I have no idea where to start with this post. All I know is that I woke up this morning next to Shelton, saw him off to work as I stayed curled up in bed, drank two cups of coffee while blasting my Dixie Chicks Pandora station, cleaned the apartment, and then sat down for a moment to update our Ongoing Calendar. I sat on the couch, and felt an overwhelming sense of joy. “This is my life,” I thought to myself. “I love this space so much.”
As I noted fun memories we’ve made over the past month, I was reminded of 2012 memories from this time last year, when things were still very much up in the air. And I couldn’t ignore the supreme sense of pride that I felt–am feeling. To say that I have come far over the past year, is so much of an understatement that it almost makes me laugh.
Distance. Sometimes the ground we cover is geographical, sometimes it’s purely mental. When I think of the distance I have traveled over the past year, I know that for me, it’s both. And my heart swells, and my eyes burn, and I feel a knot in my throat, because I am so completely immersed in the joy that I am experiencing that I am literally drowning in it. Everything I love about this life, I gave to myself. The level of gratitude that I feel is so deep, I can hardly comprehend it. I just feel it. Every single day.
On August 7, 2012, when I decided to move to North Carolina to be with Shelton, I altered my path in the biggest way to date. From the moment Shelton and I became partners in this life, I inherently knew that we were building something–something bigger than ourselves, something I didn’t yet understand. But when he got in that U-haul on August 1, 2012, I knew that life would be on hold until we were together again.
I can’t explain to you how much I love him. How much my soul feels 100% in line with his. How when I look at him, I see myself. How I never thought I deserved this level of happiness, but now that I have found it, it’s the most important thing in my world. This connection we share makes everything in life sparkle. And what’s really crazy, is that it just gets stronger every single day. I don’t know how that is possible, but it is.
Moving to North Carolina was a huge risk for us both, a choice that we knew would affect us individually and as a couple. The hard decisions didn’t stop once I arrived in Greenville. Life continued to test us. There have been hard lessons, days where we were pushed to our limits, and many moments where we had to take a step (or three) back and regroup. It has not all been easy. When I look back at everything we have accomplished in the past year though, I am so thankful for all those moments of growth. Because every single time we came out on top, together.
I tell everyone that I could not do this without Shelton by my side, and when I say “do this” I mean The Everyday. I am a strong person, I have no doubt about that. Shelton is incredibly strong, too. I do not question our ability to withstand difficult things. We are good at that. But operating through the daily trials and tribulations of life with strength and also being able to continually experience joy and practice gratitude are not things that are easy to do simultaneously. Having someone in your life on a daily basis who loves you unconditionally, who supports your journey with enthusiasm and admiration, makes it easy. The love that Shelton and I share is the most liberating thing I have ever experienced. It doesn’t matter where we are, what our jobs are, how nice our apartment is, how much money we have, none of that matters. Waking up next to him every day is just like winning the lottery over and over again.
I love our story. I revel in it daily. We have written some pretty interesting chapters. The birthplace of our union was more of a battlefield than the cookie cutter “boy meets girl” scenario and from early on, we have had an unspoken understanding of how we wanted to experience life and that is to the fullest. That has been and continues to be the ultimate goal.
We live fully by taking on obstacles headfirst, as a team.
We celebrate often, and with great vigor.
We vocalize our appreciation for one another, our feelings, our goals, our whole selves on a daily basis.
When we need strength, we turn to each other. We do not build walls or wear armor, deflect or neglect.
That’s our creed. It’s how we live, and it’s how we have done everything we have and how we will do everything moving forward. We are deep into what I like to call “The North Carolina Chapter” and though I have no idea how it will end, I know that everything in the middle will be spectacular.
In honor of Year 1 in North Carolina, here are some of my favorite posts that have been published over the past year. The early ones are fun to go back and read, mostly because I feel like a completely different person now. I love how much I have grown.
The Past Three Days — I talk about what it was like the day that Shelton left Texas. Spoiler: It’s sad.
Jump Like You Mean It — One of my all time favorite posts. The moment I decided to move to North Carolina.
What I Love About Greenville — Nothing compares to those first few weeks of discovery.
Hello, Raleigh — Our first day trip to the Capitol.
A Perfect Night — Written by Shelton! He recounts a night we spent at a local coffee shop.
Turning Twenty-Fabulous — Shelton surprises me in a HUGE way for my 25th birthday.
Pitt County Fair — Spoiler: It involves one very sinister funnel cake.
Birds On A Wire: Thanksgiving 2012 — Mom and Janie come visit! Incredible memories are made.
Saturday Adventures — We explore Downtown Greenville and find metal livestock.
Raven Rocking & Rolling — We venture to Raven Rock State Park and hike, hike, hike!
In Which a BBQ Sandwich Changes My Life — North Carolina Pulled Pork at its finest.
I hope the next year is just as mind blowingly awesome and eye opening.