I was sitting in the first aisle on the plane for this flight. That last hour when we started descending into Chicago, I honestly felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. The thoughts in my mind were racing, my hands were shaking, and I just remember texting Austin saying, “can you believe this is it?” “this is really happening!” as I sat there smiling looking at my phone.
When we landed, I unbuckled my seatbelt so quickly – I was totally like one of those annoying passengers that stands up as soon as the plane lands. When the jet bridge door opened, I truly felt like I was in a dream. I was in an unfamiliar place, about to walk into this moment that we had been talking about and imagining what this very feeling would feel like. As I walked through Chicago O’Hare, I remember feeling like everything was silent. There were so many people – so much movement – and yet it felt like everything was frozen, and I couldn’t hear anything. As I stepped onto the escalator that was leading to the downstairs/passenger pickup area, I could physically feel my heartbeat in my throat. I stood there in a sea of people, looking straight ahead. I had no idea where Austin was coming from, or what he was wearing. After what felt like 2 hours (and was probably only about 6 minutes, ha) I saw his eyes above everyone else. I can tell you with all sincerity, the second that our eyes connected and he smiled at me, I felt something that I have never felt in my entire life. I dropped all of my bags and just ran. Yup, just like the Notebook scene where Allie jumps into Noah’s arms. We didn’t care one bit. That very first moment was just between the two of us, no cameras, and it did really feel as if it was just him and I in the room full of probably thousands of people.
I knew then.
People ask me all the time, “how did you know?” and my mind just always initially goes back to that very first moment at the airport. I felt so peaceful, both physically and mentally. His arms around me for the first time felt like I had been waiting for that feeling for years, and when I finally felt it, it was like “ah, that’s what I was looking for.” I honestly don’t know how else I could describe that moment, because to me it was an indescribable feeling. I just knew that it made sense, and the weekend proved that even more.
Obviously, this was not the first time that we had talked, so we knew our connection was strong from the very beginning, but I don’t think either one of us expected to feel as comfortable as we did during our first “initial” meeting. It felt as though we had known each other for YEARS. When we got to the hotel room, I remember sitting down and just looking at him while asking, “Is this real?” “are YOU real?”
We put our playlist on and danced in front of the window overlooking the city, and I don’t think I had ever felt so happy in my entire life than I did at that moment. I knew I had made the right decision. This was what it was supposed to feel like.
We spent our time talking, laughing (seriously we were obnoxious the entire weekend), recording things, eating snacks; I mean it when I say we both felt as though our souls had been connected before. Everything was easy. As it got late on Friday night, we laid in bed watching Netflix and enjoying each other’s company – something we still love to do on our weekend nights – and it was perfect.
Everything about that weekend reminded me of why it’s so important to follow your heart. I am so incredibly thankful that I listened to that voice in my head, and that feeling in my gut. It led me right to the absolute love of my life. My soulmate. My best friend. Ah, and I’m crying now while writing this. Dang, I had made it so far!
I can’t believe it’s been a year from this very weekend. I still look at Austin the way that I did the minute that I saw his eyes across the airport, and he still gives me butterflies when he picks me up and holds me close. I knew that I loved him during that weekend (but I’ll save the story of when we first said it for another time!) but I NEVER knew that I could love someone this much. As much as it has grown since that weekend, it still continues to grow every day.
I don’t even think “thankful” suffices for the appreciation that I feel to have such a wonderful partner in life. Every day I fall more and more in love, and I just didn’t know this type of love existed.
Cheers to the weekend that started the rest of my life, with the love of my life.