There once was this girl. She grew up in Upstate New York. In the country. On a small family farm. 30 minutes from everything “big”. But if they weren’t the next house down; she was only 10 minutes from everything and everybody that meant the most to her. Growing up she had many dreams. To own a horse. To see a unicorn. To just HOPE that magic 8 ball was telling the truth. A Veterinarian at Cornell University. A dancer for Janet Jackson or Madonna. A Marketing & Advertising guru running the streets of New York City, working for Nike. Pounding the pavement in her black high heel stilettos and her business suit. A little later in life she dreamed of being an Athletic Trainer. Or working for a Sports Medicine practice. She also dreamed many, many dreams of moving to Boston. Becoming a New Englander and visiting the farmers markets and bakeries on the way home from work. Riding the “T” to Red Sox games. Celtics games. Weekends on the Cape. Weekends in Gloucester with some of her family. She was independent. She liked road trips. Sometimes with friends. Sometimes with boyfriends. Sometimes by herself. When her friends began moving away she said, “Hey. Maybe this is something I would like to do.” So she packed up and moved to the suburbs of Detroit. Mostly to be close to two of those very best friends from her hometown. But also to find out who she was. If she could “do it”. Her parents were hesitant. She was sad to leave. But she went. She lived and made mistakes and got scared when tornado sirens would scream. Then a big thing called September 11th happened. She realized she didn’t want to live so far away. She missed her family. She missed her home. So then in December 2001 she packed up. She said goodbye to Michigan.
Five years later; the year 2006. This girl decided with a few close friends that she would again…move from Upstate New York. They wanted to leave the two seasons: Winters that last approximately 18,090,675,367 years. And 3 months of summer and “construction”. This was the perfect time. Nothing to hold them back. She told her parents. They were once again hesitant but supportive. Then she packed up and moved. To Wilmington, North Carolina. She lived on the beach. She swam in the ocean. She lived simply, but lived full. She met so many new friends. They would go out for dinner and stay out for drinks. They would make any excuse to find the sand. And the ocean water. And Roberts Grocery.
Then in 2009 she met this boy. A mutual friend introduced them. He was quiet. It took months before she would strike up a conversation with him. She would never tell that she admired him before they even spoke. She gave him her number; he called her later that day. They both liked football. They met at a popular sports restaurant and he didn’t pick on her when he realized she was a Buffalo Bills fan. *sarcasm – he totally did.* He also didn’t say “They still have a team?!”. They watched sports the rest of the night. She found out that he moved to Wilmington the same year she did. He was a North Carolina native. He grew up in a very small town. He lived very close to his relatives. He played sports. He had the same values. He was funny. She could look at him for forever. And one night after a few months of dating, she said to him, “Please don’t ever let me go back out ‘there’.” So he didn’t.
But then one day it became very real. He was only 25 years old. She was 32. Marriage! Babies! Life! Over many tears, he decided to call it quits. She wouldn’t believe it. She knew at the bottom of every person she dated, every place she lived, every part of all of her experiences; he was hers. They all brought her to him. Every fiber of every word they were speaking felt wronger than wrong. She told him this. He said “I have to”. So she tried to move on. She went to work. She talked with her girlfriends. She tried to make sense of it. She started running again. She watched Friends reruns. She went to the beach by herself. She cried every night. She missed him. This was not their ending.
She did the things she needed to. Sometimes she failed; she would be weak. But she was still silently fighting for THEM. every.single.day.
Then the night came when they saw each other again. He missed her. She missed him. They kissed and they both felt it. They might be 7 years different, but they were also the same. They were supposed to be together.
That was definitely NOT their ending.
And so they collectively decided that they would move once more. Richmond, Virginia was calling their name. A job and a new start. A new life. A new beginning in another chapter. They lived in the city. They lived near the capital building. They loved the restaurants. They loved walking everywhere. Pounding the pavement. Sometimes in her black high heel stilettos. And then they decided it was time to purchase something bigger. A house? Yes. They looked and they were excited and they couldn’t get new homes out of their heads. Gorgeous homes. Trash homes. Fixer upper homes. Close to the city. In the city. In the suburbs. In the country. They decided on the fixer. Close to the city. Good bones. Good structure. So much potential. Just like it’s new owners.
Between the new city and the new house and a boy who she loved very, very much; she grew up. Not in a maturity way, but in a way that she realized she didn’t need New York City or Boston or Nike or Janet Jackson. She didn’t need the social ladder spectrum. She didn’t need to win the approval of strangers. She became a person she is proud of. She was in love with a man who loved her back, and had her back, no matter how terrible she treated him some days. She realized she could be all sides of the spectrum of happy and content and silly and also sometimes madly annoyed by the way he never hears her talking to him. Or dumping the coffee grounds out in the sink, but not washing them completely down the drain. Or knowing that he gets wildly annoyed when she takes forever to get ready because nothing will fit right. Or how she can’t get right out of the car when they park. “Why don’t you do that while we’re driving?!?”, he’d say. Or how she gets anxious going to new places; so when they walk in, he really does open the door for her, but she never wants to walk in first. But she wants him to know that she’s trying. And she knows that he is too.
So one day, almost five years into their journey he asks if she would like to go for a run. Something they have done together a lot over the last two years. She said she would, and they went. At a spot called Pony Pasture on the James River, where they usually make the turn around to head home, he lead her to a place where they could be alone. They sat for awhile. She was surprised by this. She could stay at the river for hours and have all she needed. He wasn’t as able to sit and be still for long. When she thought they had been there long enough for him to be more than comfortable with, she asked if he wanted to leave. She began to wonder what was happening when he said he needed to stay …just a little while longer. And then, stumbling over the small rocks, he knelt down and began to tell her how much she meant to him and how she was his best friend and how he wanted her to be in his life for the rest of their lives.
She said “For real?!”…twice.
Then she said “Yes.”
And “Holy Cow” and she laughed and then she hugged him and she cried.
And she finally looked at the ring.
And she knew it was actually just the beginning.
And then they got home and he told her he bets she’ll die before him.
7 year age difference and all.