This is the story or SJ and I.
This is a picture taken on the day, we're sitting next to each other in the front row. I think that's called 'fate'.
I have to admit, I have no memory of him from that day. He remembers me, but I was one of only a handful of girls on the program, so that made it easier. Looking at this photo makes me laugh though, he was straight into the city from the country (his parent's cattle farm) the week before and was feeling a little out of place. I meanwhile, have since learnt that a centre-part and high neckline do nothing for my round face...we were also both a little 'rounder' then...
Over the next year or so, he ended up in my wider circle of friends (we weren't in the same course, but had plenty of connections through the program).
Other than that, I have to admit I didn't pay him much attention at all (the rugby shorts and ACDC shirts probably didn'th help). I was a girl in engineering, so there were more than a few single guys hanging around...and I ended up dating one or two of them.
Those relationships aren't particularly important now, only to say that my first serious boyfriend and I were together for a few years and broke up due to differences (he's Muslim, I'm not) and are still great friends to this day [I'll be attending his wedding is in May].
The other was a weird one, a bit of a blimp on my relationship history...but he was quite significant in the start of SJ and I. Through him, I saw more of SJ and got to know him well as a friend. He was also someone I spoke to a lot when 'that other guy' dumped me. It was all rather messy, so I shall leave him out of it and just tell you the important parts...
Most of the 'significant' moments in our story are connected to travel and/or photography. Having DSLR cameras really brought us together over the period of a year.
For me, my feelings towards him started on a 40 degree December day in Queensland in 2008. My best friend was up visiting from Canberra and wanted a trip packed full of adventures (we did all 4 major theme parks in 7 days!). I took her up the coast with SJ to climb Mount Tibrogargan. SJ's idea.
This is what part of the climb looked like. I am not sure I have ever sworn so much in my life. I hated SJ for suggesting it, I hated him for pushing me to do it. My best friend met him that day and hated him too. Most of all, I hated him for not letting me whinge about it, he basically told me to shut up and climb.
I realised that I could do stuff like this (climb mountains) and that I didn't have to be such a princess all the time. My hate towards SJ turned into instant respect. Here was a guy (the first guy) who saw me for who I could be and what I was capable of, who seemed to ignore the fact that I was a girl (rather refreshing in my industry) and just expected me to deal. I also assumed he wasn't attracted to me and I think our friendship deepened as a result of that...he tells me now though that he most definitely was, he just knew he needed something to set himself apart from the masses...
Early the next year, we travelled with two other friends (one being the good ex) through the Northern Territory for two weeks. I know that I flirted with him terribly during that time, yet I never felt that it mattered much, I didn't think he would be into a girl like me.
That trip gave us some amazing memories and a lot to look back on and analyse now we're together. He noticed my flirting but thought I was just that way with everyone. I wasn't, I swear! Part of why I assumed he wasn't into me was because I got no reaction out of him, I assumed I was too frivolous/girly/princessy/materialistic for someone so down to earth as he is. Guess not :-)
I did spend the whole two weeks walking/hiking/climbing determined not to whinge like I did that day at Tibrogargan. I wanted to prove I could handle it. Maybe it worked.
We talked more and more through the year (we're in 2009 still) and became more involved in each other's lives. Cameras and lenses were a big talking point and we organised 'photo days' with large groups of friends.
I have distinct flirting memories from this day. Possibly because he finally flirted back.
SJ was having a rough time with his PhD towards the end of the year, things weren't going as planned and he didn't have all the equipment he needed...and wouldn't be able to get it for months. As a result, he planned a few holidays to fill his time. Originally, I thought this was lucky for me, I had an upcoming trip to Perth planned with friends (the best friend and the good ex..and met other friends from Melbourne and Perth there) and he decided it would be a good time to drive out there himself (reasons behind that, had a family car that needed to make a one-way trip there).
Everyone photo I have reminds me of another little moment in our story.
Our last day in Perth we visited King's Park. The day didn't have much meaning to me, except that I knew I was getting on a plane and he was staying behind for longer. I didn't like that feeling. I knew at this stage I had feelings for him, but still didn't believe I was his sort of girl, he flirted with me on occasion but nothing serious...more like a brother (in a non creepy way of course).
Apparently the day in King's Park was a killer for him. He decided there that he was going to do something about 'us' and that we would happen. At some point.
He visited the weekend after he got back. And. Nothing. Happened. (Just thought I'd remind him of that in case he's snooping again :-P) Being a girl, I of course took this to mean Nothing. Will. Happen. You know how it is.
We're very late into the year now by the way, still talking a fair bit and organising his trip to Europe (in January 2010) and a short holiday to the Snowy Mountains between Christmas and New Year (with my best friend and the good ex...again).
...of each other taking photos it appears (side note: wow I was blonde then, maybe I should go back...also please ignore his ugly hat. I have tried to dispose of it but he won't let me).
New Year's Eve we spent in an apartment in Thredbo (just as well, it was raining...camping + rain + NYE = gross). To me, this was our point of no return. Nothing serious happened, but we just reached 'that' point.
The next week things escalated over email and we had an unofficial date. I say unofficial because I assumed it was a date and he didn't. Boys.
Here's the hard part, we only had that week. That Friday night SJ had a 'going away drinks' in the city, because he was off to Europe for 3 months on the Sunday.
I spent an awful lot of time with him over that weekend (Saturday being our first 'official' date with the above photo of the Story Bridge to match) and may not have made it home until close to lunch on Sunday. I knew then (and I have to admit it was also discussed) that I would marry this boy...we didn't consider ourselves officially 'together' though, seemed too complicated.
Then he left me.
For 3 months.
It was torture.
He did send me chocolates on Valentine's Day though, and we emailed almost every day.
He spent his time riding through a European Winter.
I spent mine working in an Australian Summer (picture taking during my work in South Western Queensland after their record floods in March 2010). I have to admit I managed trips to Townsville, Noosa and Melbourne in that period too (won't overload you with photos any more though).
We've been together ever since...though my move to Melbourne without him was hard for those few months I have to admit.
We also don't celebrate an anniversary. It's all a bit hard to work out what should be counted as official and what isn't. Annoys the heck out of my best friend though (she and her boyfriend got together in the December before the Snowy Mountain trip so there's a little competition there).
Valentine's Day is the only 'special' day we have. Last year we celebrated with a whole tub of Maggie Bear's Burnt Fig/Caramel/Honeycomb ice cream at the same Story Bridge spot as the picture earlier.
Yesterday evening we just had dinner at home (Lasagne as dilated by the 12wbt...) and he gave me an adorable hand made card. It included a photograph of a sunset we've shared and two little stick figures holding hands...
I am so in love.