Saturday, November 13, 2010

The one for me, times three.

When people find out you're engaged, it's pretty common for them to ask you "when you knew," that is, at what exact moment you discovered/decided/realized that he was the one you want to marry.  We've been engaged for over 12 months now, and I've received this question more than a handful of times.  Early in our engagement, I was a little bummed that I didn't have one specific moment.  I mean, we've been dating or engaged for over 8 years now!  Condensing all of that down into one perspective-changing moment seems to cheapen all of the days we've committed to this relationship.  However, I wasn't happy with my lack of an answer to these inquisitive acquaintances, so I thought back on our relationship, and I came up with three key moments.  I don't know if I would say that "I knew" at each of these moments, but they were definite game-changers, for sure. 

Moment 1: November 2007; we were sophomores in high school.  My dad suffered some sort of "episode," for lack of a better term.  We never really figured out what caused it, but the short version is that he turned gray, passed out, and spent the next 24 hours in the hospital.  Everything turned out to be fine, and he's been in good health ever since, but the handful of hours between when we left the restaurant and when my mom called to say everything was OK were some of the hardest of my young adult life.  The silver lining?  Mr. Snow Cone responded perfectly to the entire situation.  He was practically out the door, on his way to my house, before I could even finish the story of what had happened.  He gave me just the right blend of support and space, letting me cope on my own terms, my own time.  Even though I was only 16 years old, I still remember that, at that moment, I realized that this was not some average high school boyfriend nor some average high school relationship; it was something more.

Personal photo of us during our sophomore winter formal, 2 months after moment 1.

Moment 2: August 2006; we were fresh high school graduates, preparing to go our separate ways for college. And by "separate ways," I mean 400 miles away from one another.  Obviously part of me was super excited to move on to big, bad college life, but an even bigger part of me was supremely comfortable with the little life I had built and was not interested in rocking the boat.  Let's just say I spent about 12 of my last 14 hours in Pennsylvania sobbing hysterically (The two that weren't spent sobbing were spent sleeping.  Trust me, if there was a way to sleep and sob simultaneously, I would have been alllll over it that night).  Once again, it was like Mr. Snow Cone took a class called "How to Be an Awesome Boyfriend 101".  The part I remember most clearly is that right before I got in the car to head out, he hugged me and handed me a thick envelope, telling me to open it in a few hours into the drive.  I expected a super-long, tear-inducing letter about how much he loved and missed me.  Well, it was a super long, tear-inducing letter... but instead of talking about how much he loved me, he included page after page after page of jokes, knowing I would need a laugh, making me cry tears of laughter instead of heartache.  The basic message behind the letter was that there was no need to have a big, dramatic, final good-bye, since we weren't parting ways forever, just temporarily.  Whattaguy.

Personal photo of us at our HS graduation, about 2 months before moment 2.

Moment 3: Fall 2008; juniors in college.  I studied abroad in Spain for a semester, which had always been on my college bucket list.  But as the trip came closer and I was actually packing up, I was less than enthused about my decision.  I didn't want to leave my friends, Notre Dame, my family, and most importantly, Mr. Snow Cone, for three-plus months.  He had no patience for that nonsense.  During my last few weeks in the States, he shot down all of my concerns and anxieties, telling me how much fun I would have on this incredible experience.  He also sacrificed a great amount in order to come with my parents and younger brothers to visit me in Spain over Thanksgiving.  I can still picture him jogging toward me when he got off the train in Toledo, the biggest grin on his face.  Jet lag be damned, we were seeing each other for the first time in three months! Anyone who is selfless enough to support a plan that results in great hardship and inconvenience for himself because he knows how important it is to his girlfriend is someone I want in my life.

Personal photo of us in Spain, during moment 3.

So maybe I didn't have one moment.  But I think that's OK.  I'd rather have a slow but steady evolution of the relationship than a one-and-done "boom! he's the one" sort of experience. 

Did you have a series of moments leading up to you knowing he's the one?  Or, on the flip side, do you have a story of  a singular moment that set it all off?

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