October 30, 2007 was the first time I saw him, this scruffy looking fella in a red North Face jacket sitting across from me in a dim little restaurant called Riddles. My night/week/month/year was not off to a good start as I was questioning my decision to pass up a dream job in upstate New York and was working through the loss of my grandmother and return of my father. It was obvious to me that I was in no position for welcoming anyone else into my life, yet there he was, a guy I had never seen before, but who was there to celebrate the birthday of a shared friend. We didn't cross paths again until New Years Eve and by then I was still working through my troubles, showing up on my bike to a friends party already three beers in and with a case of pbr in my backpack, continuing on to dialing up someone else's number at midnight. I was very much aware of him, but not in a state to really feel it mattered or that anything would come of it.
Waking up to a new year I dug deep into myself and found more stable footing. I began working on myself with trips to the gym to chase down endorphins, making myself branch out through meet-ups and dates, and doing some good old fashioned soul searching. Looking back now I can see how this was all preparing me for welcoming this wonderful man into my life. Without that work and preparation there is no way I would have let him in, but because of it, I was made ready.
He started popping up here and there and started becoming a fixture at dollar pbr night that my friends and I frequented at a little middle eastern place called Saleems. I quickly became smitten and once when he didn't come due to illness I snagged his number from a friend and sent a concerned, yet flirty text message his way, saving his number into my phone as Eric Cute-Pants, as it still remains. From there things moved rather quickly, and while we never dated in a typical fashion, we began spending more time together. One of the first times we spent any one-on-one time together, E accompanied me to a grocery store, and looking back that's where he said he fell for me - those must be some impressive food picking skills I possess. We talked early of a life spent together and connected on our love of nature, of animals, and outdoor adventures, later finding all of the connections that ran deeper and which really keep two people together.
We quickly became attached and made things official on March 10, 2008. In June my lease was running out and E owned a house with his brother (the home we now own and share today) so we decided on my moving in with him even though we had only been together a few months. There were rocky patches and near collapses as we both moved through our past and worked toward our future, but over time we found our rhythm and our balance in each other and on Sunday I will marry that fella in the red North Face jacket, the one who was only wishful thinking that day over four years ago, but is now my reality.