One of things that got a little overlooked this year on the blog was something super huge- Ryan moved to Atlanta!
Poor guy had two weeks before we were locked inside, haha! Ry followed me down here to be a police officer in a town outside of Atlanta, and I’m so glad we had a chance to celebrate before everything went crazy in the world.
I wanted to introduce him to y’all and share our story- we’ve been dating for almost four years, and I feel like I am the luckiest girl in the world to have found him. He’s the most thoughtful, kindest, and funniest guy I know. I swear he can make me laugh
even especially when I don’t want to.
Our relationship seems to revolve around two things: church and summer. When I think back to when we first started dating, I swear I can still smell the chlorine and taste the cherry snowballs.
I actually don’t remember the first time I met Ryan, because I knew him growing up. Our families went to the same church- he and my sister were confirmed together. His family actually sat right behind us in church! I remember standing in the choir loft and looking over to see he was there at church on Sunday mornings…when I was 13, all I could think was he was “the cute guy” that would be behind my parents!
Fast forward to the end of high school….Ryan was the manager at the local pool in our town. I actually had a pool in my backyard, but would visit my friends who were lifeguards at the pool. Ryan and I actually took a picture the day before I left for my freshman year of college. We didn’t recognize each other from church- it had been a long time since we had seen each other.
The real story, however, starts the following summer, in July of 2016, when my same friends at the pool and I were texting. I had sworn off boys for the summer as I focused on my health and recovery from a car accident. I had no plans of dating! Isn’t that always how it happens? You find someone when you’re not looking!
I texted a friend in the group, and she sent a picture of Ry, who was standing next to her. (I can’t believe I responded to that after seeing that picture!).
I was with my mom at the time, at our pool, and showed her what my friend had sent back as a joke. She recognized Ryan from church and told me who he was…and I realized it was “the cute guy” from all those years ago! I took Ryan’s number and he started texting me.
I wasn’t kidding when I say I was focused on myself….Ry likes to give me grief that I forgot to text him back for a full day. We exchanged five or so texts and then I literally texted him back the following afternoon. Whoops!
We went on our first date two days later to see the new Bourne movie and get dinner at Coco Lane, a classic D.C. restaurant. I remember my mom pulling out the church directory to stalk him minutes before he came to the door, haha!
We had dinner before the movie and I was so nervous I ordered a caprese salad…and was mortified when I realized it was four tomato slices, not a full salad. I didn’t say anything- I literally just sat and ate them while Ryan had a full crab cake meal.
The date was really sweet- I remember walking around after the movie and Ry kissing me in the pouring rain under our umbrella (it was torrential that night). We stood outside the theater until the rain stopped because we didn’t want to drive home in it and talked and talked and talked.
After he dropped me off at my house, I told him to have fun going back to Maryland for college and to enjoy his trip (he was leaving for vacation in a few days). In hindsight I think he was a little hurt that I wasn’t all about date number 2, haha. I had so much fun, but I was really focused on my health- things weren’t going really well for me at that point, I was in a ton of pain, and I spent all my time at doctors. I was really apprehensive about getting involved in a relationship when everything was pretty rocky for me…what kind of guy would want to stick around for that?
Ryan didn’t feel the same way at all. He has since told me that he got home from our first date, and his parents asked how it was. His response was, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
We went to Rita’s the next day before he left on his trip, and met up with my friends after. I still wasn’t sure about dating him, but seeing him with my friends and hearing their reactions definitely pushed me towards it. He went on vacation the next day, and texted me the whole time. He was sweet, thoughtful, and funny, it was nice to talk to someone that knew my friends, my church, my childhood, almost. He likes to joke that he fully tied me down when he managed to have flowers delivered to my house for my 19th birthday, which was while he was on his trip. It was one of the sweetest things- especially considering we had only been on two dates!
When he got back, I wanted to go to the fair, which always fell on my birthday week (fun fact, I first went to the fair when I was 2 days old). I wasn’t really sure about going, though, because I wasn’t allowed to ride any of the rides due to my health. I wasn’t sure if it would be more painful to miss it, or to go and not ride any rides. Ultimately, we decided to go.
We had the best time. I’m so glad we went. Ryan found every way to make sure I could have fun- we got deep fried oreos and walked around the 4H exhibits, and he danced with me to the band. I can still picture us riding the ferris wheel (with doctor’s approval) and him asking me out, for real, in line. I swear I was already in love with him by then. That night was one of the best nights of my life.
The rest of the summer was just like that night- Ryan taking something that could’ve been so hard or awful for me, and turning into something fun. We spent every spare second of that summer together- he would take me to my appointments, sit with me by the pool, and in the evenings we would go out- dinner, Annapolis, D.C., driving around and looking for sunflowers, or getting a snowball. (All those classic Maryland things!)
I think about that summer now, and realize what a gift it really was- that awful summer, filled with daily doctor appointments, painful treatments, and tons of medications, became the summer I fell in love. He did that for me, and brought me so much joy in the midst of such a painful year.
Ryan has continued to do that- that summer of treatment became another 3 years, unfortunately, as my health slowly recovered. He has stood by me every step of the way, being there without fail. What I had been so afraid of when we first met was him backing away when he realized how bad my health was, and he proved me wrong every single day after that.
He told me he first loved me just ten days after our first date. We were at a Train concert, and Andy Grammar had just started the opening set. We were sitting on our blanket in bare feet, laughing because our pastor had just walked by and was shocked to see that we were dating (what are the chances that two people that met at church run into their pastor on a date?!). Ryan turned to me and whispered that he loved me, and the group of women sitting behind us heard and “oohed”. (I think it was obvious from my reaction that it was the first time he had ever said it!)
I never would’ve thought just ten days later I would have been in love with him- in fact I don’t think I would have believed myself if I had told me. But I fell for him so hard, so fast.
And now, almost four years later, he has moved down here to Atlanta for me. He graduated two years before me and was a police officer in D.C., purposefully staying close to home so he could follow me. I chose Atlanta, and he was here as soon as possible, living just ten minutes away (I don’t want to live together until we are married).
The funny thing is, it feels like we just started dating all over again. We’ve always been long distance- me in college at Delaware, him at Maryland and then in D.C. After that first summer, we only had short college breaks like the one when we met.
Now, we’re doing all these grown-up things- cooking dinner together, joining a new church, and going to happy hours. (Sometimes I swear it feels like we got married overnight!) But I also feel like I’m just getting to know him- we’ve never hung out and watched TV in sweatpants (because when you only see someone for a day or the weekend, we are not watching TV!), and I never realized that he’s really good at doing dishes and cleaning up after dinner (God bless).
We are both just discovering these little random things about each other- and it’s been such an adventure. And it feels like I’m getting to know him all over again, especially after our extra-long distance when I moved to Atlanta and he wasn’t here yet.
So there you have it, y’all- that is our story. But honestly, it’s just beginning, and I’m so excited for what is to come. Because this is the first time, almost four years later, that we are in the same place at the same time.
And I almost feel like I am falling in love with him all over again.