I married my husband Stephen in March of 2016, and it was one of the best decisions that I have made so far in my adult life. Stephen and I went to the same middle and high school, and although I knew of him, I never really knew him personally until sophomore year of high school. Honestly, my first impressions of him was that I thought he was kind of dorky and quiet and not the typical guy I would usually go for, but that is what makes our story even better!
I’m not going to lie, I was kind of mean to Stephen in the beginning. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a bully, but I wasn’t the best person to him. Stephen and my best friend are going to hate me for this, but my first big memory of Stephen was when I found out that he had a crush on my best friend, Caille. I just remember finding out that tidbit of solid gold information, and running and telling her immediately. (Let’s not forget that I was a sophomore in high school, so maturity wasn’t really relevant to my life yet.) We kind of laughed about it and then just carried on with our day. Another not so great memory was from the sophomore year homecoming. Caille would be the first to admit this, but we were incredibly obnoxious and it was not a good look. At the time, we just thought that we were funny, but in reality, if I could go back in time to punch my younger self I wouldn’t hesitate. During the dance, we were just running around talking to random people, and then we came across Stephen and his group of friends. They were just standing by the bleachers, minding their own business, and for some reason young Brookana thought that that was an open invitation to do whatever I wanted. I don’t even know what my thought process was, but for some reason, I ended up singling Stephen out from the group and punched him right in the gut. I just remember him kind of holding his stomach, bending over a little, and then me laughing and running away. (Is it bad that the memory still makes me chuckle a little bit? Probably.) Like I said, it wasn’t a good look, and it was mean, but if it didn’t happen maybe we would have never become a thing to being with.
With all of the weird things that I did to Stephen back in the day, I am not quite sure what he saw in me that made him develop feelings. If I were him, I would have made a voodoo doll and tortured the hell out of me for being so fucking odd. But the more we talked, the more I realized how incredible of a person he was, and how easy it was to have a genuine conversation with him. All of the other guys that I had feelings for in the past were either way older, looking for one thing and one thing only, or were just horrible people. Stephen was the real deal, he was sweet, calm, understanding, funny, and honestly the list could go on for ages so I will just leave it at that. We ended up finally talking about how we felt about one other with the help of a couple of mutual friends, and then that was that.
We waited a little while after the “I like you” conversation to actually become a couple, and I am actually glad that we did because we gave ourselves the time to really know if being in a relationship was what we wanted. After about a month, we decided that we wanted to be together, so on June 26th, 2009, we became “official.” That summer was super hectic and we really didn’t get to spend a lot of time together. For a little while, I was just super uncomfortable for some reason and avoided seeing him. I even lied to him on my birthday and said that my dad wanted me to stay home and be with my family for my birthday, even though my dad didn’t care what I did. After that, I left for Dallas for a month, and that is when things changed. Since we had hardly any physical contact for the beginning of our relationship, which was because of me, we spoke primarily on the phone through calls, texts, and Skype. When I first arrived to Dallas, I was unsure if I wanted to stay committed to him, but by the time I left Dallas, I was totally in love. I was actually the one who told Stephen that I loved him first. I realized I loved him after I told him something that had happened to me and he just made me feel protected. I knew that he would never hurt me, emotionally or physically, and that he really did have the best intentions. Stephen has a way about him that he doesn’t have to say or do anything at all, but you just know that he will be there for you no matter what. That quality of his just shines so brightly, and it was apparent from the very beginning. After I told him that I loved him, he admitted that he wasn’t there yet. It actually didn’t sting as much as much as you would think. I am grateful that he didn’t say it because to tell someone that you love them is huge, and to not mean it would be devastating.
When I came back from Dallas, Stephen had a baseball tournament in St. Louis, so we were separated for an additional week. By the time he came home, we planned on seeing each other right away. He had told me that he needed to tell me something, and I just remember being really anxious about it. I overthink everything, so I had countless thoughts running through my brain. Does he want to break up? Did he meet someone else? Did he realize that he hates me from how I was in the past and this was a huge mistake? I was just so worried. When I got to his house, he gave me a huge hug, and that relieved some of the anxiety. Then I gave him his souvenirs from Dallas, and then he said that he wanted to talk. He led me up to his bedroom, shut the door, and sat on his bed. Then he motioned for me to come sit next to him. I just remember thinking “What the fuck is going on?” He was so serious. It was obvious that he was nervous. He held his head down low, and kept playing with his hands. After a few moments, he finally started talking. He brought up a conversation that we had had in Dallas, where I had told him something from my past that was difficult for me to tell him. He said that ever since that conversation, all he could think about was protecting me and making sure that I was safe. And that was when he told me that he loved me. It was overwhelming and special. He finally said it, and I knew that he meant it. No one has ever loved me before, and it made me feel all sorts of things.
After we both knew that we were in love with each other, our relationship picked up momentum. We were with each other whenever we were both free, we spoke non stop, and all we thought about was being together. During the first year of a relationship, you’re not really in reality. You’re still getting to know each other, so everything is fun. The dates are fun, the communication is fun, the sex and the intimate parts are fun. Everything is shiny and new and you just can’t get enough. And it’s not like that the excitement from a relationship goes away completely the longer you are together, but in the beginning everything is just amplified by ten million. It was the perfect first serious relationship, he was the perfect guy, and everything was just amazing.
I consider myself to be a realist, so I like to consider all outcomes with everything. I wanted Stephen and I to be a forever couple, but I always knew in the back of my head that something could happen that could make us go our separate ways. We almost broke up a couple of times because of mistakes that we have both made in the relationship, but this is where I am going to bring in advice that I had spoken about in my previous post. Everything is about choices, and your future is derived from what ever choices you make. Every mistake that Stephen and I had made that almost split us up was never worth actually separating from. There were times where forces beyond our control almost made us question if this relationship was worth it, but in the end we always chose to stay together and become even stronger. Our love for each other goes deeper than any issue that we have had to overcome, and looking back I am proud to say that the man I married is the man that I started dating when I was fifteen.
Stephen is unlike anyone I have ever known. He is my absolute best friend. He is the funniest person I have ever met. I have never felt such a magnetic attraction to anyone else in my whole life. We have our serious moments, our easy going moments, and moments where we are crying from laughing so hard. He is, in my head, the perfect person.
There is a story in Greek Mythology that says that the original people to have walked this earth had four arms, four legs, and two faces. These people were powerful, so powerful in fact that even Zeus was afraid of what they were capable of. So, out of fear, Zeus took the original people and tore them in half, dooming them to a life of searching for one another. The two halves that were searching for each other were searching for their soul mate. I stopped searching almost nine years ago for my other half, because I found my soul mate within Stephen. I will always remain grateful for that.
So here I am, sitting in my apartment, in the same city where I first realized that I was in love with Stephen, talking about the beginning to our story. How could it get more beautiful than that?