Countdown to 5 years: 30 days

Alan & I will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary at the end of the month, and I wanted to intentionally reflect on our story so far. I'll share a different photo and memory each day to help us remember the path that we've walked so far - and how much more there is to come!

Back in 2009, I had been through a LOT of changes - early in the year I had broken up with a boyfriend of 4.5 years, quit my teaching job (you know - the one thing I had aimed to do with my life and gotten my college degree for), and moved back home with my parents (thanks Mom & Dad!!). With all of those changes, plus finally starting my new career with my current company in the fall, I was NOT looking for or interested in having a "boyfriend".

So of course I met Alan.

Our first date was a hike at Saguaro Lake in Arizona, in late summer 2009. There are so many things that stand out to me about this day, but let me share the clearest memory: For the first time (in maybe ever), I felt 100% like myself in the best possible way you can imagine. I didn't feel the "normal" first date stuff: anxiety, worrying about my appearance, trying to "be" the person I thought I should be. I equated it in my head to the feeling of safety I had in my family's house - I could be the best possible version of myself without worrying about censoring or monitoring. Who gets that feeling on a first date?? Much less a sweaty first date tromping through the desert, followed by a giant meal at a burger place wherein I ate more than the gentleman on this date (ahem).

On this hike, we talked… and talked… and talked. About ALL of the things. Small things. Big things. My mind was BLOWN when he told me he had just gotten out the Army (because he did NOT have the stereotypical military vibe). We talked about families, jobs, the world - pretty much everything we could think of.

The hike was hot, dusty and long. Like a fairytale, there was an incredible ending: the trail dead-ended in the most magical (for Arizona) lagoon. An inlet of the bluest water, surrounded by the greenest reeds and foliage, in the middle of the desert filled with saguaros.

Right away, we decided not to waste it and kicked off our shoes to slide into the water to cool off. It. Was. Awesome! (and very out of my normal character - usually I would have politely or uncomfortably declined) A special experience that just the two of us shared, and was a welcome relief from the heat of the hike.

I walked away from this date kind of… amazed. Something incredible had just happened, something that had to be considered. Connections with another person don't often happen with such an audible click - with such a REAL connection right away.


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