Pictures from our first engagement shoot in California taken right after we got engaged!
Chapter Three: In which Brett runs off to CA, but still manages to fall in love with Christina because she is wonderful.
So, for those of you who might have forgotten, we left off during the fall of my senior year of college and Brett’s junior year. At this point there had been 1 dinner out (along with my roommate of course!) and some small Facebook wall posting flirting. Things were getting serious I tell you!!! So there we were, friends? Kind of I guess. But then, Brett up and decided that he was bored with Gordon (okay, so it happens) and he would rather head on across the country to California for the spring semester and summer. Can you really blame him? So off he goes.
The spring semester passed by uneventfully for me. During this time, while Brett busied himself playing beach volleyball and getting tan, I was thinking about my future in child life and applying for grad schools in different areas of the country. After long deliberations, (basically with myself. Because I was single) I decided on Bank Street College in NYC. Around the time of my decision, Brett sent out one of those I’m-too-lazy-to-email-everyone mass emails (kidding sweetie!!) talking all about his awesome life in awesome California, with his awesome new job and his awesome living situation…blah, blah, blah we get it, California’s the best. Let’s just say it wasn’t hard to tell by Brett’s email just how much he was lovin’ life over there. Which kind of made me think he wasn’t planning on coming back east anytime soon….Still, I emailed him back (to this day, I’m honestly not sure why) and just gave a brief update on what was going on, kind of like “Hope you’re having so much fun surfing! I’m just over here in cold, rainy MA getting ready to graduate and continue on to grad school…” I also sneakily asked about his ex-girlfriend and how things currently stood with her (were they talking? Getting back together?) Yes, I was nosy, but I also think I was wondering IF there was any chance what-so-ever of anything ever developing between us. And low-and-behold, he wrote back! And not only did he tell me about his super awesome life in CA, but he also told me what I was hoping to hear about his ex situation. He wrote, and I quote, “…So I have been living my life, trying to figure out what God’s will for me is…and it has led me to California and to an awesome church where I am interning for the summer so far…so I think God has been doing everything for a reason and I am grateful for that.” Love that. And yes I kept every single email we ever sent each other. Not only that, but they are printed and bound in a very thick, well over 300 pages, book that I gave Brett on our first anniversary. We wrote a LOT of emails.
So…fast forwarding a bit to the good parts. I graduated college, went home to PA for a few months, and then left in the fall to NYC to start my masters program at Bank Street. I moved to NYC alone and it was scary, but awesome. I found a job as a live-in nanny for a wealthy family that allowed me to live rent free in the cutest little one bedroom apartment with built in book-shelves that went floor to ceiling, right on Central Park on the Upper West Side. In return for this super sweet living situation, I basically became a nanny slave. But it worked for me because let’s just say housing isn’t cheap in Manhattan. And the kids were sweet (most of the time) and I LOVED where I lived. Through it all, Brett and I were still emailing back and forth. Never talking on the phone, but texting from time to time. Funny, random, make-you-smile texts like, “Hey, do you prefer forks with 3 prongs or 4?” It may sound so silly, but these are the best texts. These are those silly little, I want to know every little thing about you, type of texts that make you grin from ear to ear when you get them. And aren’t those not the very best type of texts?!
But the emails. The emails were insane! Like I said, we have a MASSIVE book of emails from the year we went back and forth. I’m talking each email was 23 pages long. They took a full week to write. Full of questions, and funny stories and daily events. These emails are our love story. These emails will be the letters our great-grandchildren will read after we die. At the end of each email we would ask each other 10 questions, funny and serious questions like, “Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube from the top of bottom?” and “Tell me something embarrassing from your childhood?” I learned more about Brett in those emails than I probably would have in a hundred face-to-face conversations.
One night, in October 2008, I convinced Brett over Gchat (do people still Gchat?) to drive 4 hours from Boston to NYC to visit me, on a whim, for a mere 24 hours, before he would need to drive back to Gordon in time for an important test (I think it was Calculus??) And he did. Of course he used the excuse, “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to come into the city to take some pictures…” but let’s be real here, he was coming to see me. And the whole, let’s drive a total of 8 hours in 24 hours, thing is the type of situation that makes your heart race with nerves and excitement all at once. Because, before that very moment, I had been in total denial about my feelings for Brett. Of course, looking back, it was so obvious, since I would never have written 25 page long emails to some guy I was “just friends” with, but I never could admit it. Everyone; my friends, my parents, my sisters, were all asking, “Why aren’t you dating him?” and my answer was always the same; “We are way too much alike to ever date.” You see, my last boyfriend and I were total opposites so I seemed to have created this delusional philosophy that I could never date someone who shared too many of the same similarities as me. (Obviously it made sense that I came up with this based on a relationship that failed based on our drastic differences. Totally makes sense, right??) And, the thing is, Brett and I are VERY similar. We like (and dislike) the same foods, we are both crazy on time, type A Germans, we share the same beliefs, the same faith, we have similar families and upbringings…the list goes on and on. So in my crazy mind I thought that 2 people THIS similar could never, ever work as a couple.
But then he came. And besides the fact that he was crazy adorable (and I mean crazy adorable) everything with him felt so right, so comfortable. We walked, we talked, we ate pizza (lots of pizza. Side note-I didn’t know if it was a compliment or a veiled insult when he said “Wow! I love how you can eat 3 big pieces of pizza!” Ummm…thanks?? Suddenly I feel like a heifer….) Basically it felt like we had been best friends for years. And in a way, we kind of had.
From then on the emails stopped (which was kind of sad!) and in their place came nightly phone calls, lots of texts and more and more bus trips between NYC and Boston (Thank God for the $10 Bolt Bus). As Brett neared college graduation, I felt my stomach seize up with nerves. I knew how much he loved his time in CA and I could still feel his itch to return. But obviously God had a plan for us and a perfect position was made available for him at a church right outside of DC. Still far from NYC, but just a perfect 4 hour rotation to the south (and still on the $10 Bolt bus line, so it was all good). Through my previous experience I had learned that long distance was the kiss of death for relationships (as had Brett) and yet, I’m not lying when I say that our relationship was pretty darn seamless. There were no huge fights, no “we need a break” no contemplating if this would work, it just continued to move onward, while growing stronger, for 2 full years of long distance dating. And in that time we learned to talk, and communicate, and we witnessed fear and grief and love (Brett getting stuck in Haiti after the earthquake? That’s when I knew I was going to marry the man). We not only survived, we flourished.
My grad school program ended and Brett surprised me with a graduation present; a 10 day trip to California to see and meet all the important people he had met during his time there. And during the tip, overlooking a cliff at Big Sur, Brett put his arms around me, pulled out a ring, and asked me to be his wife. And I said yes.
And we have lived happily ever after.