The Man

My last post was a bit on the heavier side, so let’s lighten things up a bit.  I want to tell you more about a man.  My man.  A man who saw me, loved me, married me and made me a mom.  A man who knew my potential long before I did.  Who has always believed in me and pushes me every day to be great.

Conor and I first met in middle school.  We always had a lot of mutual friends, but for whatever reason, never really got to know each other. Even in high school, we ran in the same circles and went to the same parties but the only conversations we ever had were short pleasantries. We were young and to be candid, I don’t think either of us really noticed each other at the time.  I had a boyfriend all throughout high school, so I’m sure that played a factor.

The only thing I really knew about him was that he was a competitive swimmer and that several my friends were “interested”. High school eventually ended, and everyone started to go their own way to whatever was next.  Conor left for Kentucky on a swimming scholarship and I stayed in town to attend hair dressing school.

The fall and spring passed and before I knew it, first year had ended and everyone was coming back home for the summer.  It was early June and I went to a party with some girlfriends. As had happened so many times in the past, Conor was there with some of his buddies.  It was like any other night. Except on this night, after countless parties and celebrations, Conor and I got to chatting.  He was charming, interesting, friendly and so easy to talk to.  He seemed genuinely interested in me and what I had to say.  We ended up talking for hours.  It reminded me of a teen comedy where we finally realized it was 3am and that everyone had either paired off or passed out.  I remember leaving that night wondering why after all these years, we were just now getting to know each other.

He messaged me the next day and asked if we could go out sometime.  I said yes and was very interested, but already knew this would likely be nothing more than a summer fling. I had already started planning a trip to British Columbia for the end of the summer, where I would be going to live with some family.  I also knew he would be returning to the states for school.  I wanted to get to know him better but was acutely aware of the ticking clock that was the summer to come. 

That summer was one of the greatest of my life.  Conor opened my eyes and helped me see things from new perspectives.  He wanted big things in life and inspired me to want the same.  He got along with my family.  We were goofy together and he made me feel comfortable being who I really am.  Everything seemed so easy and natural when we were together.  I was falling in love.

By the end of the summer, I was frustrated with myself for having made the decision to move out west, but hind sight is always 20/20. We had to roll with the punches as we both had made commitments.

The days came and went and before we knew it, it was time for me to leave. We spent the morning together and I left on my driving adventure out west. It was difficult not knowing when we would be together again. We said we would stay together, but I was smart enough to know that long distance relationships were tough.  We were going to have to work for it in order to withstand being 4000km apart.

We spent as much time as possible on the phone while we were apart, and the time slowly passed by.  Not only were we thousands of kilometres apart, we had a three-hour time difference. Because of that, we would often find ourselves talking early in the morning.  I would be leaving a bar in BC at 2am PST, and he would be getting up for morning practice at 5am EST. The long phone conversations forced us to talk and communicate in a way that I don’t think we would have otherwise. Certainly not at our age.

In November my family came out to British Columbia to attend my cousins wedding. I had decided just before they came out to visit that I was ready to head back home. My mom stayed out west and drove all the way back with me. Almost as soon as I returned home, I headed down to Kentucky with Conor’s mom for American Thanksgiving.

Conor and I had been away from each other for three months and could not wait to see each other. When we showed up to his school to pick him up, he was at practice. His mom and I stood and watched from the stands until practice was over. As soon as Conor hoped out of the pool, we both went running and met each other in the hallway. I think it may have been the longest hug we have ever had, and neither of us wanted to let go.

We spent the weekend with Conor’s family in Georgia. It was amazing to spend time together, but as it always does time went by quickly. We were separated again as we dropped him back off at school and Conor’s mom and I headed back home. Thankfully, we only had to wait until Christmas to see each other again.

This cycle continued for the remainder of Conor’s school year. We were always looking forward to the next time we would see each other. Between my travels back and forth to visit I had been searching for a job. In April I got news that I was the successful candidate at the job I wanted since I arrived home from out west.

By the time Conor’s classes ended for the summer, I was working full-time at my new job.  We were both looking forward to spending more than just a weekend together. Once he was home, we were inseparable, spending as much time together as possible. We had spent so many hours talking and getting to know one another on the phone, that things just felt different than the prior summer. Our relationship had evolved and we were starting to talk more about what our futures had in store.

Conor eventually made the decision that he did not want to go back to Kentucky.  There were several factors involved in this choice beyond just our relationship, but regardless, I am sure this was not something that sat well with his family.  However, as is so often the case with Conor, he didn’t care what anyone else thought.  He knew what he wanted.   

As long as I’ve known Conor well, he has been fiercely independent.  He trusts his gut and doesn’t like being told what to do.  He never dwells on the past or how he would have done things differently.  He focuses only on the future and makes life the way he wants it to be.  It’s a trait that’s rubbed off on me over the years and has helped me dramatically. I’m very grateful for that.    

After spending most of the summer together we made another very big decision.  We were going to move in together.  I know, I know, we were young, but we knew what we wanted and that was to be together. At 19, almost 20 we both had full-time jobs and could sustain ourselves in a place of our own.

As I’m sure is the case with most people, moving in together came with it’s challenges.  It was both our first time living with someone else and that comes with a bit of a learning curve.  I liked doing things my way, and so did he.  It took quite a while for us to get used to one another in that way.  The first few months were touchy, but we learned to work with one another, rather than against.  Things continued to improve as time went on and we got into the swing of things.  It was not always easy, but we loved each other and wanted to build a life together.

During the summer we planned our first big vacation together.  We were going to Italy. My parents were going to meet my aunt and uncle and we decided we would join them.   It was an amazing trip.  We travelled to Pompei, Cinque Terra, Florence and Rome. We were on the same page as a couple and it made the trip that much more amazing.

Little did I know, Conor had decided he wanted to ask me to marry him and on the trip, asked my parents for their blessing.  He even bought the ring in Italy!  It was something we had talked about, but I was not expecting anything anytime soon.  Our last night in Italy we went out for dinner around 9pm, as we had been packing to get ready for our morning flight. We got to the restaurant and we were about to sit down when Conor asked me to come with him for a walk. He had “seen something earlier that day he wanted to show me.”

We walked, and walked and walked…by this time I started to complain. I was hungry and tired and just wanted to go back to the restaurant…looking back, I feel awful about my whining. Eventually Conor stopped walking, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were no major landmarks, I was not sure what I was looking for. And that’s when it happened.  His first question to me was actually more of a statement. “We should come back here for our honeymoon” He said.  Without really thinking I said “sure, that’d be cool”.  Then he looked and me and said “how about next year?”  As he pulled out a ring I was in total shock.  I think my first words were “are you kidding?”.  He then asked me to marry him.  On a quaint little street in Rome, outside a small café, I cried and said “of course!”. 

We walked into the restaurant right where he asked me and had him write down the name of the street on a piece of paper, and yes I still have it. We went back to the restaurant and celebrated with our family. This was the beginning of our life together as a family. We had been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride up to this point, but we were both looking forward to a bright future together.

I look back at the beginning of our relationship and smile because I feel like even though the odds were against us, we made it! It has been almost 12 years and we are still learning things about ourselves and our relationship. Every obstacle we faced sent us down a different path to the place we are today, stronger and more in love than we ever thought possible.

Now you know the story.  The story of how a girl and a boy fell in love, started a journey together and grew into a man and a woman.  You will surely learn more about this man in the posts to come.  A man who swept me off my feet and taught me to love myself and chase my dreams.   My man.

Until next time!