Often at the end of a year, people like to do a review of what they experienced, and I can think of no year more fitting to reflect on than this one.
You see, one year ago today, 1/26, I met Caroline at a singles retreat at Bear Lake, Utah. Although a singles event, neither of us were there to meet people. Caroline came as a favor to a friend who was running the event, and I was in a place of introspection, and the theme about moving forward really spoke to me.
I’ll go into more detail on how we ended up connecting and falling for each other another time, but needless to say we did. We bonded over mutual love for movies, food, and various activities, and eventually found ourselves only seeing each other, and by some miracle opening our hearts to each other.
The process was so gradual, so seamless, that there isn’t a good way for us to determine when we became us, and so we get to celebrate the day we met as the day we became we.
We shared some great small trips together, from going down to St. George a couple of times to a fantastic mini vacation to Lava Hot Springs where Caroline recognized that she was developing feelings for me while staying in the hauntiest room in a haunted hotel, (which will be a post on its own).
In late June, we took a joint family road trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to visit Caroline’s mother. We stayed in an eccentric pirate house, which we discovered was amazing for playing hide-and-go-seek.
The significance of that trip, aside from meeting Caroline’s mom, was that Caroline expressed that she was falling for me.
Neither of us knew that those months of bonding, getting to know each other, and fall in love with who we are, would become the backbone of a budding relationship that would lend strength to a host of trials that awaited us.
I had been considering moving for a few years. And with Hannah going into high school, I knew that this was the year to do so, as I didn’t want to interrupt the kid’s high school experience and friends by moving in the middle of it.
So as we had began to develop a great relationship, I had to make the choice of where to move. St. George was at the top of my list prior to falling for Caroline, but that wasn’t an option any longer. Instead I made the choice to move closer to her and give our budding relationship a chance.
After a couple of months preparation, mostly getting my house to the point of renting, we made a strenuous move from the big city, West Valley, to little old Heber.
The move was especially difficult for my kids, as Heber is a world away from West Valley and their friends, and has been an adjustment financially, as it has been more expensive and our budget has had to tighten considerably.
In large part, the kids have treated the uprooting of their world quite well. It’s been hard in many ways, but it’s an adventure that we’ve faced together.
As we settled in to our new place, stressors began to arise. Some of the issues we faced are of a personal nature, and won’t be mentioned. One major one, however, would thread it’s way through the next several months and become a major current stressor. My work began to show signs of being dissatisfied with me.
A short time later, we ran into some medical issues with Caroline’s kids. Cosette began having seizures, which was terrifying and busy with doctor and school visits, until we were able to ascertain the seizures were relatively minor and able to be well controlled through medication.
During this time, we also faced some emotional trials. Being in a relationship again after some time brings up emotions and fears that you simply can’t plan for when you’re single. Caroline and I have worked a great deal together to overcome the anxieties and stressors that opening your heart to someone again can bring, and it’s been wonderful to see the progress we’ve both been able to make on our own hearts, and how that has translated in our relationship.
Caroline and I did get the chance to flyout to New York in November, which was a lot of fun. We stayed in The Jane, a swanky hotel in a nice part of the city. It was such a wonderful, although incredibly brief, reprieve from the struggles we had been dealing with.
December would prove to be extremely challenging, however. Caroline, Hannah, Mari, Jaidyn, Cosette, and myself were driving down to a friend’s house for a Christmas Devotional crepe party, when despite taking great caution, I lost control of the vehicle on black ice, slid into oncoming traffic, and totaled my car. Nobody, including the young driver of the truck we slid into, was hurt, which was a complete miracle.
This further complicated my already strained finances, right before Christmas, New Years, and Hannah’s birthday. Searching for and procuring a new car was immensely difficult, but Caroline was immensely helpful in doing so.
With grateful hearts, we celebrated Christmas together, (well, Caroline’s kids went to Disneyland with their father and step-mom, and Hannah and Jaidyn spent time with their mom). Having faced the prospect of serious injury in a devastating car accident, it made sharing the holidays so much sweeter. One or all of us could have easily been hurt or killed.
New Year’s brought another reprieve with a masquerade ball, which was also my third formal dance/event with Caroline this year. We helped host the event, which made it even more memorable.
Shortly after celebrating Hannah’s birthday, however, the onslaught of trials would continue. I lost my job, my kid’s grandma (their mom’s mother) passed away, and Caroline’s 16 year old cat nearly died.
It’s important to me to take a moment and reflect on the reality that there has been a great deal of great times as well. Caroline and I fell in love! We live 3 minutes away from each other, and me and my kids get to live in a beautiful small town! We participated in so many get togethers and dances, spent countless hours laughing and smiling together and as a joint family, and have bonded together in such splendid ways. And despite so many trials, everyone is alive and healthy, and in good spirits.
It has been such a trialsome, yet wonderful year. We’ve faced so much together and have seen how we respond to adversity in ways that can’t be manufactured in a budding relationship.
In looking back on the year that truly began on Jan. 26th, it’s beautiful to reflect on the incredible and temultuous year.
To begin with, I met Caroline. Wow. What can I say about meeting her other than she changed the entire game. In the moment that I was not at all looking to connect with anyone, she came in and swept me off my feet without even the slightest attempt to do so. We bonded so quickly, and shared so many interests and passions, then took it to depths of understanding that is difficult and rare to find.
We connected, and began dating. Although we both took it slow, we eventually grew together in a way that was deep and powerful.
On a trip to St. George, I began to develop feelings for her that were the beginnings of love. We returned again to St. George a short time later and the feeling deepened. But it wan’t until a short trip to Lava Hot Springs where she started to really feel herself fall.
While we stayed in a haunted hotel, in the hauntiest room in the hotel, we only had a brief oddity that made our hair stand up on end, (before we heard it was the haunted room, mind you), when the ceiling fan came on by it’s self.
That was all good and fun, but what made her begin to fall was when the next morning we were sitting at a table doing some extra work, when she wanted to have some of the delicious dessert from the dining area that we had from the previous night. I remembered seeing them wrap it up as they put it away, and so I immediately stood and wen tto the food area and procured her a plate of lemon squares. An entire plate of exactly what she had craved.
It was the attention to detail, the remembering they had put it away, the gesture of giving without a moment’s hesitation that really spoke to her and she began to fall.
But our times of great getaways was about to come to a screeching hault. You see, my children’s mother ended up struggling with her own issues, and as a result needed to take some time to get herself in a better place, which I’m happy to report she has been doing great with. But this meant that I would have the kids 100% of the time, with very little time to break away. This time thing will become a theme of the year.
We took a family trip up to Cor de Lane, ID and stayed in a pirate house that proved to be a pivitol place in Caroline and my relationship. It was in that house, as we laid together in a fun and somewhat strange atmosphere, that Caroline said that she was falling for me.
In unlocking her heart and allowing for a beautiful relationship to progress, it also ipened up her heart to a great deal of fears and anxiety, which has been challanging for both of us to work on. She has been through a ton, and suddenly being in a place of vulnerability made for feelings to bubble to the surface that have been difficult for her to process. We’ve worked hard on them through the months, and she has made such immense progress in many areas. It’s truly a thing to behod when someone actively works on their own wellbeing and becoming someone more powerful and beautiful than they ever were as they conquer their deepest fears.
In August my and my kid’s lives would change forever. We moved up to Heber, in large part so Caroline and I could be closer together, and in large part because I was wanting to move out of West Valley before the kids went into High School, and it was time.
The move has continued to be taxing on us in unexpected ways. The kids have done their best to find the good in the move, but have had their own struggles with moving away from friends and the familiar. It’s been hard to deal with the fallout of the difficulties that they have faced at times, and it’s been hard to see the struggles my children have gone through as a result of my decision to movve.
It put a strain on me financially. I haven’t had nearly the amount of expendable income as I had, as it increased my monthly expenses by about $500/month, between gas and the car payment and such.