Half My Life

Seventeen, half of 34, my age as of today (at 8:31am, my mom calls me every year at the time I was born). I’ve now officially been with Brian for half my life. Seventeen years ago a young Brian and I started this for life thing …

We officially started dating when I was just shy of 17 but we met when I was 15. I was staying the night at a friend’s house with a group of friends. Looking back, I’m hesitant to say I thought this was cool now as an adult and parent but, at 15 it was: her parents let us take the car out (all 15-year-olds?!) and we went to another friend’s house who was having a backyard party. The party was at a friend’s house who lived next door to one of Brian’s friends. We didn’t go to the same high school; he went to Jesuit, the all-boys school that was rumored to have hot guys worth snagging. (Spoiler, I snagged one.) Brian was there with his friends, I was there with my friends … we talked, exchanged numbers, made plans for the next day. He and I met up the next day and had a brief get together. But being non-driving 15- and 16-year-olds, and going to different high schools and living in different towns, it went nowhere.

Two years later I was cleaning out my bathroom drawer and found a piece of paper with a name and phone number. I called it; it was Brian. We talked every night for close to a month before I surprised him one Saturday night by walking into his work at a local coffee shop (pre-Starbucks everywhere days). He was set to get off work at midnight and asked if I wanted to go out after. I was staying the night at another friend’s house (and had flexibility to sneak out) so of course I said yes. We went to The Grad in Davis (hysterical considering that is so not the scene either of us were in to) but they were open, and it was something to do. He was quite the gentleman (and still is). This time it was on for good. We both were driving and had cars, and had freedom to see one another despite living in different towns and attending different high schools.

We continued talking on the phone every night (on old school landlines) and seeing each other regularly. He was graduating high school that year and heading off to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall; I had one more year of high school. I thought for sure he’d want to break up and live the single college life but he didn’t. He came home often his first year away (sometimes “sneaking” into town and staying in a hotel). And after I graduated high school, I used to go to SLO almost every weekend for two years before I left for Cal Poly (I went to college in Sacramento for two years). Despite really wanting to go to UCSB (dorms minutes from the beach!), I chose Cal Poly for a few reasons, Brian one of the main ones. We weren’t “allowed” to live together my first year down so we both rented studios across the hall from one another … we lived in mine, his was storage and a guest room for when friends came to visit. The next year we officially moved in together, adopted Worm and Mayah—and although we knew we were pretty much a forever thing—it was solidified.

Two years later, I was set to graduate, getting cut off and needing health insurance; Brian had since accepted a great full-time job with benefits. It seemed like a great time to get married (so romantic!). I don’t really like the number three (ironic, eh?) so I wanted to marry in an even year. 2002 it was. We were engaged in spring, planned the wedding in a week, and married on September 12, 2002. (I even picked my wedding gown easy: looked in one magazine, saw a dress I liked, went and tried it on, and that was that. My mom did suggest I try on a second just to be sure and indeed I was.) It was a low-key wedding on a Thursday afternoon, on a cliff in Pismo Beach overlooking the ocean.

I graduated, Brian worked, we thought we should move back to Sacramento. I still am not sure why we thought we should but we did, briefly. Then we were back in SLO both working full-time and just living life happily. He had continued working for the same company, just remotely while we were back in Sacramento. I did a brief stint at a weekly Sacramento paper designing the classifieds, including my “porn work” (in that I designed porn and strip club ads with hot gay guys and sexy topless women, back in the One Night In Paris days). It was an awesome job for the environment and variety of work. But it wasn’t a career, and having always kept an eye on jobs in SLO (which are hard to come by if you want to actually make a living and work full-time) I saw a posting for a Proposal Specialist. I knew a little about proposals from Brian’s dad’s work at the time, and I knew a little about architecture since I went to Cal Poly (known architecture school, side note: when I started working in Seattle, I worked with two Cal Poly grads and we were all there at the same time). I applied. Brian has always said to apply for the job you want and not worry about the qualifications listed in the job description. Which was the case for me applying; I didn’t meet the requirements per se but I knew I could perform the job well. And yet my wonderful husband told me not to get my hopes up since I didn’t meet the requirements (I still laugh at him over this) … I got the job. Well, I got a job. They were hiring for a Proposal Specialist but their Marketing Assistant had just given her resignation (or something) so they needed to fill that spot, too. I was beat out for the Proposal Specialist job but was told they wanted me so they offered me the Marketing Assistant job. But, on my first day the person they hired for the Proposal Specialist job decided it wasn’t a good fit for her so I was promoted 20 minutes into my first day. Looking back this was by far my favorite job and place to work. Of course, at the time there were things to pick apart but to this day I still keep in touch with my close co-workers and have gone on vacations with them (and even freelance now for a few of them). Heck, I even traveled with a friend from up here and we stayed at my former boss’ home for a few nights. I miss them.

Back to Brian … he was going on five years at the company he started with in college, and had the itch to work somewhere else to gain more technical experience. We had just visited my good friend (whose home I sneaked out of to go on our first date) in the Seattle area; she and her boyfriend had moved there when we moved back down to SLO. They gave us the tour of the area—including Issaquah—and we said if we ever moved out of California, Issaquah was an option. A few months later, Brian decided it was time to make a career move. We were talking in bed one night and we decided to make a move to the Seattle area, specifically Issaquah. He was in tech, and what better area is there than Microsoft territory and subsequent startups? (Maybe besides the Silicone Valley, though not for us.) He found a job posting on Craigslist for a startup, sent his resume, and the next thing we knew they were flying him up for an interview. He got the job, we both gave our notices, packed up a moving truck (well, we hired movers … after multiple college moves, we said we’d never load and unload again), and left SLO for Issaquah. We rented an apartment unseen, and had no idea how to get there when arrived in town. But we made it fine. We arrived on a Thursday and Brian started the following Monday. I was set to fly back home for two weeks. My dad had just died so there were things to help out with at home, and we had left the animal gang at my parents’ house. Brian flew down after two weeks and we made our final trip up with animals in tow.

Moving to Washington was bittersweet; we were excited for the new adventure but missed SLO very much. And, my friend and her boyfriend moved back to Sacramento the same weekend we moved up to Issaquah. We always seem to miss one another, in state or out of state. Life was good. Brian was enjoying his new job at a startup, took up cycling; I took some time off from working to explore our new area and find the right job. Which I thought I found but it found me. I was a full-force proposal person after working in SLO so I was dead set on accepting a marketing position at an architecture or engineering firm. I was leaning toward architecture; they seem to be more personable and creative (not that I don’t love my engineering husband and friends). And I had my eye on one firm. I had interviewed at a few places and was offered jobs; even accepted one and worked for a few days before realizing it wasn’t a good fit. Then the firm I had my eye on had an open position. I applied, interviewed, and got the thanks but no thanks letter (my first one ever, and from the one firm I wanted). A few weeks later, I received an email from the woman I interviewed with saying she passed along my resume to another firm who was looking for a marketing professional (I still wonder why I didn’t get the job but yet she recommended me, oh well). They called me, I interviewed the next day, and accepted the same afternoon. I remember it was on our fourth wedding anniversary. We had a celebratory/anniversary dinner at the Space Needle (which is so touristy now living here but we loved it!). I even remember accepting with the clause that I needed the first weekend after I started to be a four-day since my friend who keeps moving when we do was getting married and I was in the wedding. And ironically, the firm I wanted to work at was acquired by another firm the firm I was working for eventually acquired (follow that?).

Life in Issaquah was great. We both made career jumps in positions and pay (along with not having state income tax, we essentially picked up a third salary). We still had every intention of moving back to SLO in the next few years, and we were still in our “we don’t want kids” phase so we bought a two-bedroom place … right around the height of the market. To us, it was super cheap based on SLO housing prices, and below our approved loan amount so if either one of us wasn’t working we could still afford the mortgage. (We still love it though, despite having two kiddos, only two bedrooms, and owing more than it’s currently valued.) It felt pretty good to be able to buy on our own without any help. We lived the next few years just working and living, indulging in new hobbies—Brian cycling (in sexy spandex, wait, there’s no such thing) and me travelling with friends and briefly going back for my Master’s—and exploring our new area. I still flew home often to visit my family, especially since I gained a niece within a year of living here (and since a nephew). Brian worked long hours at the startup and started to get tired of it so he made the move and applied to Microsoft. He was offered a job pretty quickly and made the move right away. It was a great move; he loves the company and work, and I’m not complaining about the perks. I was still working in Seattle, but not loving the full-time thing so I went down to four-days, then three-days a week. Which was perfect. I was able to take care of all the household stuff and errands so we had full weekend together come Friday night. And that old adage, happy wife = happy life. Then we decided we should have kids.

Once Brian stopped working in the world of unstable startups, he had the kid itch. We were in a great place to have kids (it was both of our requirements that we only have kiddos if I could stay home). The idea rubbed off on me so we decided we’d go for it. We went for it, Blaise happened. Then we decided we liked him enough so we’d go for another, and if it happened, great. Laine happened, 10 months, 10 days later.

So, here we sit today. Two kiddos, a happy home, Brian in an official non-startup career, and me, a full-time mom/wife/cook/dog walker/cat cuddler/housekeeper (except toilets and trash, Brian is the toilet and garbage guy)/etc. It’s been 17 years, good and bad times, rough nights, exciting times, low patches, you name it … life goes in all different directions, sometimes planned and more often than not, unplanned. To the next 17 years, and then the 17 years after that (hopefully back in SLO eventually, but not likely).

And totally random, but Brian and I have likely crossed paths multiple times before knowing one another. I lived two streets away from him for one summer when I was eight; my parents sold our house and we were waiting on our new one to be built. That was back in they day when us kids rode bikes around the neighborhood and not every person living in the vicinity was considered a child predator. We also used to frequent the same places with our parents, too. Weird to think we have been so close to each other before knowing each other, and here we sit 17 years later. And little things still pop up … I was at a get together at a friend’s house a few weeks back and her husband (whom I hadn’t met) went to the same high school as Brian for one year, but not at the same time. And another and, after having Blaise I joined a mom group and at my first play date I met another mom who was from SLO, born and raised. She, her husband, Brian, and I (and my former Seattle coworkers) were all there at the same time. And the mom who hosted the play date, her husband went to Cal Poly around the same time too. Crazy. I’m always amazed at how small the world is. AND, I realize I totally went off on reminiscing this post (Brian keeps talking to me and I’m doing the “uh-huh” thing) … and using and way too much, all while I sit surrounded by Worm, Mhoose, Mayah, and Leilah, our four-legged kiddos.

2 comments

  1. I love your story Lora! The entire time I was envisionsioning how I remembered you at 15! Cheers to more birthdays and anniversaries!

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