In one week I will be marrying my best friend and favorite of all human beings (well, actually all living creatures, I suppose). While I think weddings and the festivities associated with them are often focused on the future and the life that the couple will be building together, I've been thinking back on our past and how we met and everything that's happened in the past six years.
I met Daniel our freshman year of college. I was the only one from my high school to go there and almost the only person from my state, too, so I was on friend-making patrol at the beginning of freshman year. Since I was generally a pretty introverted person, one day I went to my friend next door (who was very outgoing) and asked her if she wanted to go on a meeting-people adventure. She accepted and we went traipsing through the halls of our dorm poking our heads into open rooms. The hall the floor under ours was a boys' hall and I always made better friends with guys than girls, so I was pretty interested in meeting the boys. I remember walking into Dan's room and people were sitting around talking in there and he was on his bed playing guitar. I was always a sucker for a guy who played guitar. I remember thinking he was really interesting and different from people I'd met before. We didn't really hang out much the rest of that first semester. I was still dating someone who was a senior back at my old high school and he was one of those jealous, insecure, codependent types who wouldn't have liked me hanging out with someone like Dan. I ended up breaking up with him over Thanksgiving and then spent a couple months being all heartbroken and sad.
At the end of January, at the beginning of spring semester I remember deciding that I was going to be lame and sad no more and I was going to go out and be social and have fun and maybe even date, if I found someone worth it. Pretty much that first day of spring semester I started hanging out with Dan. I'm not even sure why we started hanging out. He was one of the only people at our school who smoked (it was a small, relatively conservative school), and I enjoyed sitting by him outside and talking. I was still on the fence about hanging out with him, feeling the lingering influence of my ex-boyfriend making me feel like people like Dan (who drank occasionally, swore, and smoked cigarettes) were bad influences and would corrupt my character. As I thought about it, I didn't feel like that was the case, though. I realized that I'd always known who I was and wasn't ever one to change my own actions to "fit in" or "be cool." So I started hanging out with Dan quite a bit. Watching movies, eating at the cafeteria, walking to the gas station, getting fries from Jack in the Box at 2 am... and I started falling for him. I told myself that I'd be cool with whatever we ended up being, that I'd be content with just being friends. I was mostly cool with being just friends. But I was falling hard. One night as we were watching a movie in his room, he put his arm around me, and on another movie night we kissed. After a while I couldn't stand not knowing what we were. Part of me was convinced he liked me, and the other part of me said that we were just friends who occasionally fell prey to romantic moments. The answer to my question ended up being the latter. I was bummed... really bummed. I tried to remind myself that I had said I'd be content with being just friends, and we did stay friends, which was great! I hated when guys would get all weird after a romantic moment and then break off the friendship, but Dan never was awkward or weird about it.
Dan moved back home after our freshman year and didn't return, instead working and going to school in Tacoma. We stayed in touch, talked frequently and I was still in love with him. He visited me a few times at school and I visited him a few times too. I decided a couple times that I was going to get over him, which kind of worked... for a little bit.
I started dating James at the beginning of my junior year and I finally moved on with someone else. Dan and I still talked and I told him all about James and how I thought he was "the one." Dan was genuinely excited for me and I was excited about where his life was going and how well he seemed to be doing. When James and I broke up I would sometimes find myself crying on the phone to Dan and he always had an uncanny ability to make me feel happy and actually end up laughing. He was there when I had no one else to call.
In February 2010 I was living back home in Anchorage and found myself thinking about Dan again. He was the one person to make me laugh again after the breakup with James. I started to realize I was having feelings for him and I remember thinking, "oh man... haven't I already been down this road before?!" Haha. In March I was thinking late one night and ended up texting him out of pure curiosity, "do you think you could ever fall in love with me?" I wasn't expecting a response since it was super late at night, but he responded with, "I'm not sure, I'd have to see you in person again." I quietly cursed him, half hoping for a definitive "no" so I could get over my budding feelings early on before heading back into unrequited-love territory again. But he kept my hope alive. In June I was on a trip and had a layover in Seattle. Dan came up to visit me at the airport and I remember desperately wanting to hold his hand. I resisted and went back home to Alaska, not feeling like testing those waters just yet. Summer of 2010 we spent a lot of time texting back and forth and talking on the phone. Things were getting flirty and by the end of the summer, as I was gearing up to go on my Winne trip, Dan texted me one day, "I told a girl I was taken." Not really wanting to open up the can of worms as to what that meant, I let it slip by unanswered.
I rolled into Tacoma on October 2nd in my Winne. The 5 hour drive from Spokane to Tacoma was so filled with anticipation and nervousness that I felt like it was a blessing in disguise that one of my belts started slipping about 20 minutes out of Tacoma. My mind was taken off of being anxious and I was tightening it up right as Dan walked up, my feet sticking out from under the Winne. He kissed me that night and my questions were finally answered. Before I left Tacoma to wander the US indefinitely, he told me he was saving a place in his heart for me until I got back.
When I returned to Tacoma in December he asked me to be his girlfriend... and the rest is history! Since we first started hanging out I always knew I never wanted him to be out of my life, whether it be in a romantic way, or just friends. I even wrote one journal entry in October of 2009,"Sometimes I feel like Daniel and I will eventually get married. But right now I am like zero percent attracted to him. It's very odd because two years ago I was aching to be with him. Nevertheless, it's nice to hear someone who isn't my mom or dad say "I love you" or call me beautiful. I wonder how my life will turn out." And here I am, one week away from being his wife. I still wonder how my life will turn out, but I'm not sure it matters so much how things turn out, as long as you have your best friend, lover, and partner by your side to take on the adventure with you.
top photo by Arrow & Apple