So on our anniversary, I thought I'd share the story of us.
We met in early 2001. I had finished Year 12 only months before and, without any decisive plan about study or future career options (I still don't have any plans really! I wonder when I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up), I threw myself in to casual work. I started working at the same place where future hubby worked, so that's how we met. I was 18, he was 23.
I must admit, at first I found him to be a bit intimidating. I was just a little teenager fresh out of school, and here was this trendy, self-assured 20-something jokester who was a little too-cool-for-school. But he made me laugh and time would prove that he was fun to be around. At the time we worked with a group of people who spent a lot of time together outside of work, so we slowly got to know each other better. By the next year we had realised that we really liked each other and, as risky as it can be to start going out with something you work with, we were a bit young and naive and so decided we would give it a try nonetheless. Live now, deal with the consequences later! Our anniversary date of 22 April came about because we had been spending a lot of time together in the weeks prior, and aware that we had moved on from just being friends. Probably to feed my obsessive need for everything to have order, I asked future hubby, "So do you think we're officially boyfriend and girlfriend now?", to which he replied yes, and I happily confirmed that "That's it then - 22 April is our official anniversary date!" Order established :)
We eventually let everyone at work in on the "secret" that we were an item, and luckily for us, we never had to deal with any "consequences" of going out with a work-mate. Time rolled on, we celebrated "month-iversaries", and I spent so much time at his apartment (I was still living at home at this point in time) that by rights I probably should have been paying rent! Actually, I think maybe I did eventually start contributing some cash to rent or bills or something. I like to be fair. Through the first year or so of us being together, he lived in a centrally-located apartment and went through a few housemates in that time. We made the most of the fabulous location, strolling down at nights to the local restaurant and shopping precinct for an amazing pizza-and-pasta dinner in a little Italian trattoria; or stumbling down bleary-eyed for a lazy big brekkie on a Sunday morning; deciding on a whim to go and catch a movie at the cinema across the road; and one time, spontaneously pulling an all-nighter at the local Irish pub, just the two of us, and somehow finding our way back home in the dark. Ahh, those were the days!
We felt like we needed a place of our own though, somewhere with a bit more room and some backyard space. So in our second year together, we moved in with each other. We seemed to find our own rhythm pretty quickly, and didn't experience any major first-time-living-together teething pains. We were just happy to be with each other all the time. We got a dog together, and of course, he became our baby (our first baby!).
We stayed in that house for two and a half years. In our last year or so of living there, we had made the decision to look for a housemate, to share the costs of rent and bills and ease the "financial burden" on us renting alone. Like we knew what financial burden was at that point in time, with no mortgage and no kids. As I said earlier on - young and naive! We found a housemate, a young student who hadn't lived out of home before but had moved to our city to go to uni. She seemed nice, friendly, outgoing....later on we would come to realise that she wasn't our perfect match.
But before that all came to a head....I came home from work one night, tired and cranky after a long day, to find future hubby at home waiting for me on his own. I promptly lead in to my usual routine - opening a beer and launching in to the full story of my day and everything that had happened. We were standing outside, beer in hand, me blabbing away, when I said I needed to go to the bathroom and would be right back. He asked me to wait a minute. "No, I'll be right back" I said. But he was insistent. He grabbed my hand, and then called our dog over to him to stand beside him (for support I guess!). The conversation went like this-
Him: "You know I love you, right?"
Him: "And you know I want to be with you forever, right?"
And then he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring box and opened it up to reveal a gold engagement ring, and asked me to marry him. All the while, with me still with a beer in hand and almost at the point of needing to cross my legs because I was really needing to go to the bathroom now. At this point I turned in to a nervous, babbling heap, squeaking at him "When did you have time alone to go shopping for that ring? Wait a minute.....the other day when you said you had gone to the mall to do some shopping, was this what you were doing? Oh my God, I can't believe you fooled me like that!"
Him (still on one knee on the ground): "Umm.....hello?"
Me: "Oh, of course! Yes! Sorry....yes!"
And so we were engaged after being together for three and a half years.
Our relationship to our housemate had turned pretty sour by this point, I won't go in to details here but I'll just say that we didn't see eye to eye and none of us were enjoying being around each other at home. As a newly engaged couple, we realised we didn't want to be married and living in a rental place with a housemate we weren't compatible with, so after lots of talking, meetings, paperwork and open houses, we bought our first home, me at age 24 and he at age 29. Shortly after moving in (and laughing at ourselves for thinking we were broke before taking on a mortgage), we got a second dog. We were a family of four in our very own place!
Our wedding took place after an engagement of just over two years. It was quite casual with around 70 guests joining us at a homestead just out of Canberra, for an outdoor garden ceremony followed by a cocktail-style reception in the homestead grounds. There was lots of music and laughter and drinks, and all in all it was just a fab day.
We had learnt just how expensive weddings can be though, and decided to put our honeymoon off for a while so we could get enough money together to go somewhere really fantastic. I had never been overseas before and had my heart set on making this my first trip. 5 months after our wedding, we eventually jetted off to Tokyo for our first stop, then on to Italy for a couple of weeks, followed by quick stops in at Paris and London, before heading back to Tokyo on our way home. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, and even now four years on, I still look back on that trip with longing and awe, and my heart aches to explore more of the world with him. One day we'll head out again....
And finally that brings us to the event that changed everything about our lives and who we were, the birth of our first child. We had always freely talked about having kids and knew it was in our future, and I remember the conversation we had when we decided it was time. I can't remember how it began, but after talking about our ages, our situation, our fears and our excitement about having children, we realised - what better time is there than right now?
Bringing Mia in to our lives certainly did turn it all upside down from what it was before, and although that was confusing and difficult to understand at first, there's no way we'd choose to change it now. We're still very new at being parents and we have a lot to learn, both as individuals when it comes to looking after Mia, and also in how to relate to and support each other as parents. We're haven't decided for sure if we'll have child #2 (although I have a feeling it will happen). But what I do know, is that my husband knows me better than anyone, is gentle, can always make me laugh, is my rock, and is a wonderful father. I love him and he loves me. Here's to the next 10 honey!
The canvas that hangs in our bedroom, listing all the dates of important events in our relationship. Room for plenty more yet!