I should warn you. This is a somewhat lengthy post. So if you’re going to read, then be committed. I still feel like I’m cheating you on so many details and stories, but unfortunately I don’t have time to write the novel edition—yet.
Many of you have asked what the story is with Kelsey and me. Amidst the swarm of people at our wedding asking how it all happened, our good friend Justin Morrell phrased it best of all.
Justin: So, I have two things for you. One, it’s about time! Two, did you actually date your wife, Alec?
In short, I guess I would have to say, no, I didn’t really date my wife. At least, not in the traditional sense. But we are both very happy with the way it happened. And it all started in a place we call Southridge.
Southridge: The meeting place
This was the name of an apartment complex that was renowned in Provo for its prolific heteronormative dating and marriage stories. I think in my short three years there, I witnessed some 150 residents who became engaged and then later married.
I moved in during the summer of 2010. I had been at BYU just four months and was loving every minute of my American experience. I was fortunate that my apartment happened to be right in the middle of the building, so I always knew if something was going on outside. Just a week or so before school started that fall, I met Kelsey for the first time sitting on a bench outside the front of the building (although she will actually tell you this is not the case—she’ll catch you up on her own version of the story later.)
We got chatting—I have no recollection of what, most likely something highly unimportant—and I remember thinking that this was a super nice girl, definitely cute, but we would probably just end up friends. What? No romantic love-at-first-sight-I-know-this-is-meant-to-be emotional roller coaster? Well . . . no. Anybody who knows me also knows that I’m not the jump-in-and-get-married-in-three-weeks kind of guy you might usually find at BYU.
In fact, I actually started out by going on a few dates with her friend and then later dating her cousin for about ten months. Great way to start off your relationship with your future wife, don’t you think?
Well, actually, for us it was. It gave us time to become really good friends. During that following summer of 2011, Kelsey and I spent every day together, growing our friendship. I don’t know that either of us saw it ever going anywhere, but we were definitely getting to know each other in ways I had never gotten to know anybody else before. I learned to trust her, to love her, and to know what she was thinking or feeling before she needed to say it out loud.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place
In the three years that followed, we went on spontaneous road trips and long hikes; we binge-watched TV shows; we ordered take-out and tried new restaurants together. But did we go on a single official, three-P (planned, paired-off, and paid-for) date?
Nope, not so much. Because by the time any romantic feelings came into play, we had spent so long as best friends that dating just felt like a continuation of our relationship. All we had to do was up the ante.
Maybe that’s simplifying everything a bit too much. Granted, things between us just felt natural. However, we faced some serious obstacles, both in our relationship and in our separate personal lives. These obstacles slowed us down, made us wonder if we really had a future together—to the point that we tried multiple times to revert to being just friends.
Then something happened. I’m not sure what it is. But something clicked. And, as I was preparing to move from Utah to North Carolina (for grad school at Duke), and as Kelsey prepared to spend a portion of her summer in England, we decided to give things another go. For about a month before our separation, we considered ourselves an item. Things went well for those four weeks. We were happier than we’d been in ages—perhaps because we had let go of the silly notion that we could ever be content only as friends. We just hadn’t told the world. Not yet. We knew of all the we-told-you-so comments that would come our way, and we didn’t want the pressure.
When it came time for Kelsey to leave, we hadn’t decided anything. In fact, we weren’t sure we’d see each other again. Ever. Sure, we loved each other, but we didn’t know how to make things work when she came back to Utah and I was already three thousand miles away. Did we have the foundation to make a long-distance relationship work?
Though we both tried to date new people who were closer to home, we kept in touch. And about two months into our fall semesters (her still at BYU, me at Duke), everything reached a climax. We text-argued one night, an hours-long conversation that led to my saying that I wanted her here, with me, and to her booking a flight to NC for the next day.
She was by my side within twenty-four hours. The rest pretty much flowered from there. Within two weeks we had decided to get married, booked a location for our reception, and started making plans for how we were going to manage the next six months of our lives.
And that brings us to today.