Our third anniversary is coming up in August, and I wanted to write out the story of us. We're not newlyweds, but my goodness, I know it's worthwhile to savor the merit of your own story (love story, or otherwise). And almost-anniversary month has me in a sentimental mood. More than just about everything, I love the life I have with Nicholas. So here it is, the first part of our story, complete with blurry photos of fresh-faced younger versions of us.

We met our freshman year at Purdue University—he, a boy from Indiana, and I, a girl from Minnesota. We both lived in Shreve Hall, and partook in the same on-campus Christian ministry. In the spring of freshman year, we were spending a bit more time together, previously only admiring each other from afar. At the very least, I found him to be good-looking and infinitely fascinating, if still somewhat mysterious. I felt homesick at school and would sneak off to the horticulture park to sulk and hike on the wooded trails because they reminded me of home. On one particular day, Nicholas happened to be in the lobby of the dorm as I was on my way out, and he offered to come along (or I invited him, I can't recall which). 

We hiked the trails together and talked. I discovered that he was even more fascinating in conversation—and my goodness, that dimple when he smiled! On another occasion, we climbed trees, and he later told me that he texted his best friend, Fleet, to tell him about the tree-climbing, and there were words exchanged about me "being a keeper." Before the end of the semester, he asked me to be his girlfriend, and we parted ways for the summer, right after I gave him the stomach flu (I was a keeper, you know). 

We wrote letters and talked on the phone throughout the summer, but it was a new relationship and we were nineteen and so it was hard. I listened to a lot of his favorite band, The Rocket Summer, to try and impress him. We had skype "dates" where we dressed up, lit candles, and wore perfume and cologne, regardless of the nearly 500 miles between us. 

In the fall of our sophomore year, we rekindled our dating back at school. After all, it was much easier when we lived in the same state. We attended the annual Cru Barn Dance together in matching flannel plaid. We spent time studying together, as he switched majors and I was in the throes of nursing school. He let me practice neuro and cardiac exams on him when I was in my Physical Assessment clinical, and during a memorable practice round of a cardiac assessment, I mentioned how his heart was beating so fast. He replied, "Andrea, I'm in love with you." Apart from the few storybook-like parts, life was mostly classwork and friends and my work at a coffee shop. We did our best to  find time together when we could, even if that was meeting in the laundry room in the basement of the dorm. He switched majors three semesters in, so we spent late nights on campus as he took heavy courses simultaneously in order to catch up and graduate on time.

We spent the next two years dating, with summers apart, but visits in between via the MegaBus and train. He visited my family over Christmas break, and I visited his for Spring Break. He came with my family on a camping trip in Wisconsin, and I came along to Cross Country Camp with his family. I remember how thrilling it was to hold his hand and hear his thoughts about life and love and the sermon at church on Sunday. At some point, he stopped shaving, and at first I hated the beard, and then I loved it. Around him, I felt pretty and smart, and known to my core, and I respected not only the man that he was, but also the man he was becoming.

to be continued :)

*Of note, the first, last, and second-to-last photos were taken by my brother, hence the composition and higher quality.