This is still one of my favourite mini books that I’ve made. I don’t think I’ve actually told our story on the blog. At the time when we got together I mentioned the party we were at, in December I cryptically posted this and the next Valentine’s Day I posted this. Our story goes back much further than 2009 – all the way back to 1996 and my first year of university.
The idea with this little book was to reference our history but to store the memories of our first year as a couple. I had bought this Corban & Blair album because I loved it and had no plan in mind at the time for how to use it. It has a luxurious feel to it with the leather cover and elastic ribbon. It fitted perfectly for the story I wanted to tell.
The first page is a photograph of our initials that I’d taken in the back yard. I printed the photo 6×4 with a white border for simplicity. I love how clean the page is but it says so much.
Simon and I met online. Waaaaaay before ‘met online’ had the stigma attached to it that there seems to be now. Bestie had moved into one of the UOW colleges and through her I met some geeky people, who led me to other geeky people and I was introduced to IRC. Simon lived in Townsville at the time but was already well known in the IRC and online world. We just clicked and we ended up having our own ‘channel’ called #chaos where we’d talk about everything, anything and nothing. This page is something I made up to look like an IRC screen, with a typical conversation that we’d have on a regular basis (Simon saw it and asked ‘Where did you get that?!’ I knew I’d nailed it!).
I wanted space for more journaling but I didn’t want to overwhelm the pages. My solution was to create pockets behind the photos and slip in cards from my Project Life kit. I sized the pocket so the tab at the top was higher than the pages and the years that I wrote on each side could be seen.
From when Simon and I met I always considered him my best friend. I knew he felt more for me but I was scared of losing my friend when I inevitably ruined things. In those days I was a huge flirt but I was scared of someone hurting me, so I’d do the hurting and get out first. I met The Ex in 1997 and that was it for me. We broke up briefly at the end of 1999 and I remember Simon asking me if there was a chance for us. I again told him that I valued our friendship too much to ruin it. Hindsight says I was scared but I wasn’t ready for a relationship with Simon. I would have taken his kindness and generosity for granted, I would have treated him appallingly and I was heading down a terrible path to bipolar which would leave me a shadow of the person I could have been.
This photo was taken in 1999 during one of Simon’s visits to Sydney. Across the photo I wrote all the things we used to do from falling asleep on the phone together, to jokes we shared and trips we’d taken together. Yes, I can see we were meant for each other (everyone else did even then) but as I said, I wasn’t ready and I thought I’d found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with in someone else.
Simon moved from Townsville to Wollongong in late 1999. He and his then partner became part of a little ‘group of six’ that was my circle of friends. This photo is from one of our group weekends at The Ex’s parent’s property where we’d all head up on a Friday night, they’d all set up the telescope and cameras and Simon and I would sit inside, in the warmth, and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer together. Yes, yes! I know it was obvious! This photo was likely taken by one of our ex’s but it shows me our friendship was always strong. Looking at it now, I’m guessing even the ex’s probably thought maybe we were with the wrong people!
This is what Simon told Steph when he got back from the Halloween party. It sums up the inbetween years perfectly I think! I used it here because it felt like a bookmark between the time we were friends and the time when we were ready to share our lives together. The background paper is Heidi Grace.
The ‘Before’ on the tab refers to the morning of the Halloween party before Simon arrived with some other friends. We had a large group of mutual friends and we’d both been invited to TJ’s 40th by Dove. By this time Simon was living in Rockhampton and I was living in Ballina. The Ex and I split in 2007 and Simon and his ex split the same year. They had left Wollongong in 2005 to move to Rockhampton and I hadn’t seen him in years. We had kept in touch through emails, Facebook, instant messaging, occasionally IRC and text messages. Even though we didn’t talk all the time, I still counted Simon as one of my closet friends.
Side story. In late 2007 my Dad said to me that Simon had always cared for me and maybe I should think about the possibility of a relationship with Simon. I thought it was a great idea and I texted or emailed Simon or something (too long ago) and he turned me down. I’ve since asked him why and he said it took all his strength to say no but he knew I was still so unwell, that it was too soon for me after leaving The Ex and I was not ready. He was, of course, right but I was heartbroken. Strangely, the thought never crossed my mind and I didn’t entertain the idea again.
The minute Simon walked in, we never left each other’s side that night. I can’t tell you what changed specifically but I looked into those brown eyes and I was ready. I was finally in a place where a relationship with this amazing man was going to work. I didn’t even worry about the logistics of Ballina to Rockhampton, strange in itself for me as I usually worry about every ‘what if?’ scenario! So, this is the first photo taken of us as a couple and everyone knew that night it had finally happened. The only thing we heard from our friends was ‘About time!’ and ‘You should have been with him all along!’. Yes, yes. It was obvious! I know!
So, our first year together involved a lot of travel between Rockhampton and Ballina, as well as short trips to other places. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard but I never thought it would break us apart. Simon planned to move to Brisbane and it took slightly longer than I’d hoped for it to happen, but I knew this travel wouldn’t be forever. On this page are three photos of us together from different times of that first year.
And a couple more photos and a pocket journal card. Don’t you love the photo strip? Simon makes me laugh everyday and I love that pure glee on my face. The first line of the journal card says ‘It’s been an amazing year!’ and it was in every way.
Let me tell you, this boy spoilt me with flowers in that first year. Not just on days where I knew he might send flowers, like Valentine’s Day, but other times when I was sick or stressed or just needed cheering up. The large photo of the tulips in the middle was from Floriade in Canberra that we’d recently been to.
I love this paper and I think I have another sheet somewhere and I’ll dig it out and find who makes it. The envelope and sticker are both from a Kikki.K letter set. Inside is a card with a more personal note just for Simon.
The final page is more of that gorgeous paper, a photo that I carry in my wallet with me and a final journal card. Our anniversary was the weekend Simon was moving to Brisbane and the future was bright. It was the next step in our journey, one where I was to move to Brisbane and live every day with this amazing man and now to being engaged.
When I gave it to Simon he was blown away and said that it was so special to him because it was us. I was just thinking that I should do another mini-book for other years of our story but that’s what Project Life is to me. Our shared story.
Thanks for sharing this tour through our first year together.