Anna and Porter
How We Met
Porter and I met when we were five. We were in the same kindergarten homeroom and went to elementary, then middle, then high school together. I have so few memories of my life before I knew him, and one of the things I value most about our relationship is how many stages of life we’ve experienced together. I can talk about our second grade art teacher, or what Greek houses we were placed into in third grade, and he knows exactly what I’m talking about and can add to those memories with his own, and in that way I feel like he’s made my memories of childhood so much richer. He remembers everything, so little details I might have lost if we hadn’t ended up together he can fill in, and help me remember; it feels like we have an endless well to pull stories from, even now, about twenty years after we first met.
We started dating in the eighth grade. I was fourteen, and we went to a pretty “sheltered” school, so dating really meant that we’d just announced that we liked each other. For the first year or so we went on a lot of group dates, hung out with a big circle of friends, and got to know each other in a social environment. In the summers, I would go off to camp and we’d write letters, letters I still have and keep in my bedside drawer. I like to think that God was preparing us even in those early days to deal with physical separation well, to learn how to still feel close to one another even when we weren’t together, and to work on building up our own sense of individual identity rather than relying on the other person to define us.
After high school, we went to separate colleges. They weren’t very far apart, at first, about an hour’s flight away, and we visited each other about every three weeks or so. But I was unhappy. Porter has a sense of contentment no matter where he is or who he’s with that I struggled to find in his permanent absence that first year of college. I transferred, which ended up being a great thing, probably one of the best things that happened to me and to us. I did an adventure education program, then enrolled in school in Dublin, which, you can imagine, was not just an hour’s flight away from him. Our every three weeks or so visits became every three months or so and that was hard, really hard, but one of the things that bothered us to the core during this stage was having people ask that question: “isn’t it hard?” as if something being difficult was a good reason to just give up. We weren’t naive about the reality that living in separate countries for a few years wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but we also weren’t naive about allowing a difficult but temporary situation to shape how our lives turned out. We knew how we wanted them to turn out, and we knew who we wanted them to turn out with. Each other.
So yes, it wasn’t fun, and it mostly wasn’t easy, and we didn’t generally get better at it year by year (it actually got harder), but being long distance for that long made us really, really, really good at something I think we’ll be reaping the benefits of throughout our marriage. Communicating. We get each other at such a depth because of all those weeks and months and years where all we could do was talk, a depth that might have taken seven or eight more years had we never been long distance. We live together now, in an apartment we’re absolutely in love with on a quiet corner in a quiet neighborhood in Boston. We’ve been engaged for a few weeks, run a successful lifestyle blog together, and are prepping to have Porter leave his day job for good this September as we set off for a trip around the world. If the first ten years of our relationship taught us anything, it was that not a lot matters more than spending time together. We intend to never forget that lesson.
How He Asked
I think the video tells it best, but essentially, we went to London to do some work for our blog, and I thought Porter was making a travel diary video that we were going to put together to share with our followers. I knew we would probably get engaged within the next six months or so, but I really was not expecting it on this trip. I’d made some joking, jabbing comments about getting engaged a few days before, and he’d been ice cold (kind of mean, even) in response, which I now realize was just to throw me off the scent completely. He said he had to commit to the role. Thanks, Port…