Happy new year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful and love-filled holiday season. Walker and I spent Christmas with my family in New York (I will post a holiday update later in the week!). However, what I really wanted to write about today was inspired by January 1, 2016, which marked the five year anniversary of our first date!
It has been an absolutely INCREDIBLE five years, and people ask me all the time how Walker & I met, so I thought I would share the beginning our love story with you all. I have had a draft of this blog post in the works for years, but never hit publish for whatever reason. However, today feels like the day, as I am feeling full of love, joy, gratefulness, and sentimentality off the back of celebrating a wonderful 5 year anniversary last week and Walker’s 33rd birthday yesterday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DARLING!).
It’s a long, mushy post so readers beware! ;)
Like most little girls of my generation, I was raised on Disney fairy tales. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love at first sight, boy happens to be a prince, boy and girl live happily ever after in a swanky castle. Now, I was also raised with more sense than that to think falling in love is anything like that… but I guess a part of me always hoped for a little magic. And I got it. :)
I assumed people were exaggerating a bit when they claim they fell in love at first sight. But when Walker and I met, there was an undeniable surge of electricity that hit me like a ton of bricks. It was instant chemistry and attraction. I knew from the moment I met him that he was going to be a big part of my life. I wanted to know who this man was and what made him tick. No exaggeration whatsoever. But let’s backtrack just a little…
I was working as an executive assistant at a big international television distribution company when I realized that I wanted to move into editing/post production. With no jobs of the sort at my current company, I decided to accept a job working for a post production facility in November of 2010. On October 8th, I went in to fill out paperwork for my new gig.
According to Walker, he met me before I met him… but maybe someday he will tell you his side of our story (hint, hint, hubs! Want to write your first post?)! Anyway, after I was finished with my paperwork, my soon-to-be boss took me into the room where I would be working to meet my future coworkers. Now, I don’t want to sound like I am going off on a tangent by describing the shape of the room… it really is relevant to the story, I promise. The room was a long skinny space that was separated in the middle by a partial partition that really made it feel like two rooms. The door into the room was on the right side so when we entered, I could only really see the one side of the room where I was standing. I met everyone on that side of the room and we left. Little did I know that the man I would end up marrying was sitting on the other side of that partition. Even though I didn’t see him, he certainly saw me. And so it began…
Fast forward to the first day at my new job: November 8, 2010. My supervisor took the two new trainees on a tour of the building. As we walked through a back hallway on the second floor, I saw a tall handsome man in a green striped hoodie and a Nebraska hat walking toward us. My supervisor introduced him to us as Walker and he shook my fellow newbie’s hand. When he shook my hand, BOOM: that shock of electricity. I still remember looking into his eyes at that moment and thinking, “What just happened?!?!” The rest was a bit of a blur… I think the encounter shocked my brain for a minute and time seemed to slow down. Walker said, “Nice to meet you,” and I think I said the same. He tells me I said, “VERY nice to meet you,” with an emphasis on the VERY, but I think his brain was a little shocked too. No one else was paying enough attention to clarify this for us so it will remain a mystery.
Over the next couple of months, Walker and I enjoyed getting to know each other at work. As with many love stories, this one can’t be truthfully told without airing a little dirty laundry, so bear with me. At the time, I was dating someone else who, despite being a good person, wasn’t right for me (nor was I right for him). It gives me a twinge of guilt to say this, but despite my current relationship status, I so looked forward the the five minutes I got to joke with Walker over the coffee station or the half hour he was working on the computer next to me so we could chat.
One rainy Saturday in December, I was working a shift alone since my usual Saturday coworker was on vacation. About an hour after arriving, I heard the door open (my brain: “Wait- who’s here? Erika, get your feet off the desk and pretend you aren’t wearing socks with loafers!”) and who walks in? You guessed it: Walker — with two large coffees in hand!
I was so surprised when I saw his face (and grateful I saw the coffee… HALLELUJAH!)! My brain was going a mile a minute: “How sweet of him! And WHY the heck did I have to wear socks with loafers and no makeup? He looks so handsome in his plain white t-shirt and jeans. So classic… ERIKA, stop staring! Don’t be weird.”
Knowing that I would be alone in the office, Walker had decided to bring me coffee. Thanks to a slow day at work, we spent the next three hours talking about anything and everything. Although we had gotten to know each other a bit at work over the past couple months, we had never gotten the opportunity to just sit and talk one-on-one before, and it was incredible how much we connected. I hated to admit it, but I connected more with this man I barely knew than I ever could with the guy I was dating for years. We could have easily talked for 3 more hours (or days) if some work hadn’t come in for the afternoon (stupid work… always getting in the way of fun). So before he left, he said he had to run to his car to get something.
While he was gone, my brain got to spinning again. What was I doing? I needed to get a hold of myself and finally take my happiness into my own hands. I didn’t want to wake up years from that day after sitting idly by and realize I was still stuck, unhappy, and unfulfilled. If my relationship hadn’t been working for a long time and wasn’t working now, it was never going to work. I was going to end things with my ex, after putting it off for months (and maybe years). I took a little breath of relief after this decision, but my nerves shot back up as the door opened again when Walker returned, with a wrapped gift in his hand.
What happened next blew me away. He handed me the gift, and inside was a pair of copper cups for drinking Moscow mules (which you need to try today if you haven’t had one… delicious!). I laughed because it had become a joke between us at work. When I had first mentioned them, he was the only one of my coworkers who knew what they were. We had agreed at the time that they were the best drink ever and that we needed to find a good place that made them around work. It became a little thing for us… the promise of a good cocktail to get the coworkers together, mainly as an excuse for the two of us to spend more time together. It never happened, however, so when I saw the cups, I was delighted! As soon as I opened them, Walker put his heart on the line, telling me how he felt about me. He told me that (in my paraphrased words) he had been smitten ever since the first day he saw me and that his feelings have only grown. He told me that he felt a true connection between us, and hoped I felt the same way. He also said that he understood and respected that I was in a relationship and that, in the meantime, he would be “a fan in the stands.” He told me that the gift was just a fun way of saying that he hoped we could someday enjoy a Moscow Mule together, as well as more of the lovely conversation we had that day. He wished me a Merry Christmas and a flashed me a gorgeous smile before leaving the room.
My heart felt like it was going to explode! I was so happy… I really had feelings for this guy, feelings I had been pushing aside out of loyalty to my current relationship. But I couldn’t lie… I enjoyed joking around with him at work. I was disappointed on days that he was working in another room. I had felt special when he asked me for baking advice for his Thanksgiving galette (which I later found out was just a ruse to talk to me…. he’s a great baker!). I had a blast hanging out with him at the company Christmas party (and *may* have put a little extra effort into looking cute in his honor!). I was blown away with his sweet gesture of visiting me at work on that very day. I was incredibly impressed with (and attracted to) how open and honest he was about his feelings. I had an overwhelmingly strong desire to get to know the core of who he was as a person. I was intrigued, and I wanted more.
I knew what I had to do next. If I wasn’t convinced that I was ending things with my ex before, this was the kick in the pants that I needed to finally follow through with my actions. Walker was courageous enough to be true to himself and his feelings… I could be too. Walker’s honesty and bravery (and hunkiness!) inspired me to finally take the leap. I went home on my lunch break that very day and ended things with my ex before the hour was over. It was hard to walk away after 5 years, but I followed my gut and trusted that I would end up back on my feet again.
The days that followed my break up were hard and I was kind of a mess. Thankfully, I was heading home for Christmas in a few days (yes, I am the jerk who ended a relationship a week before Christmas… but it had to be done) and could be with my family and best friend. The only thing that got me through the next couple of weeks was that little thing we all love so much: the telephone. About once a day during that Christmas break, a text message would pop up on my phone from Walker. My heart would leap, and I would try to keep the conversations going for as long as possible without seeming like a weirdo. Those texts were little bursts of sunshine in my day.
Then one day, he asked if he could give me a call. I was so excited (and nervous!), but I was at a family party all afternoon and wouldn’t be able to connect with him before he headed up to Omaha for the night (he was also home for Christmas) where he got no cell service. Since we weren’t going to be able to connect until the next day, he resorted to sending another text saying he wished he could ask over the phone, but since time was of the essence, text would have to do. He asked if I wanted to join him for New Year’s Eve (now two days away, thus the time crunch) at an elegant rat-pack-esque dinner and drinks soiree at a the Glendon Bar and Kitchen in Westwood.
While I would have given my right arm to say “YES, YES, YES!” to such an amazing date with him, I was worried it was really soon after all of the drama to say yes to such a high-pressure first date. I wanted to think over what I was going to do, so I texted him that it sounded incredible and that I would let him know the next day. After thinking it over, I realized it was the day and context of the date that was giving me pause, not the idea of going on a date with him in general. So I called him the next day when he was back in cell phone range to explain myself and my vague (and probably very confusing/disappointing) answer. I told him that I really liked him and wanted nothing more than to spend more time getting to know him. I said that the NYE date sounded lovely, and I would really like for us to go on that date at some point, but that it was a little too much for me to handle at the moment, so would he like to go to lunch with me on New Year’s Day instead? He completely understood and was relieved it wasn’t just a “no” as he had feared after my vague text. We made plans for him to pick me up on New Year’s Day, Walker saying he would find a great spot for us to eat.
After our phone conversation and our first date was scheduled, we began texting a lot more over the following couple of days. I spent most of my New Year’s Eve attached to my phone, wishing I had just said yes to the original date so I wouldn’t have to wait any longer! But the interaction and anticipation was fun, and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing about how it all went down, now knowing how it all played out (wedding bells and all that jazz!).
At noon on January 1, 2011, Walker knocked on my door to pick me up for our date. I had spent ages picking out the perfect outfit to look perfectly lunch-date-casual, and wished on my lucky stars that things would go well. As soon as he came in, Bo attacked him with love and belly-rub requests, and I knew it was going to be amazing. Bo-Approved. (P.S. If you want to read about the love story of the first man in my life, Mr. Bo, you can here! I wrote it on our five year anniversary as well!)
Walker opened the car door for me (something he learned from his grandfather and still does every time for me to this day), and had strategically set the song “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies to play as we drove off to the restaurant. Though it was the first time I had ever heard the song, over the years it has grown to be one of our favorites and was even the recessional song at our wedding.
That first date at Granville went so incredibly well that lunch turned into a walk around Downtown Burbank, which turned into a glass of wine and talking for hours at my place, which turned into several more dates, which turned into our first kiss on my birthday, which turned into hundreds more dates and kisses, which turned into a beautiful relationship, which turned into moving in together, which turned into getting engaged, which turned into committing the rest of our lives together as husband and wife over the next five beautiful years.
We are a wonderful little family now, all because of those honest, brave words and copper cups Walker gave me on that rainy Saturday morning (and he gave me another set of copper cups on our wedding day!). I love him for that… and for everything. I am so grateful every day for trusting that that insane lightning bolt I felt on the first day we met was truly something so special and for following my heart straight into his arms for today and always.
I love you, Walker. You & Me, Baby… <3