Today, I celebrate 3 years with a kind-hearted, wholesome man. It doesn’t feel like 3 years. The only possible way my brain is keeping track of the time is by the number of adventures we take. This relationship has been the time of my life. Prepare yourself for nostalgic memories because…well, because these memories are my favorite and he’s my favorite. Therefore, no explanation needed.
Josh and I first met at a leadership retreat for our church. Okay, “kind of” met. He sat next to me in Mass. It counts. Once the day ended, I was hoping that I would see him around again. I stalked around on Facebook (my ultimate creeper moment that my mother would be proud of) and figured out that he was going on the church hike the following weekend. The morning of the hike I woke up early and curled my hair and threw on a decent outfit. I mean, who hikes in jeans and does their hair?! Nobody. Unless you’re me. I dragged my roommate and our friend along with me under the pretense of “doing our bio lab project”.
My roommate and I were friends, too. During my ultimate creeper moment, I showed her a picture of Josh from his Facebook to show how gorgeous and perfect he was. When we got to the church, there were at least 20 other people going on the hike. Josh was chatting with a group of guys. My roommate saw him and greeted him with “Hey, Josh!” I thought I was going to pass out. It turned out that she had math with him like, I don’t know, five days out of the week and didn’t connect that he was the guy.
We talked the entire hike, but he never asked me for my number. A week later, I saw him again at a Wednesday night student Mass at church. During these times, there was a 30-min. mini-retreat activity that would prelude the Mass. This one required finding a partner. I looked at Josh, hoping not to come off as obvious, only to find he was already smiling at me. All the partners were guided by one of the mini-retreat leaders as we blessed each others eyes, ears, lips, hands, and feet. This is one of my favorite memories of us, even though it was a month before our relationship officially began. This time, he finally asked me for my number. We “un-officially” dated for about a month, which is casually known as courtship: the lost of art of not jumping into a relationship because you think the other person’s cute.
This is a photo that was taken Valentine’s Day of 2012. Yes, we look so young! I was 19 and he was 18, so, yes, very young. The day before (February 13th) is when he asked me to officially be his girlfriend. Of course, this didn’t go down without my sass. Not realizing what day it was, we were hanging out and I turned to him and asked, “Are you ever going to ask me to be your girlfriend?!” He was surprised because he wasn’t used to
the Italian burden of impatience so much forwardness. “Uh, yes, um, tomorrow with a picnic in the park. I’ve been practicing your favorite songs on my guitar.” Thus, here’s a photo of us at the picnic in the park. He did have his guitar and he did sing to me my favorite songs.
Valentine’s Day was also the same day that I officially had the pleasure of meeting his family: his mom, dad, and his little brother. They all lived in Tucson at the time, which was nice. They were some of the most welcoming people I knew and became like a second family for me.
One afternoon during the summer, while I was vacationing with my best friend on the central coast, I got a phone call from Josh that broke my heart. He told me that they were moving to New York in 6 weeks. At first, I thought he was kidding because New York was like another planet and there’s no way that he could be leaving to go all the way over there. Turns out, his father’s work was relocating them (again). Josh had called to end the relationship because he thought it would be unfair to keep me, but be so far away. I admire him for thinking of my happiness, but I knew I would not be happy. I told him, “Just give it one month. Long-distance is doable. Just one month and after a month, if it’s not working, we’ll be really honest and end it.”
For the following 6 weeks, I went back and forth between San Diego and Tucson multiple times. I would stay at my new apartment. I was in complete denial that him and his family were moving, even as I was helping them pack. I wanted him to stay. I wanted his family to stay. I didn’t want them to find a house in New York. It didn’t set in until they found the house. I was in San Diego when Josh told me that they found a house, about 2 weeks before the move. I held it together before then and put on a brave face to everyone like it was no big deal. I lost it at that point. When I called my best friend, I was sobbing so hard that I couldn’t even manage a “hello”. My best friend and I saw each other a lot that summer, which I’m grateful for because there’s no way I would’ve managed this without her. She saw my sadness and didn’t attempt to fix anything; just accepted it.
I knew that when I returned to school in August, there would be no Josh. There would not be the house off of Sunrise Dr. There would be no family or disgusting bulldog that slobbered all over me. Josh and I said our good-byes after I surprised him for his birthday. The next day, they were gone.
It was 3 long months before I saw him again for a week in September. There were many phone calls, Skype dates, letters, and care packages in between then. He flew into Phoenix and I drove up. I was so excited that I barely remember the drive up there. I spent the entire night before baking and cooking for him. That week was full of fun and laughter.
About a week before he came, I admitted to him that I couldn’t transfer to an east coast college. At this point, we thought it would be 3 years before we could physically be together again, so I was looking at transferring to the east coast. I decided I couldn’t. It would be too far away from my family, who had went through a lot over the last year. My grandparents’ health was on the decline and I didn’t want to be thousands of miles away if something went wrong. I told him this, choking through my tears, because I was so upset that I couldn’t uphold my end of the bargain. He was completely un-phased, “I know, that’s why I already contact the University of Arizona to re-register.” I was shocked and, then, I was over the moon.
He moved back to Tucson that November and we spent our winter break going on west coast adventures. It was his first time in California and it was exciting to show someone all the quirks of San Diego.
As the days, weeks, months and years went on, we’ve grown together and as individuals. We’ve seen the best and the worst of each other. Our moments of pride and our moments of shame. Life has given us some great times and some really rough times. The best part of it all is having my best friend by my side. He is one the most kind, compassionate, intelligent, and caring men that I know. I am forever blessed to have been graced with 3 years and I hope I am blessed with many, many more. So, here’s to the hard times, the great times, and the times to come. I am so excited for what the future holds for us.