I promised myself when The Lady in My Life and I had made things official back in February, I wouldn't talk about our history much at all until we had at least hit six months together. I'm pretty superstitious about relationships, and I've been that way ever since high school. For the most part, anytime I've ever brought a girl home to meet my family or even mentioned dating someone to one or more people in my family, things tend to crumble shortly after sharing the news. This sequence of events has repeated itself many times over the years, and thus has made me really nervous about telling anyone in my family about my dating life.
That probably sounds pretty immature and childish of me and I can't really argue against it. I'm sure it was a sort of circular problem, meaning I somehow perpetuated the issue by continuing to think about it. In the case of my current relationship, I can honestly say that happiness trumps any anxiety over telling friends or family about my dating life. I'm happier now than I've probably ever been in any relationship I've ever had before. This past weekend marked six months since we made things official, so my superstitious side can finally sit down and shut up.
Our story dates back to 2001. Kim and I first met as coworkers that summer, and I was still an undergrad at the time. We gradually got to know one another over the course of the next several years as friends, leading up to when I had left that company after nearly five years. I finally moved on during my studies in grad school, and we had lost touch for a couple years before we had reconnected through Facebook.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I have to share some details over our time as coworkers. First, I drove Kim absolutely nuts when we had worked together. Her favorite way to describe me was the brother she never wanted, mostly because I found new and creative ways to get under her skin as much as possible. I wasn't ever mean-spirited about it (unless you want to count me saying she looked like a horse's ass when dressed up in an Eeyore costume); it was all in fun really.
I do have to share one good story that pretty much set a direction for our friendship for a long time before I can talk more about our dating relationship. The company for which we had worked had a point system for hourly employees to use for unpaid time off. These points would automatically renew every year on an employee's anniversary date, and any unused points didn't carry over to the next year at all. If I had leftover points by the time my anniversary date rolled around, they were gone.
On the eve of my first anniversary with the company, I had several points to burn and had to figure out a way to use as many as possible. At the time Kim was in charge of attendance and call outs, so anyone who called out of work had to go through her. I talked to my mom about it, and she said to make up a "family emergency" to use my time off as a long weekend. That sounded like a good idea to me, so I called into work and left a message for Kim that I would be out for a couple days. However, I had...embellished a bit on the family emergency. I said my grandmother in PA was in a minor car accident and was shaken up a bit from it. I cannot stress this point enough: this entire story was a bold-faced lie. My grandmother has never been in any car accident that I can remember, and I made up the entire thing just to get out of work for a couple days.
This lie was the kind of lie that sent people straight to hell, and was also bound to lead to bad karma for me. Kim was genuinely concerned about my grandmother and the rest of my family, and I BS'd my way through the story. When I came back to work a few days later, she asked how my grandmother was doing, and I told her she was fine after having a few days to get over it.
Fast forward to a year later. Kim and I were having lunch with a few coworkers, one of whom was someone I was dating at the time and knew the entire made up story about my grandmother. Kim happened to mention something about hating doing attendance in the past and dealing with people's lies about calling out of work for reasons like car trouble, sick kids, etc. My ex said something about grandmothers getting into car accidents too, and Kim immediately looked at me and (rightfully) chewed me out for making up the story. I had no leg to stand on since I was caught red-handed, and Kim has held that over my head ever since.
In spite of that story, Kim and I were friends for the rest of the time we had worked together. In 2006 I left that company to work elsewhere while I was in grad school, and I didn't talk much to Kim after that. By 2009 we had found each other on Facebook and relived some good stories from our days of working together. Of course we talked about the story involving my grandmother, but we got a good laugh out of it.
That summer was when I had moved to Virginia, and it was around then that Kim and I had spent enough time with each other that we had realized there was an attraction lying under the surface. I don't think either of us really knew what to do about those feelings at the time, but the spark was definitely mutual. In the end, we stayed friends, and we kept in touch regularly. In fact, Kim was a big help when my parents had briefly separated that fall even though she hadn't met anyone in my family at that time.
Over the next year or so, we had drifted apart again. It wasn't for any specific reason or anything, just that we had our individual lives to live. At the time, I had expected to be in Virginia for the long haul, despite coming back to Baltimore somewhat regularly to visit my friends and family. Still, it was tough to keep in touch for a while.
Finally after I moved back to Baltimore last year, Kim emailed me through Facebook to catch up. We hadn't spoken at that point in over a year, and I was really surprised and happy to hear from her. She always was The One Who Got Away From Me, so I was eager to see her again. We met up for happy hour, and all that attraction that we had from before came back all over again.
We spent a whole lot more time with each other this time around, and we built a really good connection with each other. At first though, we agreed that we'd only be friends since Kim was in the process of getting divorced. Gradually things changed a bit, and Kim was quicker to realize how good we'd be as a couple than I did. A lot quicker, actually.
I finally came to my senses one night in early February. I have to say, for several weeks leading up to that night I had really wanted to say something to Kim about my feelings for her. Trouble was, my own anxieties about being honest with my feelings really kept me from saying anything. One night after a really rough week at work, Kim and I went out to get some drinks for some relief. On the way home, I mustered up the guts to say how I really felt about her (the drinks helped quite a bit). We talked about it more the next day over breakfast, and I could tell Kim was really happy about it. I was excited too because Kim and I knew each other inside and out for years, and then we were on pace to deepen our relationship.
Our first official date as a couple was on Valentine's Day, and I made sure to make it special. We've been happy ever since, to the point that several of my friends have talked about getting sick over seeing how happy Kim and I are (I take those words as a compliment). Kim and I have the best of both worlds at hand; we're best friends and we're a couple.
I've learned over the years that timing is everything in relationships. That may sound like a cliche of sorts, and that might be a fair thing to say. However, there's truth to it. Kim and I could have really tried pursuing things when we had gotten close around the time I had moved to Virginia, but I don't think it would've worked then. My life was taking a new direction, and given the distance between us at that time, we wouldn't have been able to see each other often. Once I had moved back to Baltimore, the opportunity presented itself again, and we're both happier now for it I think. The future looks bright for the two of us, and that's just how we like it.
P.S. My grandmother is doing just fine to this day, by the way.