The Wrong Guy

She wasn't even writing about him, and they fell in love

Jessie Spaccia

Long brown hair, a goatee, jeans and tennis shoes.

"I'm not sure you even saw me," the ad said. "I followed behind then passed you as we went our separate ways. I wanted to touch that gorgeous hair! Are you single? I am."

Garrett Hamlin thought it sounded like him. So Hamlin, 46, who doesn't have a computer, wrote the Inlander a letter asking us to forward his information on to the woman who'd placed the ad. When she called him two days later, he found someone with the same goofy sense of humor he has and a contagious laugh. And so even when he learned that the man she'd admired from afar wasn't him (that guy had much longer hair), Hamlin asked her out anyway. That piece of the story, the happy mistake, may be the most perfect twist for these two.

"We're both weird. We have a lot of the same quirks," says Stacy Hawley, 47, whose girlish giggle and pink cheeks make her joy infectious. So it only makes sense they'd meet in a way they now call "bizarre."

Hawley was exhausted from online dating, fending off the creeps and enduring awkward first dates. She'd told the universe to bring her the right person if he was out there. When she met Hamlin, she says she thought thought their compatibility was too good to be true. They talked on the phone for hours and met for lunch at a Shari's on Easter Sunday. They were apprehensive at first, both carrying some baggage from past relationships and a reluctance to be vulnerable again. But when they went a couple of weeks without talking, they couldn't stop thinking about each other. Soon, he told her, "You can get off those [dating] sites. ... I'm here now."

Now, nearly a year after Hawley wrote her "I Saw You," she and Hamlin sit side-by-side on her plush leather couch with her two dachshunds by their sides. They listen to classic rock and watch comically bad B horror movies and miss each other when they're apart. Their relationship, they say, is about acceptance and simplicity. Before he moved to Spokane Valley, where he lives now, and before he saw Hawley's ad, Hamlin was once homeless and living on the streets of downtown Spokane. But with her, he says, the past doesn't matter.

"I have been waiting for her my whole life," Hamlin wrote the Inlander when he heard we were looking for I Saw You stories. "Maybe that sounds kind of stupid. Or cliché. But it's not. I was about to give up ever finding someone. At least someone who would love me for me. Not for my job, or money, or cars or any of that."

The two say they click so well because they accept each other's imperfections and they're straightforward about how they're feeling. It helps, too, that they make each other laugh.

"Other people are so damn serious, especially at our age," Hawley says. "Finding someone at our age that acts like we do —"

"Yeah, that's not too common," Hamlin finishes. ♦