"I've seen the ugly parts of you, and I'm staying."
We met when we were just kids. Ten and twelve, I think. I was friends with his cousin and we both went to his uncle's church. We ran into each other periodically, yet not significantly until I was seventeen and just about to graduate high school. I was going with my sister-in-law to a church event, and she had invited her friend from work to come with us. We picked him up from some store parking lot and he immediately had my attention. He was waiting on the back of his open bed pick up truck reading a book. He had long, straight black hair, huge glasses without lenses, and piano-key belt worn upside down to keep up his already-tight-not-going-anywhere jeans. That night, we (truly randomly) ended up on the same team for a scavenger hunt the youth group was having, and I was so excited. I'm sure that we would have ended up connecting some other way even if we'd been put into different teams that night, but looking back... it's seriously mind boggling how that was essentially the beginning of it all, and that that moment would lead to everything up until this point.
Already I'm countless details short, but even so... trying to relay our last seven years in as many would be impossible. Maybe I'll write a book about it. Ultimately, we had a really bumpy ride. We were head over heels about each other during Chad and Bree: Part 1. But we were young and both had plenty of growing up to do in different ways, so after a year long relationship, we broke up. Over the next few years we would (often unsuccessfully) try different ways to be friends. We'd be fine at it for awhile, then it wouldn't work. We'd stop talking altogether for long stretches of time, then we'd run into each other or we'd have some reason to talk. Even over our four year intermission, we had constant appreciation for each other, for who we'd been for one another at one point in our lives. For as much as we could drive each other crazy, we valued and appreciated one another.
From the time we broke up, I was sure I was done. I just had it in my head that I would move forward and not backwards. I thought that chick-flicks were reality and that if he were mine to keep, sure, we'd have had one giant hurdle to overcome, but the rest of our happily-ever-after would be seamless and we'd have a simple and lovely story to tell. A story of unwavering assurance and confidence. One that didn't include any doubts and very few hardships. In fact, a little over a year and a half ago, when Chad and Bree: Part 2 came to be... Chad had to help me through to believing that our story was better, more beautiful than the mess I'd categorized it to be.
When I first started writing our story, I couldn't figure out how to express it in it's entirety. I would type, delete, type, delete... unsatisfied and unsure of how to say what I wanted to say, trying to choose between the short and sweet version or the literal novel I could easily end up with. In the end, the same thought kept coming to the forefront of my mind, and it may simply be the most important thing. I counted up the years I've known Chad and for the first time considered that he's been in my life in one way or another for fourteen years. For over half of my life.
And I can not imagine my life without him in it.
Our bumpy ride isn't over. In fact, it's just the beginning. But through the highs and lows, the good, the bad, the ugly, the sickness, the health, the times of abundance, the times of little, the celebrations, the struggles, the everything in between... I want fourteen more years. And another fourteen after that. And a few more after that.