How It All Began
It was the summer of 2011. I was going into my senior year at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, and my long-time au pair gig ended just a month before summer vacation started. Here I was, 21 years old and no job to make money going for my last semesters as a college student. After contemplating my options for a week or two, I decided to apply for a job at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH. I knew a few of my friends had worked there in high school and seemed to like the shifts and the pay. “Two months,” I thought as I hit the submit button on my online application. “You only need to make money here for two months.”
Days later, I went in for an interview as a rides operator and was told at that moment I got the job. I received my red polo shirt and was told about the shifts I would be working starting in mid-June. I thanked them for their time and smiled as I walked to my car; I knew this job wouldn’t bring me life-long friends or be something I put on my resume, and I was content and proud of myself for doing what I needed to in order to have some savings when I left for school that August.
My first day I was staffed on the Yankee Cannonball as a grouper, or someone who was responsible for making sure the passengers were tall enough had their seatbelts facined. Management didn’t realize I was old enough to operate rides, and as such I was given one of the easiest jobs at the park. That first day was the day I met Phil, a tall skinny man who was in charge of operating the old wooden coaster. It was our job to get the crowds and riders excited to ride the ride we were staffed on, and Phil seemed more than willing to crack jokes, make funny faces, or sing Micheal Jackson for the riders or his fellow colleagues—anything to make the days go by faster.
As the days progressed that summer, we began to look forward to when we would work the same shifts, better yet, when we would work the same rides. When we were staffed on the same rides, we would laugh and dance and joke…and flirt. When I finally told my family about this cute boy with the amazing smile I would hang out with at Canobie, my sisters and brother immediately bought tickets to the park to check him out. We agreed, that he was totally my type and did indeed, have a stellar smile.
At the same time, Phil, who had worked at Canobie for almost five years at this point, would consistently tell his friends who also worked at the park about how cute I was. Those adorable khaki Bermuda shorts and that red polo seemed to fit me differently than the rest of his friends; the uniform that was supposed to make everyone look the same, to him, seemed to allow my unique personality shine through.
Though we were open to telling others about our feelings and attraction towards each other, we never spent time together outside of work. I was still treating this like a summer job, and a means to an end. And Phil was a little intimidated by my independent personality. It wasn’t until after I left for school that our relationship truly started to bud. Still, we credit this little park in Salem, NH with building the foundation of our relationship.
The Early Days
Yes, we do admit that social media did eventually bring us together. This was still before the days of the dating app boom or even before Snapchat or Instagram, but because we never did exchange numbers, Facebook messages was how it all began. My first weekend back on Endicott’s idyllic campus, Phil wrote on my wall asking if I had already left for school. I responded with yes, and that I was sorry I didn’t say bye — at that moment, my roommate Kelley, convinced me to direct message Phil and ask if he wanted to come to our welcome back party that night. And amazingly, Phil said yes. That very night, Phil came down, taught everyone how to dougie, and won over my heart by giving me a piggyback ride back to my room since my feet hurt from the annoyingly uncomfortable shoes I decided to wear out that night.
You see, me and Phil joke about it to this day, this our only true serious relationship, and neither of us would’ve committed to each other unless we thought it was the right move. Both of us had flings and shorter relationships, in school, but the long-term love game was something we wanted to commit to fully and completely. We wanted to enjoy the leisurely stroll of the ‘courting’ days of a relationship, rather than run head first into something that could fail.
After three months of movie dates, hiking dates, and many conversations about how dogs were a must (even though Phil was terrified of them), Phil formally asked me to be his girlfriend on November 23, 2011, after watching Hugo in the Londonderry, NH movie theater. Spoiler alert, I yes.
What We’ve Been Up to Since Then
Some couples have a five year plan, lists and ideas of what they want in a life together. Marriage and commitment, families and babies, buying or building a home, and putting down roots in one location usually top lists like these. Most of the time the itemized checklist is checked off one by one, in a methodical manner that suits the couple – some start with the house, then the marriage and babies, others want the marriage, babies and then a home. We have great respect for these couples who know, without question, that this is what they want in the next five years.
Phil and I? Well our five year plan looks a little different, partially because, for us, it looked more like a 10 year plan. Our list has items like watch the sunset at the edge of the world, eat the most decadent chocolate cake you can find, float in crystal clear blue waters of an ocean, or make friends with a working sheepdog in the green hills of Ireland (still regret not bringing that pup back with us). Other more attainable experiences like walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, experience Christmas in New York City, and sip a glass of wine in Napa Valley also have a coveted place on this list.
We’ve been together for nearly eight years, and by the time our wedding ceremony takes place we will be approaching 10 years of a committed relationship. And, as most couples do, our list has evolved to include a couple more ‘life’ moments. We want to have the most adorable family, which will first include babies of the fur variety. We want to live in a craftsman-style home somewhere in New England, maybe with some chickens (if Phil caves, fingers crossed). And, we want to celebrate our love and commitment with an intimate party with our closest friends and family. These were on our long-term list—ladies and gentlemen, we have decided that 10 years is long enough.
Some of you may have been asking, why did you wait so long? It all goes back to something we have heard from our elders; time and time again we hear from our wiser generations is how youth is wasted on the young. And we both agree. We don’t want to waste it. We want to be fit enough to jump out of plane in Dubai, ride horses in Montana, or bungee jump in Queenstown. We want to walk or run through the streets of Bangkok. We want to conquer the Great Wall of China or even just the steps of the Bunker Hill Monument. We want to take the advice of our elders and LIVE.
So while we will be in wedding planning mode for the next year or so, know this, we won’t stop traveling and living life that feels best to us. We will continue to live the way we know how, together, and experiencing all this world has to offer!