me to we, part one

before i was a "we", i was a "me". the year was 2013, i was going to high school, applying to colleges, and crossing my fingers that i would get asked to my senior prom. i had no idea that my love story was already in the works, far away in south america.

elder brandtly jake thornton was serving a mission for the LDS church in paraguay. in this time period, he served alongside with elder ladd gustafson from gilbert, arizona. they kept in contact after they both returned home, and then reconnected once they both moved up to utah to attend college. brandtly soon met ladd's younger sister, chelsey. they became quick friends.

meanwhile, my mom was taking me out to lunch and, over a plate of ravioli, told me that i should move up to utah. her boldly confident statement caught me a bit off guard. my parents had always allowed me to make my own decisions, always supporting and guiding, but never directing or demanding. but since mother knows best, i began to make plans to migrate up to happy valley with the rest of mesa, arizona. i would be living the dream at king henry apartments, and one of my roommates would be chelsey gustafson.

i remember carrying groceries into my apartment. i opened my front door to see chelsey sitting in the front room with a curly and dark haired boy.

"this is brandtly!" she introduced.

the name rang faint recognition. in the few short days that we had lived together, chelsey had mentioned his name a handful of times, always accompanied with good words. they shared a very natural, very easy, very platonic relationship. "but how," i thought as i smiled in brandtly's direction, "has their relationship remained platonic when he's so handsome?"

i saw him nearly every day after that.

he would stop by to pick chelsey up to go to the gym, he would invite all my roommates to go to the food truck round-up, he would bring his friends over to our apartment for a movie night. we spent hours together, but always in a group setting, never exclusively paired off. he never asked where i was from.  he learned i was from arizona because he noticed the gold necklace of the grand canyon state that i always wore. he never asked what i was going to school for. he learned i was taking a semester off because he was with me when i applied for a full-time job. he never asked about my family. he learned that i was the oldest of five kids, just like him, because of my perfectionist tendencies and the maternal tone my voice adapted whenever i spoke of my siblings. we got to know each other, not through obligatory and forced questions or through social media stalking, but through simply being together every day. he made me laugh and he made me excited. i could feel myself light up when he was around. 

this friendship progressed for about three months. by the time october rolled around, he was my best friend and we spent every moment together. he was observant, driven, kind, witty, and supportive. everything i had ever wanted and everything i hope to someday become. then one day, he looked at me,  and it was different. his eyes were gentler. his smile was warmer. i found myself mimicking these discreet changes, and just like that, our relationship evolved. it wasn't something we had to communicate or something we had to clarify or establish. it was just different, and we could both feel it.

taken the day we kissed. ooooh!!

taken the day we kissed. ooooh!!

then we kissed. and it was game over. we were even more inseparable than before. this was so different than any other relationship i had ever been in before. i never felt uncertain as to where his feelings were, i never felt the need to play hard-to-get, and i never felt embarrassed for double--or triple-- texting him. he made me feel so comfortable and so safe and so pretty and so happy and so GOOD! get you a guy who can do all that!!