A little over two years ago I moved to Blacksburg for graduate school. It was a scary time. I was late added to the program when they received some extra funding so I basically had two months to find a place to live, figure out how to get my stuff and I there, and buy a new car (which I was planning to do anyway, but moved up the timetable for the road trip to Blacksburg). This was my first time really moving away from home (I went to college an hour away from home). My mom came in the car up with me and flew back and I was so glad to have her there to help me make the transition.
For the three years prior to moving to Blacksburg, I lived in dorms. I went straight from undergrad to grad school, and was pretty overwhelmed by the transition to a more professional setting, a new location halfway across the country, and the amount of stuff I needed to buy in order to a functional person. When we arrived in Blackburg after a 22 hour drive (we went straight through), I had my personal belongings, two rooms and a bathroom in a house I was sharing with three other people, and a spare bed that one of my roommates had set up for me. For the next two days my mom and I shopped for bedroom furniture and shower curtains and drawer organizers and all of the other things that one has to buy when starting from the ground up. When I dropped my mom off at the airport I was so sad and nervous and alone, but also excited to start this new adventure.
Andy was the first person I met in Blacksburg. It was a brief, chance encounter on campus when he was going up to his office to work and I was getting all of my paperwork in order. My mom was with me. Andy was wearing some torn up old blue jeans and a t-shirt and a baseball cap. He recognized me from Facebook (everyone in the program had friended each other over the summer, and we had a group where we asked questions about moving and the program) and called out to me. We introduced ourselves to one another and when he told me his name I thought he looked a lot different than he did in his picture. Meeting people on the internet first is weird.
We hung out in a group once or twice and never really talked. He was a smoker and eight years older than me. He'd lived in New York and LA and worked for Lifetime and the BBC and I was 20 years old and just came up from undergrad and hated the smell of cigarette smoke. But then at a back to school party hosted by a faculty member at her home he caught my eye in a snazzy outfit of coral shorts and a button up shirt. Once we got to talking we didn't stop. We bonded over a love of karaoke and drinking bourbon, and after that I would find myself stopping in his office to chat any time I passed by and he was inside. We danced together at a group outting and we had a friend try to hook us up. Then one day we were chatting on Facebook and decided to meet up for a drink, just the two of us, casual like, and we stayed out talking and drinking late and I went to his place to sober up (it was right up the street from the bar) so I could drive home and we were sitting on his couch and he kissed me. The next day he called me up and wanted to know if I had any plans. I picked him up and he helped me pick out a desk chair. We dated tentatively for a short while and then one day, sitting on his couch, we decided to go all in. We changed our relationship statuses on Facebook and he quit smoking.
Andy quickly became my best friend. I have so many great friends back in Texas, but he was the person physically here who I could talk to. He made me feel safe and special and wanted. We seemed to click almost instantly. My roommate started dating an amazing woman and soon my house went from four people to three awesome couples. We had house dinners and fires in the back yard and had a really amazing time together. Andy and I went back and forth between my place and his, constantly packing bags of clothes and toiletries and cooking supplies. Fast forward a few months and we were both looking for new places to live for different reasons and we decided to look at places together. We found the house we live in now, loved it, signed the lease and never looked back.
We've been living together over a year now, and just celebrated our two year anniversary. We've decorated a home together, put in countless hours garagesaling and Craiglisting to find the perfect treasures for our home, clothing thrifted together, hosted parties together, cooked so much good food for each other, visited each other's families for Christmas, argued, hosted lots of guests, helped each other through stress and projects, bought plants together and had them thrive/die on us, read each other's fiction, taken classes together, learned so much from Pinterest, built up a recipe repertoire, learned each other's family drama, taken pictures, traveled a little, grown closer together, grown apart, shut each other out, had long, embarrassing talks, played cards, gone camping, been in it and through it all. We've learned so much from each other and about each other. We've had our ups and downs individually and together. We've struggled and grown stronger.
This has been a month of stress. Andy is still looking for work and I'm behind on my thesis. We don't know where we'll be in a year or what we'll be doing. We're in a time of flux and uncertainty, and that's tough on people and relationships. What I do know is that it's hard to imagine my life without him in it, and having him is a constant comfort to me. Early in our relationship we would tell each other often how grateful we were to have each other in our lives, and I like to think that now when we say I love you we mean that too, that that idea is in there. Here's to many more years to come.
Yours Truly, Jen
P.S. Andy's friend Carolyn took this photo of us together we when were in Chicago on Andy's birthday. Thanks Carolyn.