Growing Up and what I Learned About Love

The backdrop of most of my memories between the ages of 5 and 15 is the neighborhood I grew up in. FM 620 used to be a country road running through the heart of Round Rock, TX. On one end, you find world-famous donuts and a few miles west was the entrance to that community I called home. Longhorn cattle grazed in a field that served as a buffer between the growing traffic and our gray brick house which sat in the back of a cul-de-sac full of families whose kids roamed from the minute school ended until mom shouted that dinner was ready. The creek behind our house held endless adventures, and when it was dry, I’d cross it and run to my friend Lindsay’s back door. We’d put on our best leotards and roller blades and make up figure skating routines in her driveway to Michael Bolton. Or we would ride our bikes belting out Mariah Carey songs until we met the rest of the crew on someone’s backyard trampoline.

Those days formed me. It’s where I learned how to be a friend and how to navigate hurt feelings. It’s where I learned that every family was different and how personalities clicked or clashed. It’s where I laughed until I cried for the first time and then a million times after that. It’s where I tried new things and recovered from my first failures. So many of the friends I made in that neighborhood I still keep in touch with today. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, I feel like there’s an understanding that because of all that history, we’ll always call each other friend. We know things that new friends don’t know. We supported each other through our most unfortunate fashion choices, tough breakups, divorce and even heartbreaking loss. But there’s something special about the bond that those days built that has me reminiscing on this Valentine’s Day 17 years later.

I realize that may sound weird. What on earth do childhood friends have to do with Valentine’s Day in your 30’s? Glad you asked. Let me explain…

You see, those bonds of friendship didn’t come easy. They were built over years and years of shared experiences. Good, bad, ugly, awesome, we were there for it all. Now, in those early innocent days it was because of proximity. We were all friends because our parents chose to live in the same neighborhood and send us to the same school. That’s where we were and we persevered through a lot of life together whether we wanted to or not. My eyes swell up with grateful tears just thinking about that time and the fact that those first friends will be forever dear to me because of that history.

Flash forward – Brandon and I have been married for 10 years, we have two kids and countless things to do. Replace roaming the streets without a care in the world with bills, dreams and a busy schedule. Swap those first butterflies with a quick “love you” on the way out the door and a backyard tiff with unmet expectations. It’s incredibly hard to see the beauty of our relationships in the middle of our normal days. But when I take a minute to do a quick inventory of what we’ve got, my whole being is filled with deep gratitude for this ride we’re on.

Enduring all that life has to offer (the ups and the downs) with other people is the key to fulfilling relationships. And listen, just like those first friends, love is so worth persevering for. It’s definitely not all roses but the product of persevering in relationship is truly a miracle in the making. This is how great love stories are written – by sticking it out long enough to see the beauty. Not the superficial beauty that comes and goes, but the kind built over time by navigating countless highs and lows while remaining side by side.

These days, love is a choice we make every day. We’re no longer friends with people because of where our parents live and most of us get to pick a spouse that we think might still be cool in 50 years. But if we don’t endure through the mundane middle of our relationships, we’ll come up short and miss out on the opportunity to see that it’s because of all the life in between that we grow to love each other even more than we knew was humanly possible when we first met. I appreciate those girls now more than I ever did back in our puffy bangs days. And today, I appreciate every moment that B and I are writing this story together.

We are not perfect, but love sure is. You’re worth it.