EDIT: Yes, I know this is longer than many people like to read. Short version: I am engaged, hooray!
Time for my first, and most likely my only, landmark thread.
Back before I even knew Hatrack existed, I met the love of my life. Of course, as is natural, I didn't have a clue at the time. It was my junior year of high school and the chorus took a trip to Florida for a competition. While on the road I met a sophomore who caught my attention. By the end of the week we had decided to start dating each other. A month or so later, that was over.
The two important things to come out of that quick relationship were a) she was the last failed relationship I would ever have, and b) she had a friend.
By the time we broke up, I knew I was beginning to feel something for her friend, Annie. This was the summer between my junior and senior year in school, and though I had and considered other options, I couldn't get this girl out of my head. She didn't drive, and at this point in her life her mother didn't let her ride with any teenage drivers, so it was difficult to see her while school was out. I figured the best way to get around this was to spend ridiculous amounts of time with Annie's best friend. This allowed me to create extra opportunities to see if she would, to use a high school term, like me.
Well, she did. As the summer progressed, I convinced her mother that I was more mature and responsible (don't know how she fell for that) than other teens and Annie was allowed to ride in my car. On August 5, 2001, I showed up unannounced at her house, and asked her to take a walk with me. Her dog ran out the door, which I was smart enough not to take as a bad omen. While on the walk, I asked her to go out with me and she agreed.
The next year was typical high school romance. We dated and hung out and generally got to know each other. She was by far the longest relationship I had in high school. Unfortunately, it was time for me to choose a college, and I had a scholarship offer I couldn't refuse from 500 miles away. I decided to keep dating her through the summer to see if she would be interested in continuing this long distance. She was. We had a few tear-filled goodbyes and then it was off to school.
I would be lying if I claimed I had no regrets and no doubts. Even though we told each other that we were in love, we were too young and too inexperienced to understand that we weren't. There was only one time that I considered seriously the notion of calling it all off, and I managed to fight through it. We were just young and stupid enough to think a long distance relationship could work for a year until she graduated from high school.
I was also young and stupid enough to believe that Annie would come to school near me instead of going to school close to home (still 500 miles away), but that is exactly what she did.
If the first year of dating long distance was difficult, the next three were excruciating.
As I look back now, I honestly don't know how we survived so far away from each other. My mom works for an airline, so I can fly for free, but even so we only saw each other once every 6 weeks or so. If there is anyone out there attempting to accomplish this sort of feat, I have some tips which may be useful to you. Don't try to pull this off with the one-long-phone-call-after-9-for-free-minutes approach. It stinks. Instead, make frequent, short phone calls throughout the day to discuss the trivial things going on. This makes it feel as though you are sharing your life with someone instead of relating whatever things are important enough to remember later on. Also, you can get off the phone instead of having those long, awkward pauses where you realize you have nothing to say and beging to doubt your decision.
Actually, that's the only advice I can think of at the moment. If you are in a 4 year, long distance relationship, you know that the only way to make it work is to actually love each other, and eventually we did. I can't pinpoint a day where my feelings became solid love, but somewhere in there it happened. A different feeling than the initial infatuation and delusion slowly surfaced. I can now look back at those first few years and realize I had no idea what I meant when I said I love you. I assume this means that a few years from now I will think my current feelings were inadequate compared to what I will then be feeling. At least I hope so.
You would know I was the world's biggest liar if I said there weren't some rough times. There were. Really rough times. I feel that this is the sort of time I can gloss over them.
Eventually we made it through college, or at least I did. She still had one year to go and it was decision time once again. I could stay where I was and take a job with the local sheriff's office, awaiting her acceptance and choice of vet school, or I could spend the interim year back home, doing who knows what. After long, terrible discussions that I don't want to recall, I moved back to Pennsylvania. I do not regret this decision in the slightest, even though Annie believes she forced me to do it. It was the right thing to do.
During that year, we were still about 1.5 hours apart, but we were able to see each other every week, which is still a major improvement over our previous state. Annie was accepted as an out-of-state student to NC State (I couldn't have been more proud), and we prepared for the next move.
The last 6 months have been wonderful. We live in the same apartment complex and get to see each other almost every day. This may sound like a nightmare to some of you, but you clearly never experienced a long-term distance relationship. I think we are finally starting to move past the point of coveting our time together, a habit that seems hard to break, and into the zone of normal relationship.
In short, Annie and I have succeeded where very few others have. It wasn't easy, and we might have needed as much stubborn perseverence as love sometimes, but I think it gives us just about the strongest foundation for a relationship as you can have. I don't think anyone in the world would have bet on us staying together.
This past Thursday, I took Annie to Chimney Rock for a hiking trip. While on top of the mountain, between the waterfall and the outcroppings, I asked her if she recalled when I asked her to go out with me. She listed the times she thought I was going to, and finished with me asking her to take a walk. I told her that I wanted to take another walk with her, which confused her since we were already walking, so I said I meant a walk that would last the rest of our lives. Anything in the world is worth the look on her face when she realized what I was doing and spun to face me. It is burned into my memory. I knelt and asked her to please do me the honor of marrying me, and she said yes (so she claims anyway, I think I blacked out).
It was amazing, and I couldn't be happier for us. Our families are excited, even if nobody was particularly surprised. She is the most important thing in my life, and I can't imagine not spending the rest of our lives together.
Many times, I have attempted to put into words the feelings I have for Annie, to try expressing what love is in language. I actually think I have a pretty good speech prepared right now, but I think I will save it for the rehearsal dinner, whenever that turns out to be. For now I will just say that you are my world, babe, now and always.
That is our story, at least in my words, and it closes the first chapter of our lives. If you ask Annie, she would tell you a completely different version of events. For example, her version of how we first met begins a full year before mine, and we will probably never agree on that. But those are her stories, and if she wants to tell them, she will.
I love you, Annie (you guys know her as RackhamsRazor), and I hope to be the kind of man who can make you proud.
Awww. I tried a couple of long distance relationships -- my first was just being 2,000 miles apart and only seeing each other at summer. That almost lasted 2 years (we started out in the same town for 4-5 months.) Later I tried writing to someone while they were on a 2 year mission (I had only figured out the mutual attraction 3 weeks before he left). That's why I jumped aboard the good ship Matrimony after only 8 days of engagement. Congratulations, both of you!
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That's so awesome! Congratulations! I'm really happy for you guys. "Our families are excited, even if nobody was particularly surprised." This goes for me too. I thought you guys were engaged years ago.
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You know, your story actually sounds a little bit like my own story. I also met my wife in high school, and she was the friend of another girl I liked. I was also a year ahead of her in school and we had to do the long distance thing--although, in our case it wasn't as long or as far. We've been together now for over 11 years and this summer will be our 5th wedding anniversary. So hopefully that means you have a lot of great things to come, too.
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