nathan and natalie circa 2012
Three years ago I was finishing up two summer courses at the University and I was in the beginning stages of packing up my apartment so I could move back north to start my student teaching. It honestly feels as if that was a lifetime ago. As if maybe I was even a completely different person. Three years sounds so long and so short all at the same time.
Three years ago I was palling around all over the place with Felisa and we were basically inseparable. We started inviting this Nathan kid to come hang out with us when we would go places and do things. Little by little it started to be just me and Nathan doing things. Felisa would have to work. Felisa was in Washington. Felisa had to be here or there or somewhere without us. And the more time it was just him and me the more I got this case of the feels for him.
I had been single for the last semester of my schooling, having broken up with Jordan in January. I had been doing a really good job of remaining that way as well. After all, come June 22nd I would be moving north anyway and who wants to be in a long distance relationship, am I right? But then, there was this boy and I just didn't know what to do about anything at all.
My best case scenario for Nathan and I was a short lived summer romance that would end once school had started back up for him and I threw myself into my student teaching. We would have the best intentions, but, inevitably, things would slowly drift apart and we would float off in our opposite directions neither one worse for the wear. My worst case scenario was that it would be a short lived summer romance where towards the end of it we would argue and fight and spew words of hate towards each other and never interact ever again. Not really that I pictured that one coming, given our dispositions and personalities, but stranger things have happened.
And by stranger things I mean the events that actually transpired. Because even in my wildest dreams I never anticipated the real world situations that would unfold as Nathan and I embarked on this journey together.
We were both so noncommittal in the beginning, so unwilling to call our relationship what it was. It was the other people that started referring to me as Nathan's girlfriend and he never corrected them or made any remarks about it, so we just kind of kept doing our thing. I would come back down for the weekend all summer long and then on into the school year. Each time I was a little less willing to leave him on Monday morning. Each time it tugged harder at my heart strings to say goodbye.
And then one January weekend I had to say goodbye in a way that I hadn't really anticipated except for that I had. One January weekend Nathan called our relationship off and I drove back north crying in my car because obviously this was meant to happen. We couldn't go on doing this song and dance forever. I kicked myself for even starting the relationship anyway because I just knew this was how it was going to end.
February came along and I made it through Valentine's Day without smashing anyone's teeth in and I had about convinced myself to finally pick up all the pieces, close the door, and move on forever. I had to remind myself that I couldn't live in the past forever. I couldn't keep dwelling on this failed relationship because I didn't want to mope and wallow for months and months the way I had done when PC and I broke up. But, to my surprise, Nathan didn't let me walk away and move on and forget all about it.
Instead he drove up from Moscow through a snowstorm to be with me and prove that this was really what he wanted. He stayed up for the weekend and we talked and we had fun and we remembered what it was like to be together and we just kind of decided to see where this was going to take us.
So now here we are, three years in. I had never pictured it in those very first days. I didn't believe we'd ever get here. But then, I also shouldn't be surprised that it happened because of just how well Nathan and I fit together. We make an incredible team.
He has strengths where I have weaknesses and I have strengths where he falls short. We are both weird in the comfortable silence we can share with each other. Neither one of us is afraid to be ourselves around the other. He lets me vent and cry and laugh and yell and be loud. He reminds me to calm down or be quiet. He keeps me moving, improving, reaching for goals. He pushes me to do the things I say I am going to do instead of letting me just be lazy on the couch in front of Netflix shows. But he also knows when to let me relax and be lazy on the couch in front of the Netflix shows.
The other day he was sitting on his office chair in front of his computer and he pulled me over onto his lap. At first I didn't want to. The chair wasn't big enough for the both of us. I have a bony butt. It would be uncomfortable for both of us. But he insisted. And I obliged.
At first it was uncomfortable. I was sliding off the chair, we both had to maneuver a little bit to get to a place where it worked for both of us. We played a game on the computer, he controlled the mouse and I pushed the buttons on the keyboard. Soon I forgot that I had been uncomfortable. Soon it wasn't as if we were two people, but instead like we had melded together. I don't know how weird that sounds, but just it was such a simple thing for me to have my back against his stomach, my head leaning against his chest, both focused on the task at hand. In that fleeting moment I realized that I have never been this comfortable around another human being before. It was as if I just belonged in that place, right next to him, perfectly filling the space between his arms. I never wanted to move from it.
I won't try to convince you that our relationship is perfect. And I'm not so high and mighty as to say that we never get on each other's nerves. Nathan and I have faced some pretty tough times as a couple and we've worked through some pretty big issues together in order to get to where we are today. But honestly, during these last three years I'm glad he was the one by my side ready to help me take on the world. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with.
So cheers to the last three years and may there be many, many more to follow. I'm so glad you caught me, Nathan.
nathan and natalie circa the present