It was the summer of 1998 in Florida. I was 24 years old, had just graduated with my MSW, and I was dating someone – nothing too serious. One evening, John, (who I had heard and known about since we were 14, but never met), came to my boyfriend’s house with his beautiful Golden Retriever named Terrapin.
The crush was instant. He was so kind, sooooo laid back. One thing I immediately noticed about him was that he asked really thoughtful questions, his attention and interest sincere. Sadly, we were both in relationships. It wasn’t the right time.
Fast forward to April 1999. I’m finishing up my first year as an MSW at the local hospital (I worked on the Infection Disease Unit) with plans to move to the Pacific Northwest that summer. John was working at the same hospital (ER nurse), getting ready to graduate with his BSN. Although we worked at the same hospital, it was rare to run into one another. One time I ran into him at the coffee cart and my heart dropped with nervous, butterfly energy.
By this time, I was single again and spending the afternoon at my friend Josh’s house when the phone rang (an actual landline!) and I answered it. It was John on the other end of the line calling to see if Josh wanted to grab lunch. I was invited, too, and the three of us headed up to lunch at the local bistro. I can remember exactly what I was wearing: cropped skinny jeans that zipped on the side, a white collared sleeveless shirt, and some wedge sandals (I went through a tiny preppy phase).
Over lunch, after learning that he was single, too, I casually invited him to come to a concert with me that evening – nothing crazy, just a local band at a local pub. He said yes. He said yes!!!
And the rest is history.
We fell in love. Everything that was wrong or hard or annoying in my life simply disappeared. I was high on love. I remember walking the halls of the hospital with my intensely stressful job with a huge smile on my face and not a care in the world. I was in love. Nothing else mattered. I had never felt anything like that before. I remember thinking, “I want everyone I know to feel this kind of love.”
About 12 weeks after meeting and without ever having been to the Pacific Northwest, John moved with me to Portland from Florida. We took several weeks, traveling across the country to get there, camping and adventuring along the way. When we landed in Portland that summer of 1999, we began to build our life together. We’ve never looked back.
Have there been years of uncertainty? Yes. Have we worked really hard on our marriage. Hell yes. I’m so proud of us. So proud of both of us for being willing to do the work to keep that spark and fire alive.
And now here we are, 46 ad 47 years old. With an 11-year-old named True. Life is precious. Messy at times. But always beautiful.
Big love, Kelly Rae