To the First Twelve Months
You pull in the parking lot, send a text “I’m here”, look around aimlessly to get a quick glimpse of them standing outside or wondering which car they will come out of. Bing, a message appears on your phone “I’m here too where are you?”. Ok, you’re about to do this, you look for probably the hundredth time in the mirror, hair good, nothing in your teeth and you take that last deep breath before you get out of the car.
Now raise your hand if you have done this before, psych yourself out before meeting new people. I’m sure you could recall at least one experience. The build-up to meeting someone for the first time and putting yourself out there can be scary, our minds seem to wander all around before we get out of the car and start this new introduction. We tend to fill our minds with the noise about the what if’s, the how’s and the why’s, that we lose focus of being in the moment and allowing ourselves to be happy.
It was a couple of weeks before I decided to go out with James, for the simple reason of the noise. Now I’ve known James since I was a teenager, from seeing him in the hallway at school or when he would come to his sister’s recitals at our dance school. So, anyone would think this would be a walk in the park, why to get nervous, you know this person but the “butterflies in my stomach” were going so fast they could have probably carried me off on their wings. He started to get out of his car and I grabbed my purse, looked in the mirror one last time and took a deep breath.
About that night, I couldn’t tell you what we ate, or what I wore, how long we stayed, but I’ll never forget our conversation and how comfortable I felt. At first, I’m a bit shy and have a guard up, which may take a little while to let it down and let someone in. Yet, that night sitting in the booth I found my old friend, a person whose soul I had met before.
When starting a relationship, the beginning seems to always be the same, filled with dates, long talks and basically any way to spend time with one another. It’s a chance to get to learn this new person in your life and to explore their interests. Our first couple of months were much different from what most couples journeys start as. About three weeks into our relationship, my work life brought me to Miami for 5 weeks to open a new venture. Now, I can only imagine what you’re thinking, “I wish I can be in Miami for 5 weeks, you’re so lucky”. In most scenarios, I would be saying the same thing and be excited about the journey I was embarking on. Yet, I was a little worried about how he would react to me getting on a plane and heading down to sunny, exotic Miami. Would he be upset and feel abandoned or would worse would he not trust me? All it took was one conversation, an understanding man and putting my fears at ease. During those 5 weeks, there were life events that we had to endure away from each other, but we both put in the effort to be a support system as much as possible. We both knew that no matter what, no matter how many miles stood between us, that we had always had one another. I’m grateful for that experience, not only for my career and the memories, but it ultimately set the foundation for a strong relationship.
“All my bags are packed. I’m ready to go.” is what played on repeat as I boarded the plane back home. One adventure was coming to an end as I was about to embark on another, my relationship. There is only so much you can learn about someone through limited phone calls, text messages, and some facetimes. Having that face to face interaction is what truly builds any relationship, whether it is a friendship or romantic relationship. You slowly begin to learn their mannerisms and small quirks to the point where you may even find yourself mimicking some of them. Such as some of his silly sayings, the way he drums on the steering wheel when we are in the car or his contagious loud laugh. Even though during this period in our relationship, we start to know to know one another and learn, you don’t learn everything about someone in one month or one year for that. We still continue learning new things about each other every day. I truly believe that even if you’ve known someone for years the learning never stops because we as change every day. Our habits, the way we live, what we do and don’t like and even career changes, they may occur over the course of time. Just remember that the key to learning is to actively listen, put in the work and have patience.
One of the most attractive things about James is his “seize the day” attitude and living life not defined by fear. I tend to think things out to the fullest before I do anything, weighing out each scenario. While that is beneficial in some situations, I found that fear has dictated most of my life events. James has taught me and to not let fear have me miss out on any opportunity. July was one of the first months where I started to push the fear aside and just go with the flow. This led to us getting caught in a rainstorm on a mountain hike, trying some of the craziest food and setting off a firework spectacular to ring in the start of the July celebrations. After we rang in the 4th of July in style, it was time to plan someone special’s birthday. This year’s birthday celebration wasn’t just any birthday it was his big 3-0 and I was going to make it extraordinary! What better way to bring in your 30th year on this planet than to have 30 presents, one for each year.
Celebrations don’t just occur on birthdays or holidays, it’s the everyday achievements that turn into celebrations. It’s important to rejoice each other’s accomplishments as they are the building blocks of your ultimate dreams. We have a tradition that was started on our first date and that is to always toast to the everyday achievements and celebrations.
While sitting at a local diner, he took a bite into his omelet as I enthusiastically discussed taking a trip to Arizona. I painted the pictures of the picturesque red stone mountains, the evergreen trees, and rolling desserts. He entertained my excitement and said “we’ll see” and continued to finish his breakfast. A couple of days later he says “book it” and without hesitation, I grab my laptop and research began. This was going to be our first of many jam-packed vacations and we had plans to travel the entire state from top to bottom in 4 days! So, we got on the plane, landed in hot Arizona and started our first journey. We drove to the north most point of the state, Page and boated through the canyons at Lake Powell and took hundreds of selfies at the breathtaking Horseshoe Bend. Afterward, we headed to the monumental visit of our vacation which I’m sure you guessed it, The Grand Canyon! To bring our trip to an end, we ventured down to the Wild Wild West, Tombstone and played around with the spirits of the past. As I write this, I realize that though this was technically our first adventure, we have had about a hundred already. Whether it was getting caught in a rainstorm, getting lost on back roads or strolling along the freedom trail in Boston. As cliché as it sounds, every day has been an adventure with James and I’m looking forward to many more.
There are significant moments in a relationship, your first date, the first time you kiss and when you say those three little words. How do you know when you love someone? How do you know the right time to tell someone you love them? Love doesn’t have rules or guidelines, it can’t be forced or bought, it just happens. Maybe it’s on a random Saturday night when all your friends are over, and he grabs your hands in the kitchen, looks you deep in the eye and says he has something important to tell you. Just like that, it’s out in the world, right there, exposed and your heart stops for a second and your souls imprint on one another. It wasn’t this big glamorous, movie scene like on the top of a mountain with the spin around camera as you kiss, on a horse sleigh ride in the falling snow or in front of a fire on a rainy Sunday with the cheesy music playing in the background. It was just a moment in time, in front of a fridge and it was better than anything a big Hollywood producer could draw up because it was real and pure.
October brought a work obligation that would keep me occupied for another 5 weeks. This time, however, I didn’t have to get on a plane and live out of a hotel. Yet, with the benefit of staying in the comfort of my home, it came with different complications and challenges. The hours seemed longer, with commuting both ways and I really only saw James when he would leave for work in the morning. Life and work became a juggling act that I’ve never had to deal with before. I wasn’t the only one who was playing the juggling act, James was working on two developments at the same time and battling extreme weather conditions. We were both drained at the end of the day that it caused problems with our communication. A relationship of any kind usually dies without communication, as each person in the relationship sees things differently and without discussing how they feel or sharing, things get unsaid and the fuel of the relationship fizzles out. We made adjustments and compromises, so our relationship didn’t suffer. Most couples perform the juggling act between work and life, and furthermore, the ones who are the happiest are partners who work together on their relationship. They talk things through and propose how they each can make small tweaks to the everyday habits to support long-term growth.
Life goes by so fast with days turning into weeks which turn into months and before you know it a year has passed. Every morning we are blessed to wake up and live our lives any way we want. All at the same time, the daily motions occur and we forget to stop and appreciate the things and the people we have in our lives. People that mean the most to us, we can put on the back burner and only talk to them when we see that it fits into our schedule. Thankfulness, a word that seems to get forgotten in this crazy world we call life. Sometimes we are looking for something better or complaining about the things we don’t have. To make a change, I thought I would share what I’m thankful for with James.
Patience, how does that fit into a relationship? It’s one of the vital parts of a relationship as it teaches you to control and respect one another. None of us are perfect and may have lost our self-control many times. We might bring in other underlying factors such as work or personal issues which can hinder our tolerance. It’s a skill that takes time, work and an overall understanding of why our composure is lost. With James and I both having high-stress jobs our patience sometimes weighs thin and frustrated occurs. Yet, over time you learn how to deal and start to look at likely events. For example, you made dinner and planned it for 7 pm cause you know that’s when they’ll be arriving home. It’s 7:30 pm, dinner is cold and you haven’t heard from them. Now you could have a screaming match with dinner ending going in the trash and maybe someone driving off in anger, or you could handle it differently. Truthfully, I’m not always the best at being patient and can easily get rattled when things change. I’ve learned from this relationship that things change and plans may fall apart, but it’s how we react to the situations that define us, and that’s where patience comes in to play.
Every strong and healthy relationship takes work from both sides and it allows you to grow as a couple and sometimes as people. The beginning of the year did just that for both of us, as we both learned different things about ourselves. After deep soul-searching and reflection, I came about that this everyday life wasn’t working for me. Can you relate, when you find yourself years deep in repeating the same thing every day? I felt like I wasn’t living for myself and was living out someone else’s life. So, I took a deep breath and asked myself if I could do anything what would I do and my blog was born. When I started talking to James, he would ask me what I want to do in life, what are my dreams and most times I would brush him off. I was so comfortable and trapped in the way I was living my life, I couldn’t possibly think of a different future. Throughout this past year, James continues to push me to my greatness and has helped me plant my new life “seeds” and grow them into a beautiful garden. You’re bound to grow in a relationship as it is a living thing that requires nourishment, love, and support. To have him by my side through these life changes has been one of the best gifts.
Sometimes, a couple may find that the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship begins to change and the next stage emerges some call, the closeness phase. You recognize this state, where you don’t mind if he sees you with no makeup, bags under your eyes and hair up in a bun. When we first met, James and I had a genuine bond because of similar events that occurred throughout our lives. We felt that we could open up and speak freely about our views and experiences to one another. Being close doesn’t happen overnight, many elements come into play, for instants, trust, communication, respect, and growth. (Hmm, where have we heard those qualities before? )A strong connection in a relationship, first, you have to trust that you could speak openly and not feel judged. With that, comes working on having clear communication and acceptance of the information being disclosed. Which intends us to actively listen to one another and speak, openly and genuinely. Next is, respect for the other person and valuing each other’s opinions and feelings. One of the last qualities that affect the connection is the growth in your relationship as well as your own personal growth. Our understanding of each other isn’t based on the amount of time we are together or our similar stories, it’s deeper. It took participation and support from both of us to reach the characteristics noted above.
It was 8 am on a Friday morning that I got the news, we had lost a significant family member, my great-grandfather. A man who was my father figure when mine couldn’t be, a WWII Marine Veteran and who made the best peanut butter cookies in the world. I hadn’t felt that kind of a heart-wrenching pain in a long time and most days I was in a fog and wanted to escape from the world. When someone is in need and hurting, it’s at these times where the true colors of the people around you come out. James was one of my biggest support systems during this time. He was someone I could talk to, lean on when I felt weak and helped cheer me up when I was sad. Him letting me just reminisce for hours and hours about the memories I had with my great-grandfather allowed me to heal. The definition of support is to hold up a structure and this exactly what we have in our relationship. No matter what I do in life, I know that he has my back and is my biggest motivator with his daily words of encouragement. It’s the greatest feeling that when life does bring the unexpected change or the small diversion from my life path, I have the support of my friends, family and him.
This past year has been a whirlwind, bringing new experiences and has taught me a lot about myself and what I want in life. I’m blessed and thankful to have been able to share some of my greatest moments with this man and to have him here during some of my darker times.
So I’ll end this with a toast of course.
Here’s to the moments’ tears rolled down our faces from laughing so hard. To the unexpected moments that have turned into some of our greatest memories. The new things we learn each day from one another and to what the future has in store and achieving all of our wildest dreams.
I love you.