This post is dedicated to my biggest supporter, my wonderful husband, in honor of our 10-year dating anniversary this past week.
How do two silly high school sophomores find each other, fall in love, and grow into adulthood together? Well, here is our story.
Before I get into how we started dating, I need to rewind a year or so back. I had just begun attending the youth group at my best friends’ church, and I felt out of place. For many of the other teens, that church had long been their second home, and they were comfortable being themselves. Through all of the odd games and challenges that are typical of a youth group, there was one guy that always stood out to me. I thought his willingness to put himself out there during ultimate staring contests or insane minute-to-win-it games was charming, and his smile could light up the whole room. I was entirely too shy to say hi, so even though we had been in the same room for countless hours, we had never spoken.
Now fast forward to the first day of sophomore year. I walk into Fourth Period, World Civilizations History, and I instantly see “youth group guy”. I had never seen him at school before, as he went to a small local school that doesn’t even exist anymore for his freshman year. The class ended and my lunch period began. I had a great group of friends that all packed their lunches like me, and we ate together on the picnic tables outside. This became the routine unless we hid inside somewhere when the weather was bad. I quickly noticed that “youth group guy”, who I had only ever seen smiling and surrounded by friends, ate lunch by himself every day. Something in my heart stirred. Was me, shy Gabriela, actually going to not only talk to this guy but ask him if he would want to eat lunch with us? I don’t remember how many days passed, but one day early in the semester, I asked him. Surprisingly, he said yes! He proceeded to eat lunch with us many days after that, and we became quick friends. That World Civ class ended up being the perfect atmosphere for our friendship to blossom, but that was it- just a friendship. I certainly had a thing for him, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he had any feelings for me. Even after hanging out for much of our youth group’s New Year’s Eve lock-in, I still couldn’t tell. Up until then, we hadn’t acknowledged each other much in our youth group environment, mostly because he had a lot of buddies there. My friends thought that there was something between us, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
My heart actually shattered when the new semester began, and I discovered that his lunch period had been switched. “There go my chances”, I thought to myself. We still had World Civ together though, and eventually we got each other’s cell numbers. We texted on occasion, but it was actually discouraging, because he was the slowest, worst texter ever. That said, I already cared about him as a person, and I didn’t want to force anything or ruin the friendship that we had. I was patient.
Winter passed and so did the school dance that came with it. I ended up going with one of my besties who (like me) didn’t have a date, and we had a blast! As spring creeped in, our conversation and connection grew stronger. I threw a party for both of our small groups at my house mostly as an excuse to invite him over. There was no fooling my parents; they knew what was up, and they referred to him as “not boyfriend”. As with the first time I asked him to lunch, when I look back, I can’t believe I had the guts for the next thing I did… I asked him out on a date. Albeit very casual, I asked him if he wanted to go to Panera with me after church one Sunday around early April. Again, he said yes! Conversation came easily, and we ended up walking to nearby stores and enjoying shopping as we waited for his parents to pick us up (keep in mind that we were sophomores and too young for driver’s licenses). After a second Sunday date with “not boyfriend”, I wasn’t confused anymore. There was certainly something special between us. He even held my hand! A couple of weekends later on the bus home from a youth group excursion, he said the magic words, “Will you be my girlfriend?”. Aside from me saying that I’d marry him years later, that was one of the easiest questions I’ve ever answered. It was April 29th, 2012.
Even from the beginning, our relationship felt right, never awkward. I think our families saw how real of a couple we were, because they both invested in us, even as 16 year olds. Just a month after we started officially dating, I attended his family’s Memorial Day party, and he came on my family’s vacation. My parents bought a suite with two separate adjoining rooms just for him. Back then, I thought summer break was a death sentence for relationships. I was cautious to sign up for the summer youth group mission trip, because I knew he was going and didn’t want it to be awkward if we had already broken up before then. Up until him, my only other “relationships” had lasted 3 months. Thank goodness I took a gamble, as that trip ended up being a great bonding experience and opportunity to create unique memories together. After that trip, I knew that I loved him, but there was no way that I would tell him that early.
Okay fun side story: One day soon after dating (like maybe 2 weeks in), he walked me to my bus to go home after school. As he walked away, I swore he casually called out, “I love you”. I did a double take, but he was already gone. Much later on, I asked him about it, and sure enough it really did slip out. Maybe he subconsciously knew how our relationship would unfold.
From that summer on, we were inseparable. We hung out together, studied together, and went on family excursions together. Our lives intertwined beautifully. He lived out in the country, and what are the odds that my parents would build a house just a few miles from his in the same part of the county. Even wilder, in between selling our old house and finishing the new one, we lived in an old family home that was only a few doors down from his grandparent’s house. Looking back, he was in almost every memory that I have in that little house. By this time, we both had our licenses, so our ability to spend time together increased. Senior year came, and we got into the same college- we were planning our futures together. Growing up, I never had any dream schools or careers, so it only seemed natural to follow my heart and my two best friends (I roomed with my best girlfriend). I think everyone but us and our families thought that we were crazy.
We both walked across the graduation stage together and entered into a new phase of life. I knew that I wanted to grow with him for the rest of my life, but I also knew that I was only 18 years old. He was my boyfriend, but he already seemed like so much more than that. In my head, I saw him proposing after our freshman year of college, but he had other plans….
For the sake of not making this blog a million miles long, I’ll leave the story here. Our wedding anniversary is next month, so I’ll pick up where I left off then.
I’ve written about this before, but still to this day, we end every night by asking each other what our favorite part of the day was. It’s my number one tip for helping couples to connect, figure out what brings each other joy, and end the day on a positive note. So before I close this chapter of our love story; here are each of our favorite parts of the last 10 years together.
Me: My favorite part was falling in love with you all over again when I saw you hold our son for the first time.
Noah: “My favorite part was your pregnancy into having December. It was the most fear and excitement I’ve ever felt.”
Stay tuned for more!