1, 2, 3.

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A group picture taken the same day of our first date, at a going away party for a mutual friend at the SAME restaurant! Look at how tan I was. Sigh.

Brandon and I went on our first date exactly three years ago, today. He picked me up from my dorm room my Junior year of college, and took me to Legends Diner for a malt and fries. Coincidentally, I was getting over a bad cold and had almost no voice. The first thing I croaked in the car when he picked me up was, “Look, I can breathe!,” subsequently breathing in through my once-majorly-congested-nostrils to reveal that only one, indeed, had cleared up. How many of you can say you straight up snorted on a date? Clearly I was putting on all the moves. Smooth, Sal. Real smooth.

Our first date was better than both of us imagined, froggy voice and all. I think it was kind of shocking how much fun we both had (I’ll speak for myself on this one, but I have a hunch he had a good time, too). We went on another date the day after, another one the day after that, and then another…. We were “dating” officially (whatever that means) by the end of that week. It was the most natural, and the most fun thing to spend time with Brandon, and I couldn’t believe a relationship could start so simply, without drama, without hesitancy, just peaceful.

One minor hitch in the plan was the fact that only a month after we started dating, Brandon would be leaving the country for an entire year. He had taken a job (before we became an item) in the remote country of Bhutan, as an accountant for a resort that had recently opened up. Him and one of his good friends had decided to go there for a year, possibly longer, to be a part of the foundations of this hotel.

One whole year apart, after only dating for a month before, and no visits in between meant a lot of Skype, emails, and patience.

I can’t tell you how many hours we logged on Skype… where I would wake up at the crack of dawn California time, just as Brandon was finishing up his day over there. While it was an absolute bummer that he wasn’t here during that time, we both agree that the year was still good. One full of growth, lots of communication, and getting to know one another in a way so unlike any other.

I won’t lie, I was counting down the days until he would be back…. I started counting down the days the first week he was gone, to tell you the truth.

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When I picked him up from the airport after his year abroad! The sign says, “Finally!”… fitting.

The day I picked him up from the airport, I was so nervous! I kept thinking, “What if he forgot what I looked like?” (dumb since we had been Skyping the whole time) “What if we don’t get along?” “What if we run out of things to say?”

All of that stressing was so pointless, however, and as soon as I saw him, there was that peace again.

The year apart helped us to cherish the little things: holding hands, same time zones, living life together.

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Long story short, we both knew where things were going, felt such confidence in our relationship, and knew there was something special. Brandon proposed in March, 6 months after he got back from Bhutan. 4 months after that, we were married!

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Life is better with him. He is calm, when I can be crazy, funny, patient, generous, and consistent.

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We’re best friends, study partners, running buddies, and old geezers.

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Who would have thought that a casual malt and fries date 3 years ago would turn into one of the very best things that has happened to me?

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