Just before Thanksgiving, I went to Denver on business. Colorado is another one of Allan’s favorite places, and again, I wanted to share everything about my trip with him. In fact, when I checked into my cute little boutique hotel in the heart of the city, for the first time ever, I felt lonely. I was happily single. I loved getting to know myself and have complete autonomy, but when I checked into that hotel and had no one to call other than my parents to tell I landed safely, I was acutely aware of how alone I was. And how I wished it was Allan filling that void.

During some of my spare time, I found myself in a beautiful park full of homeless men, which I thought was a perfect excuse to call Allan. The cell phone would act as a shield against the requests for money and companionship. Thankfully Allan answered and I deliberately walked more laps than necessary around that park to have a reason to stay on the phone. Because of the way he made excuses to extend the conversation, and because of how happy he sounded to hear from me, I was starting to wonder if Allan’s crush had maybe returned.

When I got home, I had lunch with my ex, Shel, my Webmaster Extraordinaire, and broached the idea of dating Allan. He and Allan used to be very good friends, and he and I are still good friends, so I wanted to at least make him aware of the fact that it was something I was thinking about. I didn’t want it to come out of the blue. My ex has no residual feelings for me, nor I for him, but I still felt like it was a conversation that should happen. My friendship with my ex is one that I treasure. It means a lot to me. It’s something I’m proud of and feel lucky to have. And I wanted to make sure that he was comfortable with the idea, especially because our lives – of all three of us – were at one point so intertwined.

I think he was taken aback, but I also think he appreciated the head’s up although he thought I might be heading down this road.

Allan and I went to the same holiday party in early December and things were pretty awkward as he was there with his girlfriend. I knew she didn’t like me, so I tried to keep my distance from both of them. Allan and I only talked briefly and posed for a friendly picture together. (a picture that’s on a dresser in our bedroom) I could tell he wanted to spend more time with me – he was sort of lingering in my general vicinity and later, when I looked at pictures from the evening, he was captured on film looking in my direction – but we stayed apart.

A few nights later, maybe the next night, I got an email from Allan saying that his girlfriend didn’t want us talking at all anymore. No more emails, Facebook messages or IMs. I was very upset, but I also understood her position. Of course she didn’t want him talking to me. She was completely within her rights to demand it.

Allan asked if we could email once a week and I said no, that I thought putting us on a communication schedule felt false. I reminded him that he told me he would only be with someone at this point in his life if he believed it could lead to marriage, and they’d been together for well over a year, so that’s probably where it was heading. I didn’t want our friendship to get in the way of that.

Upon returning to Raleigh from Las Vegas, I found myself with a pair of brass ovaries, so I called Allan to demand an answer: are we friends or not? But he didn’t answer. Nor did he call me back.

I was in limbo. I didn’t understand why he was consuming my thoughts, I didn’t understand my sudden urgent need to know the status of our friendship, but there it was. So I called again and this time he answered.

Because he didn’t have feelings for me anymore, because they had disappeared over the months we spent not communicating, he felt okay with us resuming a friendship. Gradually easing back into it. At that point I had no idea that he was lying, that his feelings hadn’t gone anywhere. And I had no idea that he was ignoring my phone calls and emails because he didn’t want to get hurt again.

So we emailed occasionally over the next six weeks. We never talked on the phone or saw each other, but the emails started piling up. It started off slowly, one email a day with a response. Then it became two emails a day, each requiring a response. Then three, then four. And then it became such that Allan’s emails and Facebook messages peppered my entire day, from the minute I woke up until I went to sleep.

I looked forward to seeing a one with a parenthesis around it when I opened my Hotmail account, and when I was at home, my bedroom became the place where I spent the most time because it contained my computer where I would sit for hours on weeknights and IM stupid, meaningless conversations with Allan that laid the groundwork for the most important relationship of our lives. We would talk about what we wanted our houses to look like (not because we were ever going to live together), clothes we liked, places we wanted to go. And I would harass him about his grammatical mistakes. Each one cost him a quarter that was intended for the local animal shelter.

By the end of November, I was more than a little confused. Certainly I couldn’t have a crush on Allan – Allan of all people! – but I didn’t understand why I was enjoying his virtual company so much. I desperately wanted to see him to get some clarity on the situation, but I didn’t have an excuse. He had a girlfriend, so any one-on-one time would look suspicious. So I invited our mutual friend Dan (later the best man in our wedding) to lunch. Conveniently, Allan and Dan work about two blocks apart in downtown Raleigh, and suddenly downtown Raleigh’s restaurants were wildly appealing. So I invited Allan, too. You know, because he worked so close-by. Allan hemmed and hawed a bit, then finally decided to join us at Mellow Mushroom on a grey late November afternoon.

When I learned that Allan had walked to the restaurant from his office, I insisted on driving him back. Dan drove his own car and although it would have been more convenient for Dan to drop him off, I came up with a flimsy excuse to be alone with Allan. I still didn’t understand why I was so drawn to him, but I was.

And he had a girlfriend.

Not once was there flirtation in our emails. Nor in our IMs or Facebook messages. Every single thing we did was above board, nothing illicit ever, ever happened. And I don’t know that I wanted it to. Although inexplicably drawn to him, I didn’t think I wanted to date him. I couldn’t imagine holding his hand, kissing him or being intimate in any way.

I fell in love with my husband in Las Vegas while he was 2,000 miles away.

I was coming up on my 28th birthday, reeling from mistakes I made, digesting big changes, and I wanted to get away from my life for a weekend. I wanted to get FAR AWAY. My birthday seemed like a great excuse to hop on a plane and visit my brother in the desert.

I really don’t have the skills to adequately describe what I felt when I got there. First of all, I was in a physical environment different than any I had ever seen. The desert is vastly different than the east coast. Everything was beige, the sky stretched endlessly above me, and aside from the brown dirt and the blue sky, there were no other colors. Even the air feels different. It’s so dry and thin. In the South, hot, moist air smacks you in the face when you step outside. And there were mountains everywhere. I felt like I was at the bottom of a bowl of brown mountains. I never would have guessed that there would be giant, snow-capped mountains in the desert.

On my first full day, my uncle and I drove three hours to the western rim of the Grand Canyon. Neither words nor pictures can do that place justice. It’s so overwhelmingly huge and beautiful; the only to believe it is to go there yourself. In fact, before I went, I was of the belief that I wouldn’t be that impressed, that it wouldn’t be that magnificent. I was only going because I was so close, I had no excuse not to go. Now I tell anyone who will listen that they NEED to go to the Grand Canyon.

The part of the Canyon we visited was run by a Native American tribe, and it was while I was around them and that incredible canyon, that Allan started creeping into my thoughts.

At that point, it had been about six months since I talked to him. In February of that year, he confessed that he ended a relationship with someone to focus on his feelings for me. Although I suspected a confession of sorts would be coming my way, it still took me off guard. The timing was terrible. First of all, he told me how he felt about 30 minutes before I had to be at a hockey game. And second, I was still trying to sort through feelings I had about a situation involving someone else. I kissed him on the cheek (which, it turns out, frustrated the hell out of him) and told him I didn’t feel the same way. A few days later, he got back together with his ex. Things were quite awkward, as you can imagine, and we decided it would be best if we didn’t talk for a while. We’d resume our friendship in a few months when emotions were less raw.

So I found myself surrounded by Native Americans thinking of my Navajo friend with whom I had had no contact since the spring. I sent him a text message telling him I was hanging out with his cousins, but got no response. Throughout the day, I took pictures I thought he would be interested in. Specifically, I took a picture of anything that said ‘Navajo’ on it. Although it was a Walapai reservation, they had representation from all of the major tribes on display. Plus, I was excited to be doing something that would make him happy. Allan’s a huge outdoors kind of guy. Nothing makes him happier than to be outside surrounded by nature. If he could, every wall in our house would be covered in Ansel Adams photos. He’s a nature junkie. And there I was, out in nature, hanging out with his ‘cousins’ and I couldn’t share it with him.

When I got back to Gregory’s later that evening, I emailed Allan some pictures and an explanation of my cousins comment. He didn’t respond. (It’s crazy to think that less than a year after I wrote that email basically daring him to start being my friend again, we were engaged.)

The day after touring the Grand Canyon, Gregory and I went to Red Rocks Canyon. Although not as grand as its friend to the south, Red Rocks was breathtaking. When I was there, my head was as clear as it had ever been. My heart was light, my shoulders were unburdened and the breaths I took were deeper. For me it turned out to be quite the magical place.

While climbing on the rocks, hiking down the trails and staring at the raw beauty, I couldn’t help but think of Allan. And how much he would enjoy it. And how much I wanted to share the experience with him. And how irritated I was that he wouldn’t text or email me back. Nearly every thought that my clear mind produced was of Allan.

When I got back to Gregory’s after a day spent at Red Rocks and the Hoover Dam, I checked my email and… nothing. Not a peep from Allan about my pictures or my trip.

This is all about me and my honey.

What are your middle names?
My middle name was Ann but now it’s Krizmanich. And his is Allan. I guess the better question would have been: what are your first names?

How long have you been together?

We’re coming up on three whole years together!

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We knew each other for at least six years. We met sometime in 2003 at Stool Pigeons in Raleigh and I actually remember thinking that he was entirely too quiet. (Which is no longer the case. Especially when I’m reading.)

Who asked whom out?
It was more organic, it just kind of happened. Well, no, he asked me to do a lot of silly things with him – things like ride sleds in two inches of snow and pick out ties at the mall. Those outings – dates, if you will – paved the way for our transition into being a couple.

How old are each of you?
I’m 32 and so is he, but he’s seven months older.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Since Allan is an only child, we see my siblings the most. More specifically, we see my brother Jason the most.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I think the thing that causes us the most stress – as for most couples – is money. My husband is a hard-core saver who puts a lot of thought into each and every purchase and what it will do for our checking/savings accounts, while I’m more wishy-washy. I’m also an impulse buyer and he’s the opposite, frustratingly so.

Did you go to the same school?

No, but we’re both Mountaineers. I’m a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism while he has a degree in geography from Appalachian State University.

Are you from the same home town?
Not even close. I grew up looking at the beautiful skyline of Pittsburgh, PA, through my bedroom window. Allan was a little country bumpkin who ran along the shores of Lake Norman in North Carolina.

Who is smarter?

Though he wouldn’t want you to know it, Allan is probably smarter than you and nearly every other person in the room. He’s incredibly smart… and modest.

Who is the most sensitive?
Allan in every sense of the word. He’s very sensitive to my feelings – he actually APOLOGIZES if he upsets me. And I’m careful to not hurt him because, as I tell him, he’s my delicate little flower. He has a tough exterior – doesn’t show much emotion – but he’s very sensitive. Not so sensitive that I can’t tease the hell out of him, but sensitive about the stuff that really matters. Plus, he’s physically sensitive – very ticklish, needs sunglasses even on cloudy days, can smell my perfume from downstairs, etc… He’s almost like a super hero, except his physical powers (of extreme sensitivity) don’t really do him any good.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Oh, man, we eat all over the place. I don’t know that we have a favorite spot, but we’re fans of burgers and hot dogs, of steak and of southern cooking.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Who has the craziest exes?

One of his exes is certifiably crazy, so, him.

Who has the worst temper?

Me! Neither of us really have a temper – our life together is very peaceful and tranquil and full of laughter – but if one of us is going to be mad, it’s most likely going to be me.

Who does the cooking?
Me again. Allan says that when I moved in, he forgot how to cook. He also thinks it’s amusing that all of his exes claimed to be good cooks but really weren’t, while I claimed to hate cooking but know my way around a kitchen.

Who is the neat-freak?
Allan used to be until a sloppy girl and rambunctious dog moved into his house.

Who is more stubborn?
Me, most definitely. He’s sensitive about my feelings, remember? He’ll cave if it’ll make me happy.

Who hogs the bed?
I don’t think either of us do. He claims that I steal the covers, and if I do, it’s only because he insists on keeping the thermostat set so low.

Who wakes up earlier?
Allan does, but only because Murphy insists on it. Allan is Murphy’s go-to guy for his morning feeding/potty break.

Where was your first date?

We didn’t really have an official first date, but the first time we hung out with the knowledge that we were inching toward a relationship was the day Barack Obama was sworn in as president. (I like to tease my staunchly republican husband about the timing) We rode sleds, had dinner and then watched all of the inaugural festivities on my couch. No kissing, though. Things were still platonic with a soon-to-be-romantic undertone.

Who is more jealous?
Me probably, just because I know his history and I know about every crush he’s ever had in his whole adult life.

How long did it take to get serious?
Allan was serious about me even before we started dating, but it took me about a month. I’ve always had a hard time sleeping in the same bed/room with someone else – I’m too self-conscious, I think – but after a few weeks of dating, I actually fell asleep on Allan’s chest while we were on the couch. And I was in such a deep sleep that when I woke, I was in a little puddle of drool. Sexy, right? It was at that moment, though, that I realized how completely at ease and safe I felt with this man, and I knew I wanted to marry him. Five months later, we were engaged.

Who eats more?
Allan! Not only does he eat MORE, he eats more QUICKLY! That boy’s basically a speed-eater. In fact, once my grandfather told him he had such pretty teeth because he doesn’t chew.

Who does the laundry?
Actually, we each do our own.

Who’s better with the computer?
Allan, most definitely. He’s super smart, remember?

Who drives when you are together?
Because we like each other and really want to stay married to each other for the rest of our lives, Allan drives. I’ll just leave it at that!

RAS: Check out these gloves (Northface insulated Apex, 60% off), what size do you need?
AKS: I don’t need any gloves. I like the ones I have.
RAS: But I think you should get them. They’re warmer than the ones from Target and you’re always cold. You’ll have them for years. They’ll keep your hands much warmer, and they’re waterproof. I think you should get them.
AKS: But, I already have gloves.
RAS: They’re a really good deal and they’re so much better than what you have. You should get them. I’ll order them for you.
AKS: Okay, order them if you want.

That boy is always looking for ways to take care of me.

(What? You didn’t know his first name actually starts with an ‘R’?)

I’m in Allentown, PA, wearing a neon yellow hoodie sweatshirt (my father’s), with a laptop resting on my legs and a cold brewing in my body.

I’m here until next Sunday performing nurse/maid/chef duties for my parents, primarily my mother.

The lower left lobe of her lungs had a good portion dissected on Thursday under the assumption that she had lung cancer. Turns out she doesn’t. While grateful for the revocation of the cancer diagnosis, I’m afraid my parents are going to look at this as a victory for the cigarettes and continue with/resume their daily, multi-pack habits.

I’m cold.

I miss my husband.

I miss my car and my dog and Target.

On my way up here, I met Chuck Amato at the airport. It beyond made my day. He unknowingly played a supporting role in my first, happy, years in Raleigh, and I have warm feelings where he’s concerned. I wish I had the wherewithal to tell him that rather than talk about the weather and Mass. Really, really gracious and friendly man, though. Meeting him was a total treat.

I don’t know how to do much on this computer, dammit, but I figured out how to install Spotify! Aaawwww yeah!

My webmaster extraordinaire (who is making his second appearance on this blog this year! hi, shel!) updated my WordPress back-end stuff, and now I have to learn a whole new way of updating this blog. Thankfully, it’s not too complicated. Imagine if I couldn’t work my computer OR my blog! I shudder to think…

I don’t talk about my job on here for a variety of reasons. One, I unwillingly job-hop a bunch and it’d be tough for the four of you to keep up with. Two, I just think it’s unprofessional. But I’m going to break one of my own rules and talk about how awesome my job is.

I work with people I consider my friends. I have fun. I actually enjoy going into my office, turing on my computer and doing my job every day. I’m challenged, I’m learning and I laugh a whole lot.

Plus, my job is doing something so kind for me: the people I work with trust and respect me enough to allow me to work from Allentown next week so that I can take care of my mother and not burn vacation time. They didn’t even hesitate to allow me to do it. I got an instant ‘of course’ when I asked. Of course I could support my parents, of course I could still work on projects and write articles and press releases from 500 miles away. Of course it was okay.

Do you know how rare that is? Allan doesn’t have the flexibility to work from home EVER, let alone from another state for an entire week.

Saying I’m grateful is an understatement, but I am. I’m so grateful. And I love that before I left, each of my coworkers popped their head into my office or pulled up a chair and gave me their support and their well-wishes.

I’m grateful and I’m lucky. Times a thousand.