The moment

I don’t have a specific answer for the exact moment I knew. Love stories rarely do. It’s more of a compilation of small moments that roll in your head like an old movie one day, and then you know. And oh, are they sweet memories. Since I’m all caught up in being thankful that God sent me such a loving man, I thought I’d share a few of these moments (but honestly,I’m keeping some of the best to myself). Joel and I are fairly private people, so these are stories that very few people have heard. But if one day my grandchildren are visiting me and want to know our story, I’d like to tell them myself. But if that isn’t possible, I guess my writings are the next best thing.

I’ve known for twelve years that there was one very special little girl that would have to approve of my future husband. My parents of course would have their say in the matter, but Mac would have a very influential part as well. It became very apparent to me several years ago that I was setting an example for her, and I better set a good one. Even though I’d known him my entire life, I didn’t introduce Joel to Mac until my sophomore year in college. He’d heard all my stories, seen pictures and watched me spend every dime that I could spoiling her. And when I finally introduced him to her, that’s when I knew. You expect your S.O. to pay attention to your family, get along, find mutual topics of interest to talk about. But it’s much different when the stakes are higher, and little eyes are watching. But Joel understood my investment in Mac, and he took that seriously. And he didn’t stop with his relationship with Mac. He took the stakes and planted my entire family within them. When Mac would cuddle up on the couch with me, he’d let Anna Lois curl up with him. He’d joke with Hannah about Disney movies, and be a boy with Cam. He’d teach Matt all the computer things and truly invested in the little eyes around me. He loved and still loves them. The girls have always ran and jumped to hug me when I arrive, but when they started running for him too, that’ll make the Grinch’s heart grow 20 sizes.

When I was staying visiting my grandmother on Wednesdays during my freshman and sophomore years, Joel would come with me, even if he was just sitting on the couch watching my grandfather catch a few minutes of sleep. Sometimes, he’d sit back there with me while we heehawed over Big Bang Theory or I Love Lucy re-runs or chatted about some memories. He would politely excuse himself when we needed to care for her, and one time, he left the room to go get Poppy for medicine or something, and she looked at me and asked if it was serious. I smiled and said yes. And she smiled back. Poppy came back a few minutes later, we took care of her and her medical needs. She looked as he was walking out and said, “I found a good one when I married him.” She joked and said he meant it when he said in sickness and in health (but he really did). We had a good laugh, but I’ve replayed those moments in my head a million times since her death. I think we rarely realize how much of an impact some moments are until after they happen.  I am grateful Joel got to meet her, and she him. My heart breaks when I remember that there will be an empty seat at my wedding, but wow am I grateful for that moment.

giphy (9).gifI’ve never been the type of girl to need a boyfriend. And even when I had one, it seemed more like a close friendship. It takes a while to break down the emotional walls that people like me put up. While Joel and I were separated, I made friends that have made more of an impact on my life in the year they’ve been around than some people have made in 22 years. When we got back together, my friends were skeptical. They’d seen the heartbreak and knew the story. After we’d been back together for a few months, I visited the girls, and we went out and about the city. We were laughing and having the best time of our life, and I didn’t wish Joel was there with us (he’d kill the girl vibe), but I wished he could’ve seen us and me in that moment. We were so happy and having so much fun just being us, and I loved it.

There are numerous other moments where I knew Joel would be the man I’d marry, but some of my favorites are the moments we share on a daily basis. He vacuums the carpet in the same direction on days that he knows I’m going to be anxious. He’ll make me coffee in my Kate Spade mug so that I have a cup for class or where ever I’m heading. He dances me around the living room when songs come of Spotify to see if that’s going to be our first dance (we haven’t found it yet, but honestly I hope we don’t find it until after the wedding. This is too much fun!)

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This whole story that’s probably making all the single ladies sick is: there is no one way to happiness. I can write a book about how to marry your childhood/high school/college sweetheart, but likely that’s only going to help me remember how our story rolled out. It’s not going to help the next 3 and 5-year-old that come along growing up side by side. Every single story is unique and made up of so many little moments that it’s hard to explain or even share in a small conversation. Someone may learn from one part of our story, but it’s not a road map. And even if it were, we’re only a few miles in and we don’t know how to read it anyways. #Millennials

What’s funny to me is every love story or fairy tale we heard as children stopped at the wedding. How messed up is that? I’m hoping that’s when the story gets good! I know our story has only had more adventure and fun (and honestly some scary big decisions) since the engagement, I can only imagine after we’re married.

giphy (7).gifSome of my girl friends have started a book club. We read some serious how-to- get your life together books and some celebrity humor books. One we’re reading right now is a relationship book. I jokingly sent Joel a clip of it last week where it said to remember that through all the bad dates, fights and break ups, whoever gets to lock you down is [expletive] incredibly lucky and all the crap you’ve been through to find each other will be worth it. “There is no one out there like you and you are amazing. So even if you have days/weeks/months where you’re feeling discouraged or lonely, make like Dory from that movie where she has Alzheimer’s and just keep swimming.” I sent it jokingly, and he replied “I’m pretty sure that road goes both ways.”

So that’s what I’m talking about people. That’s what this whole rant about love stories and moments is about. Your story won’t be the same as mine. And I hope you think that yours is better. I hope you love yours 100 times better than mine. And it’s OK to favor your own love story (hell, I think you should favor your own!). I’m watching so many of my friends get married or fall in love, and each story is filled with different love and different heart aches, but that doesn’t make one better than another. I’ve cried at so many wedding videos, but that doesn’t mean I want mine to be identical. I love my wedding dress a lot more than the ones all my friends have worn, but the dress they wore was unique and beautiful on them. It’s literally made to mold their body and its perfect. Mine will be perfect on me, just like my relationship and our story is perfect for me.

So, there was not single moment. But there were a whole lot of moments. And I hope there are so many more that I can’t even begin to remember them all.

Permission to Make a Decision for Yourself

I think those four years of college are some of the most exciting and most confusing years of a young person’s life. I think the major part that I struggled with was determining what decisions were mine to make and what decisions I should consult my parents, advisers or mentors for. I remember multiple times calling and asking my mom about something and her answer was legitimately, you’re an adult, you don’t  need my permission. Wow. To not need someone’s OK to do something… weird. It’s still weird for me.

I’ve been wanting a dog for myself since I moved to college. I desperately missed my pup Chipper and the comfort a dog provides when you’re at your very worst. I did all the research. I found multiple breeds that wouldn’t bother my allergies and that were fit to live in an apartment. I’m a research-based person – very much like my dad, for better or worse. Research is part of my job, and I love it. Finding and determining the perfect fit or finding the spot that needs to be fixed… it’s a rush. But there are some things research can’t determine.

So I asked my fiance. I asked him over and over to the point that he too wanted a dog. So then I asked my mom. And she again said she couldn’t make the decision for me, but if she were me, she would wait.

But there are some things that mentors, advisers and parents can not advise.

And that’s where our “gut” comes in: what feels inherently right to us?

And we have to trust that is the right thing. We have to believe that beyond research and beyond advise that we will truly know what is right for us.

And that’s where I was. I think that sometimes stubbornness gets the blame when our gut should get the credit.

I think that is why I struggle so much when someone tries to tell me what I will or won’t like. When someone takes away my ability to decide for myself, to allow my body to decide for itself. I think there is something about the rush of a moment, and I think too often we allow someone else to take that moment away from us because it’s not what they think we’ll want or like.

I am the only person that knows my brain and my body. My doctor knows the way I react to certain medications. My mom knows the way I react when I’m hungry. My dad knows the way I react to his constant badgering. My fiance knows the way I react when he pokes me in the side. But I am the only one that knows the way my brain reacts and the way my body feels when something is or is not right for me.

Sometimes, we have to trust that we know ourselves better than anyone else. And sometimes we have to ditch the research, go against the advice of everyone else, and do what feels right for us.

I was so adamant about getting to New York because everyone told me I would hate it. Those decisions are decisions only I can make. Others can assume, they can try to think for me and you, but those are decisions only I can make for myself. We get so used to people asking for advice that sometimes we project it on them without them asking. That’s when things get messy. We assume that they want and need our advice. We assume that they want all the research and knowledge they can get.

But too much research and too much knowledge can be a bad thing…

And sometimes we need to learn when it is time to just shut up. To learn the time when our opinions, our advice and our research is unwarranted. When it’s a personal matter, and we are not included. When we don’t fully know the situation. When we can’t fully know the situation. Despite how we think we can help, we need to learn when our friends are no longer children, and when it is time to say you don’t need my permission; you don’t need my advice. 

Sometimes, we just need to say whatever is right for you is the right thing to do… even if we don’t agree. Because puppies are right for some people. New York is right for others. And some people just need to make a decision for themselves free from the burden of our opinions.

New Relationship Status:

I’ve had a lot of friends ask since Joel proposed how did I know.  I’ve known Joel my entire life, so there are a lot of shared secrets and personal moments that have tied our lives together. Many of which include many of our mutual friends. But what these friends really mean in this question is how did you know, despite everything you’ve been through, that he was the one. Because the people asking aren’t the ones that have been active around our relationship for the past 6 years. Because the people really close that saw, they knew.

But this post isn’t going to tell you when I knew I’d marry Joel. This post is rather a giant disclaimer that everything you see on my Facebook is a lie. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but still partially true. We live in this digital world where everything looks perfect, and we don’t really know each other anymore. We see updates on Facebook and Instagram and maybe a blog post or two, but unless you spend extracurricular time with a couple, you don’t really see the inter-workings behind their relationship anymore.

So, I’m just being honest and upfront about this on my blog, because I don’t want you to read anything on my blog and think that I have this perfect life or relationship that is some fairy tale. I can’t live up to those expectations, our relationship can’t live up to those expectations. Our relationship is flawed in many ways, but we love each other. And through the many events – fortunate and unfortunate – that we have been through since our first date back in 2010, we still have decided to take on the daunting task of cohabitation for life.

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Note: This is not how I feel about living with a boy. This is how I feel about living with anyone.

I’d like to point out that our story did not come without bumps, curves or straight up do not enter caution tape. We all like to refer to relationships as “roller coasters” but we forget that roller coasters take months to design and build. Then they go through a series of tests to ensure it is built to proper safety codes and what not. Then, once riders are allowed on the roller coaster, it is not without its faults.

Sometimes it rides seamlessly and is full of fun and adventure.

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 Sometimes it stops right on its tracks then keeps moving.

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 Sometimes you have to stay on the ride even though your seat belt isn’t working because its going full speed.

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And, sometimes the riders even have to get off for it to be repaired.

Honestly, roller coasters aren’t the best metaphor for relationships, but I’m not that great at coming up with metaphors. So this is what I’ll tell you about what I know thus far:

Relationships come with disagreements. They come with laughter, fun, adventure, and occasionally knock-down, drag-out fights. And mine and Joel’s relationship is not an exception to any of those conditions. There are things about Joel that make me absolutely crazy, and if you stick around long enough at the wedding or reception, you’ll probably see me roll my eyes at him once or twice. But the thing is, if Joel was some perfect guy, he wouldn’t be perfect for me because I’m not perfect. But we’ve chosen to somehow find our way imperfectly through this world together and neither of us know how to read a map. We’re going to get things wrong, and you may or may not hear about it. But sometimes, we’ll get things right too.

My point is, we didn’t get here by having a perfect relationship all the time. He keeps fresh flowers on my desk now, but I can tell you that was not the case back in 2010. We’ve grown up a lot in the past 6 years. Thankfully, he’s matured slightly since these days:giphy (4).gif

I’m confident that we’ll make it past the 72 day marriage expectation that Kim K has set for our generation. So, at the 72 day mark, we will celebrate because we’ll be more successful than Kim Kardashian.

But whether our marriage rolls out on national television (#dream) or in the privacy of our new two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta that I get to decorate before he moves in (#winning), I can tell you one thing: it won’t be perfect, but we’re gonna love each other through it all.

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