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Four Years Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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Seven years ago, fate threw Rob and I together. A job opportunity for both of us brought us each back to our college, working together while trying to navigate the challenging road of life as a twenty-something. We had known each other for years but somehow finding each another again at this point in our lives brought us closer than we had ever been before. So much so that I felt more like myself when I was with him, like I could just be me and I knew that he would accept me no matter what. Within six months we were spending nearly all our free time together. We would go on long drives together, keep each other company if we had to work late and spent quite a bit of time at the local diner. Over time, we created almost a sort of verbal shorthand were we could look at each other across the table and start laughing, knowing what the other was thinking without saying a word. We must have driven all of our co-workers nuts. But we didn't care.

Before I knew it, Rob had become the first person I would call when something, anything, would happen. Good or bad, I knew he would be able to talk me through it because he understood me in a way no one ever had before. He would fully support me when I was right, challenge me when I was being stubborn, and point out when I wasn't trying as hard as he knew I could be. He saw more in me than even I had ever even known was there. He made me want to be a better person.

As ridiculous as it may sound, when Rob told me he had feelings for me I was completely caught off guard. And, in all honestly, a little upset about it at that time. I had never had a good track record of trying to transition from "guy friend" to "boyfriend" and this friendship was way too important to me to risk losing. Plus, he was such a nice guy and in the back of my mind, I didn't think I deserved someone so nice. So I bit the bullet and told him I didn't think it was a good idea for us to be anymore than friends. Rob being Rob, he respected what I had to say but did tell me that he thought I was making the wrong decision. Miraculously, we somehow managed to actually stay friends after that. It wasn't easy at first and there was definitely some awkwardness, but I think both of knew that this friendship was worth it.

In the months that followed, I did start to look at Rob in a different light. I noticed how bright blue his eyes are, the way his laugh made me smile, and how much I hated to be apart from him. Another five months rolled by and suddenly it was my birthday. We all went out to celebrate and after a night of drinking and dancing, I finally said something to Rob about my extremely confused feelings. Only, it probably wasn't what he wanted to hear. "If I had a brain, I would be with you," I told him. It was the truth. I knew he was perfect for me. Heck, in my opinion he was perfect in general. And I think that's what scared me. He was so nice, so good to me, that I knew that if we got together that would be it - we would be together forever. At 24 years old, that seemed like quite a commitment.

Two days later I left for a cruise with a few of my girl friends, not knowing that this trip would actually change my life. Seven days away with virtually no contact to the outside world gave me time to do a lot of thinking. And observing. The cruise was filled with guys. Guys with corny pick-up lines that had no interest in actually getting to know anyone. Guys who I watched trying to get other girls drunk. Guys who just plain didn't care. They were everywhere. Meanwhile, Rob was back in Connecticut feeding my fish, cleaning out my car and replacing the donut tire I had been driving around on for over a month. All without me asking him to do any of it. He did it because he cared.

And it was then I finally I realized just how stupid I was being. I was afraid of what, exactly? Being happy? Being with someone who I knew was completely crazy about me? Someone who, if I was completely honest with myself, I knew I was crazy about as well? Three days into that seven day cruise, I knew that I was meant to be with Rob. And I couldn't get home fast enough. I even talked my friends into taking an earlier flight home, knowing that Rob would be picking us up from the airport. Sitting on that airplane when we finally landed in LaGuardia, I stared at the "fasten your seatbelt" sign willing it to turn off so I could finally get off that plane and see Rob's face again. When Rob and I finally saw each other down in baggage claim, we looked at each other and didn't have to say a word. He knew that things were different. And I knew that I had finally grown a brain.

* * *

Four years ago today, we made the official commitment that we both knew was inevitable from the moment we got together, and maybe even before then. I could say that it was the best day of my life, but I know that every day, every year with Rob is an adventure that brings me places I never even knew was possible. The past four years have just been the beginning - the best is yet to come.

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