through text message. One day that December, Jason texted about getting together. Only Jamie was in the throes of a deep cleaning of her Hanover home. They met the next night at Aroogas.
“I remember what she was wearing,” says Jason, now 33, describing her red Southwestern Cheerleading hoodie. “And, red looks good on her.”
Jamie felt quite comfortable with Jason, almost immediately. The night flew by as they sat in the bar from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., watching sports (a common interest) and talking. Then, Jason threw Jamie off-guard when he kissed her goodnight.
Despite the positive ending to the night, Jamie did not expect to hear from him ever again. After all, they were eight years apart, and she was older.
To her surprise, they communicated through text messages during the week and then returned to Aroogas the next weekend.
“The age difference was a concern because I wasn’t sure if it was a game or for real,” says Jamie, 40, a paralegal at Kalasnik Law Office in Hanover, and a cheerleading coach for several Hanover area teams. “As time went on, we got to an understanding it was for real and the interest was really there.”
On their third date, to dinner and the Festival of Lights in Columbia, Md., Jason met Jamie’s children. Her son, Nicholas Haines, now 20, recently moved to North Carolina following culinary school, and daughter Megan Barnes, 17, attends South Western High School in Hanover.
By spring, Jamie told Jason she was falling in love with him, and asked Jason if that scared him. A few months later, he revealed his feelings of love as well.
The couple got together every weekend, and enjoyed their common interests – a love of the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Capitals. For their first Christmas together, Jamie bought Jason tickets to a Hershey Bears hockey game.
As their future together seemed inevitable, the unromantic Jason asked Jamie to marry him three times, often in a joking manner. In late summer, about eight months into their relationship, Jamie received a series of text messages. B. E. M. Y. W. I. F. E. Y.
A month later during a conversation at Jason’s home, Jamie asked him, “Who asks someone to marry them through a text message?”
Jason dropped to his knee and asked her in person.
Jamie scoffed at the seemingly joking gesture. Jason, however, was discouraged.
“Apparently, I was his first real relationship,” said Jamie. “I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and I was not interested in playing games.”
In September, as they prepared to attend Jamie’s first-ever wine festival, Jason commented about his Facebook status, which he had changed to “in a relationship.” A frustrated Jamie asked what hers should say and handed Jason her phone.
He quickly clicked on “engaged.”
“Before I could say anything, he clicked send,” said Jamie, whose phone then received a deluge of congratulatory texts from friends and family members.
In early 2014, after a disagreement about “something unimportant,” Jamie told Jason she could take him seriously, only if she had an engagement ring. In late May, they went ring shopping. After narrowing down the choices to two, the salesperson threw in another option.
Jamie chose the third ring, unaware that it was Jason’s selection. Jason purchased the ring that day, and at the same time, Jamie bought him a wedding band.
They were married May 10, 2015 at Mayberry Mill in Westminster, Md. Seventy guests observed as Pastor Bruce Bouchard from Grace United Church of Christ and Pastor Ronald Reeves, Jamie’s childhood pastor, officiated. Instead of a unity candle, they united with a unity cross, with pins representing the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
The wedding and reception was all Baltimore Ravens. Other than Jamie’s wedding gown and Jason’s tuxedo, the entire wedding party wore Ravens jerseys, including the clergy, as did the guests, who enjoyed the tailgate party reception. The 14-page program was formatted like a Ravens Game Day Program, and guests signed a poster board drawing of an aerial view of Ravens Stadium. Instead of a bouquet, Jamie threw a football.
Jamie knew with Jason her life was a touchdown from the beginning of their relationship. When she was young, she spent much of her time with her grandparents. As she tagged along with them, she noticed they always held hands, even in the car. She knew the first man who did that for her, unsolicited, was the one for her.
On their first date, Jason grabbed Jamie’s hand, and it did not go unnoticed.
“Every time we go somewhere, he grabs my hand,” she said. “And, he’s not afraid to tell me he loves me.”