Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Special Day...

First off, let me begin by saying this is not an advice article. This is simply my story through my own lens. I hope it will help you understand a little more about me.

Besides being candid about how I felt or reacted to the challenges of running, I haven't gotten too personal in the blog so far. However, when I read blogs, I enjoy learning about the person behind the screen. Since today is a special day for me, I feel it's an appropriate time to share a story that began an integral part of my life: my marriage to Brandon.

Today is our 8th wedding anniversary, and I'd like to share a little about how "Bramy" came to be.

The Beginning

In some ways, we're a small town stereotype. We met in high school. My family had just moved back to Tennessee, and I was the new kid. Despite my shyness, I slowly started to make friends and forge my way into the social landscape. Coming from an even smaller school in Wyoming (about 20 or so people in my grade), I was new to the social dynamics that came along with a bigger school, especially cliques. I didn't understand the concept that people fell into different groups, or had to wear certain clothes, or act certain ways to fit into those groups. I had a similar experience adapting to (small) city life, where many more socioeconomic factors come into play. A story for a different day.

I think that's why Brandon was so interesting to me.

Brandon was very unique in that despite his quiet demeanor, he seemed to get along with virtually everyone at school. He was valedictorian of his class and hung out with the studious kids. He played basketball and hung out with the jocks. He liked rock music and had metalhead friends. He strolled casually through the halls dressed in shorts and a T-shirt all year round (don't worry, I've helped him with fashion since) like he just didn't care. He really didn't care about what people thought of him, and seemed to accept everyone for who they were.

Even me, the new girl.

I got to know Brandon (of all things) in an anatomy class while I was a junior and he was a senior. We were lab partners, and chatted quite a bit. We dissected a cat together (which I hated and he loved, so it was perfect). We got to know each other, and he quickly became a good friend. We started to develop inside jokes. He'd do something silly like throw something into the ceiling fan to see where it flew, and I pretended to roll my eyes. He shared his Discman headphones with me on a school trip. And I quickly developed a crush on him.

This led to the bright idea that I should ask him to the prom. And despite the fact that this is the most terrifying thing you can do when you're 16, I got the courage to do it. I stalked him between classes and found him at his locker. I honestly don't remember how I asked him. It was probably the most awkward thing ever.

Oh hey..so...um...I was wondering...if you were going to prom? 

And....he said no.

I'm not kidding. Being against high school social rituals, he simply didn't want to go. He was very nice about it, however, and asked if we could still be friends. I was so shocked by his kindness, I couldn't say no.

As for the prom...don't worry about me. I went and had a great time.

Before junior prom. Yowza - it was the first time I'd gotten my hair and makeup done, and I let them go too big and too heavy!

Here's a picture more representative of what I looked like back then (sans big hair and tons of makeup).

Once B graduated and went to college, our friendship continued over email and MSN Messenger. I'm really dating us here. There was a world before Facebook! We chatted online regularly and would catch a movie when he was in town every now and then. This continued through my senior year of high school and even as I went to college (2 hours from the college he attended).

From Friends to Dating

Our friendship got deeper and deeper over time. It got real on MSN Messenger. We'd talk about our days, school, our thoughts and feelings about our lives and futures. We discovered that we both had similar outlooks on life. We both had a world view different than most people where we were from. We'd laugh about the most ridiculous things. Despite the fact that I was in relationships off and on during that time, he was the constant friend in my life I could count on. On the surface, I'd written him off as a friend, but I think I always held on to the possibility that it would lead to more.

I wasn't the only one who thought this way.

I didn't know this yet, but as our friendship developed during college, he was starting to realize his feelings for me. Finally later that fall, during my sophomore year, he finally asked me to go out with him. I had just come out of a particularly difficult break-up, and had to tell him I wasn't ready for a relationship at that moment. That didn't go over very well, as you can imagine. In fact, it led to our first fight. And our first make-up.

That Christmas, we resumed our friendship and spent the entire break together. We went to movies and drove around aimlessly talking. He even got me a gift set from Bath & Body Works (so cute of him!) for Christmas. I could be open and relaxed with him and we could talk about anything. Which of course led to the conclusion that I should give this relationship a second thought. And so, January 5, 2003, over MSN Messenger, we officially became "Bramy". 

We still did all of the same things we did before - only in the context of dating. We went to more movies (there wasn't much to do in my hometown), we went bowling, we went to dinner. We got to know each other's families better. He took me out to Knoxville for our first Valentine's Day and got me flowers and a Build-a-Bear.

Valentine's Day 2003. Look at our hair! Why did I think highlights were a good idea?

And I have to say, everything was going great!

I'll be honest. I was NEVER good at dating. The whole "you have to wear this", "don't call or text for X number of days", "Don't say this", "Don't act too interested" was so complicated to me. I don't know how to flirt. I was never one of those girls who had 10 guys blowing up my phone, and I don't know what I would have done if I had. I don't understand why there has to be such a complicated code.

With Brandon, everything made sense (and still does). I don't have to worry about that stuff. He doesn't care about that stuff. We can just be honest and open and silly and ourselves. We even have silly nicknames. We quote shows like "How I Met Your Mother" or "Family Guy" to each other. We get into silly "fights", like an epic water battle that led to his pillow getting soaked and me getting thrown into a pool. I promise it was all in good fun. 

I'm sure some wonder, how could I possibly be sure about a relationship at such a young age?

The transition from friends dating to was seamless and natural. It was like before I had been struggling to navigate this crazy world, and now everything clicked together and I knew exactly where to go.

That's why, 6 months after dating, at 19 years old, right before my junior year, we got engaged. I was 100% sure I loved him completely, he loved me completely, and it was the right step for us. My life was happy, fulfilled, fun, and made perfect sense. Living this way the rest of my life and growing old with him sounded wonderful.

I didn't know how to approach my family and friends about it. Fortunately, they were all very supportive, assuming we wait to get married until after college (which we did).

Sadly, when I share my story these days, I'm often met with shocked expressions. You got engaged as a teenager? You got married at 21? I know that's very young by today's standards (especially outside of small towns), and that it's not the right choice for everyone. It was the right choice for me, however. I sometimes wish that instead of the shock factor, I could get the "oohs" and "awws" like others get when sharing their engagement stories (I do sometimes). I often find myself on the defensive, saying something apologetic like "well, we had been friends for a long time first" to try to explain. In fact, I almost wrote this article from that perspective. I shouldn't have to defend my choices or relationship.

The Wedding Day

We were engaged for 2 years so we could finish school, until July 2, 2005. I was just out of college and had started my first job, and he was done with classes and headed into a semester of student teaching.

It was a wonderful day. We're both low-key, so we had an outdoor ceremony at the amphitheater at the college I went to undergrad close to our hometown.

And Beyond...

While some may believe that marrying early could hinder one's education and career progress, I have felt the exact opposite. The wonderful thing about being married is that we each have a full-time supporter and we help each other reach our personal and career goals.

While married, he graduated with his undergrad and later me with my MBA.

That's not to say it was all easy. Early in our marriage I realized that my job wasn't the best fit for me, so I left it to pursue my MBA full-time. Soon after, he realized teaching wasn't his calling, and left the field, eventually finding his place in the medical field. We supported each other through the difficult transitions. We've helped each other through major car break downs and repairs. We purchased a house and deal with the occasional headaches together. He can't stand how clumsy and haphazard I am. I can't stand that he leaves his keys/phone/receipts/wallet/shoes/etc all over the living room when he arrives home.

For the love of all that is holy, why does he do that?! To slowly drive me insane?

But through the hard times, when I'm REALLY annoyed with him, I just remember:

This is the guy you chased after through high school, and you would have been THRILLED to no end if you'd known you'd end up with him.

This is the guy who chased you through college and didn't give up on you, even when you'd almost given up on him.

This is the guy who is your best friend, and would do anything to make you happy, even if it involves silly nicknames or singing a song, or doing a silly dance.

This is the guy who has taken care of you when you were sick, even recovering from surgery.

This is the guy who will go along to any social event, any destination, even dress up like Snooki and Vinnie from the Jersey Shore if you ask him to.

I knew you'd want to see this.

This guy could have chosen to be with anyone, but he chose YOU.

And I can't get mad anymore.

But let's not forget about the good times!

We've been on great trips...

We love living in Knoxville...

We've adopted two wonderful kitties...

We love running together...

And here we are today!

In closing, I repeat that this is not an advice article. Don't worry, I'm not making the case that marrying young like I did is for everyone. I'm in no position to tell someone when, who, and how they should marry.

But as for me, it has been a wonderful 8 years, and I look forward to many more! Happy anniversary, B! 


Don't worry - I'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming of running posts soon.

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  1. First of all, I love that last picture of you two. It's really cute. Also, I'm sorry you feel like you need to defend your relationship choices, even after 8 years. It's obvious you made the right decision. I have a few friends who got married that young, so even though that IS young, it doesn't seem strange to me. You have a great story, and it's fun to have known each other for so long! Thanks for sharing! And don't feel like you need to apologize for not posting about running either. If I've learned one thing about blogging it's that you need to always do what you want. People can make the decision whether or not to read it on their own. Happy anniversary!

  2. Thank you on the pic. One of my best friends is a photographer who does amazing work!

    Honestly, we do have a network of family and friends (many from our hometown and quite a few I've met here) who are very supportive and caring. I usually run into this when I meet new people, especially from urban areas. No one has ever been so bold as to question my choices or suggest they weren't good choices. It's more of a: "Wow, really?", "I can't believe..." "Were your parents okay with it?" kind of reaction. I think my defensive response is more internally driven, and I want to get out of that mindset. :)

    I'm glad you enjoyed the story! I personally enjoy when bloggers take a break from the topic driven articles and write a little more personally. Great advice! Thank you for the kind words!

  3. What a beautiful story! We all come to love in different ways and it is lovely to read such a touching account of how you two met. You look great together and I wish you a deepening friendship today and every day - I think you have a sense that it is only true friendship that will get you through life's challenges. xx

    1. Thanks, Vicky! I'm glad you enjoyed! Thank you for all of the kind words. I agree that every relationship should have a strong friendship element. We developed the friendship before we dated, whereas many others develop the friendship as they build the relationship. Life is hard, and it helps to have a friend. :)

  4. Hi Amy,

    It's Flower from UpandHumming. What a great blog entry, kudos to you for sharing such a sweet story. I just realized you live in Knoxville. I live in Florida but Knoxville is my hometown and I grew up there. No wonder we both have knots! Good luck on your 5K.

    1. Hi! Yes, I saw your blog through Running Bloggers and thought that was a funny coincidence. :) Thank you for the kind words. How cool to meet a fellow (former) Knoxvillian! Good luck on your 10K as well!

  5. I LOVE this post. Mostly because I read it and I think it sounds almost like you're telling my life story! My boyfriend's name is Brandon and we met in 8th grade - have been friends forever - but didn't start dating until about three years ago. The relationship dynamics and experiences you described are like deja vu to me, its so funny! I'm very glad you two found each other and happy anniversary!

    1. Thanks Alicia! Wow, it's so funny how many similarities we have! :) How cool that you guys were friends for so long, too! A friend told me that finding each other early just means you get more time together. :)