There were a lot of factors that made starting a relationship complicated: I had recently ended a relationship that had been harmful to me. Brendan and I were in school together and only had a few months left until graduation, after which, neither of us had any idea where we would be. We both had a thesis to finish. We both had mutual friends we cared about and didn't want to make things awkward for. Mostly, having been good friends for two years, we were both protective of ourselves and each other, and neither of us wanted to be hurt or hurt the other. All of this weighed on us, but we also knew we had real feelings for each other that had been developing for a long time. Since we had been friends for so long, we knew each other pretty intimately, not just the facts of each other's lives, but who the other person was, what each of us wanted and thought was important. We talked easily and for hours; we had fun together; obviously, we were both attracted to each other. The past months, I had been focusing on myself, and Brendan had been a great friend to me as always. One day I told my mom on the phone that I felt like I would regret it forever if I didn't tell him what he meant to me.
October 12th was a beautiful day in Lake Charles, and Brendan and I both had Tuesday's off that semester. We had taken to walking together on Tuesdays. We would go all over town, around my neighborhood, to the park where there was a playground; we jumped fences (or Brendan did, and I sort of gracefully fell on him), found places to explore, bought snacks and ate on the curb. Tuesdays had easily become my favorite day of the week. The week before, Brendan had taken my hand. A gesture of friendship, or something more, I didn't know, but it gave me courage that next week. It's funny how much it took for me to tell him how I felt, but a year later, I can honestly say, it's my favorite thing I ever did.
So we kissed. Without knowing where it would lead, with no guarantees that things would work out. We both took that risk of trusting the other person. It isn't an easy thing to do. I was scared, but also so happy. I knew how I wanted things to work out, but I could only hope that Brendan wanted the same things.
We took things slowly. We tried not to make it obvious to our friends, as we tried to figure out what our relationship meant. I kept focused on myself, school, and teaching. I knew we owed it to each other to not rush things, and even though I was crazy about him, I knew that caution was practical and healthy. I have some really good memories of that first month. Our friends, once they found out, were very supportive. My mom, who I should add had met and loved Brendan, suggested he join us for our Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas. Brendan worried maybe it was too soon for all that, but he eventually agreed to come. I remember knowing it would be fine. I just had a feeling my family would get along great with him. I was right. The week long trip was perfect, we all had fun together, and everyone thought Brendan was as special as I did.
We had to start applying to jobs soon, so of course the conversation about the future came up. We decided we would go wherever was next together. It seemed like the most natural decision. We loved each other, and we were willing to make sacrifices to be together. Still, I think we both felt immense relief having said that out loud.
That December, I went to Connecticut to meet Brendan's family. Of course I was nervous, but they embraced me with so much love and kindness. I felt so at home and relaxed with them, that it was easy to be myself. I could see that like me, Brendan had a wonderful support system. We have a lot of things in common: we're both close to our parents and have younger siblings that we are protective of and crazy about. We both have big extended families that we stay close to. Our families are both fun and active, the dynamics feel pretty similar. In other words, both our families play Yahtzee, enough said.
This spring and summer brought major changes in our lives. We both finished our theses and graduated from McNeese. Our families came to celebrate and met for the first time, and it was so wonderful to watch them interact with each other. With Brendan's encouragement to submit my work, I nabbed my first publication, and we both went through grueling months of the job search process. We spent hours a day searching for jobs, writing cover letters, and venturing to the library to print and the post office to mail things. In June, we put all our stuff in a storage unit and moved in with my parents. Brendan joked that now I was stuck with him; we hadn't exactly labeled our boxes well, so breaking up, he said, would be impossible. All the changes in our lives were stressful, but having such a strong friendship and relationship made it all easier to deal with.
Finally, in mid July, Brendan got a job offer, and luckily, the college offered me courses to teach as well. It was a little hard turning down interviews for full time positions and adjusting my expectations about what job I'd have after grad school, but I worked through all those feelings. I knew Midland was the best two person offer we would get, and I knew I wanted to be with Brendan, that that was the most important thing to me. My family fully supported my decision to move with him, which made it easier too.
We found a place and moved in in mid-August. I love living with my best friend, and I can honestly say, I've never been so happy. Like all couples, we have to work to communicate with each other and compromise about our differences, but we love each other and hold each other up. Brendan sees the best in me, and he makes me strive to be a better person. I always consider him, and now, I know what it feels like to be considered to. We have an equality and balance in our relationship, and I realize it's the first adult relationship I've ever been in. And some things never change. I still can talk to Brendan for hours, he's still the first person I talk to if I have a problem, he's my best reader, I have the most fun with him, and I still think he is the most handsome man ever. I learn from him everyday, and I continue to admire his genuine nature, his intelligence, and his caring spirit. Even now, when we've been apart for a few hours, I am filled with happiness when I see him, and everyday, I'm thankful that we're here together.
I've learned so much in the past year about myself, Brendan, and our relationship. The most important thing I've learned is that relationships aren't easy-it takes two people, taking risks, making sacrifices, and working together everyday to make a life-but if you're with the right person, everything you put into that relationship pays you off in a way that is so incredible and worth it. Relationships take work, but loving the right person is easy. I'm thankful for our friends and family that have not only supported us through everything, but made us fundamentally who we are. And Bren, I'm thankful for you. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and you have made my life so magical. Thank you for taking my hand, for giving me courage, and for kissing me back. I love you.
|Even when we were friends, it was always a challenge to get him to take a picture! Circa March 2009|
|Friends-on vacation in Tybee Island, GA, May 2010.|
|In Las Vegas with my family, a few months after we started dating. November 2010.|
|Our first Thanksgiving-with my brother here.|
|X-mas party at Will & Missy's. December 2010.|
|In Connecticut, December 2010|
|Skiing in MA, December 2010|
|First wedding together, Peggy and Eric, March 2011, Chicago, IL.|
|At our first music festival together with Will & Missy, April 2011.|
|Us with our families, (this isn't even all our family), May 2011.|
|Graduation, May 2011.|
|Beach Trip, May 2011.|
|Trip to Maine with Brendan's family, August 2011|
|Annie (Brendan's sister) and I in Maine.|
|Living with my parents-Summer 2011.|
|Moving, August 2011|
|Brendan in front of our new place.|
|hiking, October 2011.|