Girl Meets Boy

On July 23, 2004, I met a boy that would change my life forever – and I had no clue.

But let’s back up a month. As a freshly minted twenty-one year old who had just exited a long-distance relationship and had her best friend relocate out of state, I jumped at the chance to start anew when a pal announced he was moving to Texas and needed a roommate. That June, I drove 1,500 miles from Los Angeles to Dallas to interview for a veterinary tech opening. I decided landing it would be my sign to relocate. While there, I met a guy who I thought was hunky and fun. After nabbing the job that would start in August, I drove back home, eager to return to the Lonestar State and see what might develop.

However, never one to shun online dating (weed out crazies while in pajamas and eating Cheetos?! count this girl in!), I logged into my dating profile and was greeted by a guy named Sean. We spent the afternoon chatting and I was keen on his sense of humor. He had recently gotten out of his own lengthy relationship and was new to California, so in an effort to make pals, he asked me to come watch a movie that night. With no other plans, I said sure. After giving all his info to my best friend (in case he were to, say, murder me) I was on my way.

I didn’t plan on more than a short-lived friendship. After all, I was moving soon and there was that good looking cowboy. Yet when I showed up for my free movie and scoured his DVD collection, I was delighted to find it filled with my obscure favorites. As we popped in “What About Bob?” I decided he wasn’t half bad.

I stayed until the sun rose. Conversation was effortless, laughter ran rampant. He was addicting in every sense – but I didn’t want another long distance relationship and he wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship again. Plus he didn’t fall into the “poor choice” genre I had a penchant for:  He had an education, an actual career, and was an “OLDER MAN” of 24. He was stable and grounded. He had dimples only if his smile meant it and sense of wit to match my own. I mean REALLY match my own.

He was just what I needed.

We spent every day together until I left for TX. I our first theater flick was “The Notebook” — the plot of leaving at the end of summer was not lost on me. Soon it was moving day. As the majority of my items hitched a ride to Texas via moving company, I begrudgingly packed up smaller belongings, my two cats, and went on my way. I played a song on repeat and got lost in thought. Wasn’t this what I wanted? What about that dude in Texas? That new job? The fresh start I was SO sure I needed? We texted the entire drive and I cursed the stretches without reception.

Because the moving company was unexpectedly behind schedule with our computers and furniture, I spent the next week training on my new job and spending money I shouldn’t at Kinko’s to chat online with Sean. I spent my nights curled on my bedroom floor in a sleeping bag, wishing him a good night before we drifted away.

On my fifth day in Texas, I went on another date with that dude I had found so snazzy during my first visit. I zoned out the entire dinner, checking my watch, and wondering what Sean was doing.

And that’s when it hit me: I wanted that guy. I needed that guy. And I was just irresponsible enough and crazy enough to try. On the sixth morning, I decided I was moving back. I told Sean and I believe our precise conversation went:

Sean: You’re not moving back for me, are you?

Brittney: What? No, not at all.

Sean: Okay because I am NOT ready for a relationship right now. I mean that.

Whatever, buddy. If you knew anything about 21-year-old-me, you would know she never listened to people when they said things. 😉 The next morning I shoved my few belongings back into my car, loaded my cats back up, and drove 1,500 miles like a mad woman. I played another song on repeat and didn’t stop for sleep. I didn’t even stop for home. I drove directly to Sean for a hug.

I would love to say that single embrace made us fall madly in love, but let’s be at least mildly realistic. We continued to date exclusively, but without the “boyfriend/girlfriend” labels, so to speed things along, I worked my awesome skills of subtly; and by subtly I mean wearing shirts with blatant, iron-on messages like, “I’d Date Me!” and “I’m a Delight!” You know – discreet things to nudge him in my favor.

By the end of summer, my t-shirt campaign clearly worked because we became an official couple.

That fall, he got his first apartment and I unofficially moved in (by not leaving). Because that’s how I roll. That same month, Sean said the big three words — and I was SO hoping to hear them and SO afraid he didn’t mean to say them, that I didn’t acknowledge them whatsoever:

(Making popcorn before watching Garden State, which is sort of our movie)

Sean: *while holding popcorn bowl* I love you.

Brittney: *thinking he misspoke* I love popcorn, too.

The next morning he asked, “Did you HEAR what I said last night?” 😉

And so goes the story of our love. I took a (very stupid, incredibly risky, and never recommended) chance and we’ve been inseparable since.

On Bended Knee

Raised in a California beach town, I had never experienced a “white Christmas.” Sean, raised in Eastern Washington, had experienced more than his fair share. However, knowing it sounded magical to me, we journeyed 1,200 miles to his parents home to spend Christmas 2006 surrounded by snow.

It was BEAUTIFUL to see everything blanketed like real winter wonderland.

In the days leading up to Christmas, my (soon to be) sister-in-law and I gushed about weddings and proposals – normal talk for us. She even teased Sean about proposing to me in front of his mother, and I was completely embarrassed she might be think I expected her son to want to marry me. I’m such a weirdo.

After the gift-opening festivities ended on Christmas night, we were going to drive to a cabin owned by family friends. It is Sean’s most favorite spot in the entire world, and after a few Summer trips making it one of mine, I was excited to see the lake covered in ice.

We were meeting up with two of his best friends, whom also happened to be chefs and had planned an Italian feast for us. A lakeside pasta fest, watching snow fall, sounded like the perfect ending to a very beautiful Christmas day. As we packed our things to stay the night, the hopeful future Mrs. Sean in me took over, and while he showered, I maybe, just maybe, tore through his suitcase looking for a ring box. No cigar.

Getting to the cabin was its own adventure, as the main road turned into a small mountain strip that became icy and horrifying — especially for someone from a city that considers driving in rain a risk. When the car became a little unsteady, and I nervously asked Sean if we should break out the chains. In an attempt to calm me, he explained, “chains are only for emergencies.”

Right on cue, the car could go no further. As Sean got out the chains, I worked myself into a dramatic tizzy, freaking out that Bailey was in the car and we had stopped on an unlit turn that made us invisible to others. Sean silently punched himself for stating the need for chains was an “emergency.”

To keep me busy, he suggested I set out a blinking emergency light we had packed so that other drivers could see us. I patted myself on the back for purchasing it until I realized I didn’t pack batteries. We eventually made it to the cabin, with Sean stressed out that my night may have been ruined.

After dinner, the brothers announced they wanted to take their metal row boat out onto the icy lake. At night. As they tend to do the strangest things in the name of adventure, I brushed off what was clearly the least intelligent idea of the year.

Sean cheerily suggested we leash up Bailey and follow them down to the dock. In no mood to leave the warmth of the cabin and brave the snowy path in the dark, Sean offered anything helpful to get me to the dock. I was too cold? I could wear his jacket. My mittens weren’t that good? I could use his. Did I need a hat? A scarf? A pony? COULD I PUT MY SHOES ON ALREADY?! After declaring that seeing his beloved lake in the winter moonlight would mean everything to him, I relented. Two jackets and many mittens later, the three of us made our way down to the water.

And he was right. It was breathtaking. There was a light snow falling and everything glittered off the water. The brothers had positioned several large rocks into little cove for a natural fireplace, and standing there listening to nature and the crackling fire was quite romantic — exactly as he planned.

We stood for a few moments, staring out at the lake, peering into the darkness for any sight of the rowboat. Sean breathed out and began a speech about how much appreciates me and how much I’ve changed his life. About how life changes when you meet someone you want to accomplish your dreams with. I cut him off mid-speech when Bailey’s leash wrapped around my leg. As I turned away from Sean to fix it, I heard him un-Velcro his jacket pocket.

My heart stopped.

OMG HE’S GOING TO PROPOSE!

I straightened up and faced him as glamorously as possible. Hair over shoulder, wide smile. I wanted to be FABULOUS at that moment. I turned around and… watched him calmly remove a spare pair of mittens from his pocket.

Because it was cold. And snowing. And I’d stolen his first pair of mittens. Of course. I felt my face flush.

He started round two of his speech only to again be cut-off by Bailey wanting to be held. I picked him up, and Sean continued, telling me how there comes a point in someone’s life when they know they want to spend forever with someone — and he dropped to one knee.

And it CLICKED.

I was so flustered trying to look dazzling, not snot all over the place from emotion, AND ingrain every detail that I almost dropped Bailey as I set him down.

He pulled out a small black box and opened it up, asking me if I recognized the ring. A few months earlier, I had shown him an example of my dream ring – the platinum version of my mother’s engagement ring.

I nodded and reached for it, but stopped when I remembered I wore mittens for a reason and would certainly drop it into the snow. That would be fun times, right? Hunting down a CLEAR diamond in some SNOW in the DARK? I wiped my face and asked to put it on in the cabin instead. Sean grinned and asked, “So, um, can I have my answer?”

OH! Oops! I screamed yes and a firework shot off from across the lake, triggered by someone in a metal rowboat. ;)

Down the Aisle

On October 13, 2007, I walked down an aisle in Spokane, Washington, and married my best friend.

I walked down that aisle with my father to “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Dream Academy – the museum song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 😉 I walked up that aisle with my husband to “Twist & Shout” by the Beatles – another nod to Sean’s favorite movie.

Because we covered most of the wedding ourselves, we DIY-ed everything we could: table runners, frosted candles, every flower arrangement and bouquet, fold-out-fan programs, bar and dinner menus, invitations, Save-the-Dates. If we could make it for less, we did. I even hand-sketched our whimsical cake.

Both ceremony and reception were held outdoors, accented by beautiful fall foliage that only the Pacific Northwest could provide, with twinkle lights and hanging lanterns illuminating the dance floor. We had a sand ceremony and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law read poems. We wrote our own vows. In an effort to incorporate all our beautiful nieces and nephews, we had one ring bearer, two flower girls, a flower girl chaperon, and a dog walker. Yes, that’s right, Bailey attended both ceremony and reception with his role of, “Best Dog.” 😉

True to my family’s sense of humor, my father opened his speech with, “Just when I started to like you, you’re getting married!” We offered the guests s’mores packets around a fire pit and hot cocoa. We had an amazing time with even more amazing people – and when all was said and done? We caravanned with the bridal party through Taco Bell – because the only way to start happily ever after is with an obscene amount of nachos. 😉