19 August 2013

When It's Time

I've debated what to say in this post, and I've debated what to call it. It could have been called a great many things, but this is the most fitting title for the content...I think. Just sayin'.*

Back in May 2012, I took a new position at work that took me down a few floors from the lofty 7th floor where all the executives work. I was moved to the 4th floor, and the linguistic jokes would not stop. Needless to say, the elevator ride was always fun for me.

But what I didn't ever expect to happen was that this move, this one inconsequential decision in my life would bring about an even bigger change.

On May 22, I received a message on my work IM:
Hey Noel. My name is Ben and I am the really loud guy who sits over by the window behind you. I wasn't sure if you have moved into that desk permanently or not but wanted to at least introduce myself and I hope we are not too loud for you :)
We had a very formal conversation that day, that led to a very good work friendship.

Then tragedy struck. </sarcasm> He started dating someone else, because (as he likes to tell me) I was moving away to school, so this is my fault. As we were friends, I was really happy for him, and left for Baltimore and started school.

Fast forward to January 2013, and we started talking again. What started as a few short conversations on occasion quickly grew into talking every day. It was perfect: he was 2000 miles away and a good friend to have around. And the reverse was true for him. Nothing could happen. We were safe. Neither of us was looking for anything, and neither of us would do the long distance thing. Completely safe for us to be "just friends." Win!

Then every day during work slowly became all day, every day.

Then we started talking on the phone...about everything. He was fast becoming my best friend. The one person I could talk to about everything; a place where I felt safe to be me. We started talking about the possibility of something; of seeing where this friendship could actually go...

Sitting looking at the harbor.
On March 20, he flew out to see me and to see if this could be something. And it was. It was the most natural changing from friendship to relationship that ever has happened. It was so easy.

Walking through Patterson Park
We spent four days together, and didn't want to kill each other at the end. I'll call that a vacation/relationship win. I even told my parents about us...sorry, Mom and Dad, Cynthia knew the whole time...and Kristie knew for most of it...I regret nothing. ;)

I had been keeping this on the DL, I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I wanted to keep it between Ben and me. Until we were ready to talk about it. It was one of the things I loved most about us, we weren't trying to show off and be on display. We just wanted to be us, no interference from anyone else. Those who did know about us, weren't allowed to give advice. They just knew so that we had people to talk to.

We made plans for May, and went back to our real lives. Then work flew me out in April and we got a bonus visit.

First boy to buy me flowers.
There's not much to say about April. We hung out, went to see a friend in a musical...

Ben often looks unamused while I'm
laughing about what I just did/said to him.
Oh, except that this is when we finally decided it was time. (Don't click if you don't like sappy over shares, you've been warned.) And...I met his parents...he met Marney and Eloy (and survived!) and most of my friends. That bit was all stressful, but we made it through.

May rolled around and he flew out to go see American Idiot: The Musical with me. Can I get a best boyfriend ever?!

No, we did not plan to match my umbrella.
It's a thing that just happened.
There was also a color run and much mayhem to be had. These trips really are quite boring, we just hang out...eat...hang out...walk around...boring.

And a comic book museum, because why not?
Oh, there was a side trip to the temple, because what self-respecting 'Mormon' couple could refuse a chance to do something just. so. Mormon?! We certainly couldn't.

Yep, we became that couple.
I may have lied about how 'boring' this trip was. As evidenced by the picture below. I mean, seriously, TSA has nothing on this guy...

Being frisked by a stone policeman:
Makes everyone uncomfortable.
My cousin Gideon done went and got himself a high school 'ploma and so I had to go to Boise and celebrate.
Girls, he's single. But...
Going on a mission to Ghana...
2 years is nothing to wait.
Which was reason enough for Ben to drive up and meet my family. An entire weekend with my crew, and he still stuck with me. I don't know what else I could have done to scare him off.

At least he's smiling while unamused in this one.
I have to be honest, showing him around where I grew up was sort of fun. We did our quintessential walk along a water way...by walking the Green Belt. I even showed him the Boise Train Depot.

Love this place.
Once again work made it possible for me to be in Utah, so I flew in early to celebrate the 4th of July with him.

Best 4th of July ever.
When Ben left Boise, we both knew that what we had was different and special. We had started talking about the possibility of getting engaged, and I had been a girl and looked at a few ring options...found the one shown above and told Ben it was what I wanted. Like a good boyfriend, he listened and followed through.

Partied with Angie and Brady's family.
Brady and Angie always go to a barbecue at her uncle's house, and I have tagged along the last couple of years. I was really glad that I got to go again this year; I had actually been lamenting that I couldn't be there this year...and then work came through for the win. :) Ben got to come along as well, since his family is a little less celebratory than mine is on this holiday. After the barbecue we headed down to Riverton for the fireworks. It was a very good day, to say the least.

The next day, Ben and I partied it up at Lagoon together, and then drove down to Scofield, UT. Yeah, it's okay...I had no idea this place existed either. Take a minute to google if you want. I'll wait.


Ben is part of this rag-tag ensemble that gets together to play for Scofield's yearly Pleasant Valley Days celebration. I just happened to tag along. First up was a breakfast (not a place you would leave hungry) and a parade.

Waiting for the parade to start.
Ben's country is showing. <sigh>
The rest of the day was pretty lazy, we just hung out with his friends and wandered the very small town together. Everyone was really nice, and the whole thing was quite fun. Saturday night was the "main event" where Ben's little group played for 3 hours.**

The group. Scott sort of head's the whole thing.
No, literally the whole thing. The entire event.

I picked that shirt for him.
It was fun to get to just dance with his friends and have a good time. I haven't danced like that since the YSA dances that my brother-in-law used to DJ. We were just as spazzy, and had just as much fun.

After Scofield, I got to do the whole "meeting his kids" thing. I'm not sure how I managed to come out of that without a picture of all of us, but that's a thing that happened. Weird. We'll rectify that....Ben may have a photo that he hasn't shared with me...

No me in this, but two boys...so win!
I also did that "meeting the whole family" thing. I have to say, a barbecue at his parent's house is much easier to handle than an entire weekend. So I can be glad of that. Seriously, though, his family is super nice and his kids are super cute. I think I may like being part of this family. :)

Finally, Ben was here this weekend. And how cool is it that my ward decided to celebrate Ben coming by having Mormon night at the Orioles?! I know, it's like the Universe wants us together. Always finding reasons to celebrate us.

To say we were made for each other would be a bit of an understatement:

Sometimes, it's a bit scary how much we are alike. Haha. In all seriousness, we really do compliment each other well. We don't love all the same things, or anything, but we both can appreciate each other's interests. We're both familiar with the likes/interests of the other's enough to not dread having to do something "they like to do." Which is nice.

What weekend would be complete without one of my polyamorous dates? So my girls came along to the game with me, and I guess you could say Ben had a polygadate. Yep, that's a thing. For the record, I made Kalua pork with coconut rice. Yum. I feed my loves well. ;)

Polygadate: you're doing it right.
Notice the white shirts and ties in the background? Those three boys behind the person in orange are the missionaries for my ward. Funny kids there. They made me promise to introduce them to Ben on Sunday, and then they tracked us down after Sacrament to do just that. One of them keeps asking me details about the whole thing so that he can be prepared for when he gets back to Utah. Haha. Kid, I'm the wrong person to ask for dating/marriage advice!!

Jenni was nice enough to take several photos for us.
Ben was very particular.
On Saturday we headed into the District so that I could check one more of Ben's siblings off my list of "people to meet." Again, his family was super nice to me. I was even asked by my super cute soon-to-be niece if they could just call me Aunt Noël. Hey, I like being called that, so why not?!

Got to love having someone to sleep on
while on the Metro.
I love having Ben visit me in Baltimore. This city has become such a huge part of my life; it healed my soul when I left Utah and all the problems that were there. I love sharing this place with him and all the beautiful, quirky, strange, wonderful things that are here.

Ben likes to 'edit' photos. :)
I let him.
I definitely love being able to run along this harbor, so getting to take Ben to see some of my favorite places on my run was a huge plus today. I know everyone out there is super jealous that I get to run along water, and cobblestone roads. Yep. You are. Don't deny it.

Gratuitous "I'm in love" photo.
I couldn't have asked for a better person. I honestly couldn't. The long distance thing sucks more than you will ever understand, but it's all going to be worth it in the end, because he is the cheese to my macaroni.

And there was a very happy Willow Cat.


* I think Andee will understand what this means. ;)

** I'm saying most of the stuff about the "band" as tongue-in-cheek...because it's really the funniest thing ever. They only get together for this event, and sort of throw it together last minute. Which works out great, since they're all very talented individuals. It's really quite amazing of them. I believe they're called "The Specialists" which is sort of awesome.