I left the last story time post with the spring of 2008, when I was coming to the end of my 3 years as a missionary, and had to find my “next step” in life.
I will add that this is “my side” of the story. Maybe with enough peer pressure Brian will give in and add his comments and corrections. Let’s see.
In April of that year (the same April that Pope Benedict was visiting DC and New York) a priest who had known me and my family for years approached me with what sounded like the most random opportunity. He knew of a Catholic movie producer living in Miami who was looking to hire a new personal assistant. It was out of the blue and not something that I had been looking for, at all, but I was encouraged to at least look into it. So I updated my resume and sent it in. With in a few days I had a phone interview, which turned out to be one of the craziest moments of my life.
I spoke with the man who was looking for a new assistant for 20-30 minutes and it was a great conversation, then he told me that he always tries to be home at a certain time to greet his wife every day, so he had to go, but could we please continue this conversation tomorrow in person? I remember being totally confused. I was in DC, he lived in Miami, I tried to point out politely. He said something to the effect of “yes, and your point?” And told me to talk to his current personal assistant and she would arrange the details. I tried to not sound shocked. But his sweet assistant did arrange for me to fly down with in a day or two to finish the interview and get a sense of the job. I hung up the phone and ran, RAN out to get a new outfit for the interview.
After meeting in person, it was decided that I would move down to Florida as soon as possible (which ended up being the day after seeing Pope Benedict in DC, since I had hard to get tickets, I fought hard to stay at least that long) and I would stay in Miami for the spring on a trial basis to ensure it was the right fit. Being a personal assistant at this level was really a his-life-becomes-my-life kind of job, with no set hours, no “time off” and it really had to be the right person to embrace that kind of work.
I moved down and got settled. We were actually living and working on a small island just off the coast of down town Miami, called Key Biscayne. It was like a small town in the center, with HUGE mansions around the shoreline, some beautiful beaches, the only hotel was the Ritz Carlton resort, and the locals drive golf carts around in stead of cars.
The man who had interviewed me is a very wealthy Catholic entrepreneur who has been involved with a number of very interesting projects. At the time he was trying to build companies that could positively affect Hollywood and the media, and had been a producer of the award winning film Bella which came out in 2006 and had a strong pro life message. The movie had been one of the first to be successfully released in theaters through grassroots marketing (no big name studio behind it) and now we were involved in the DVD release and the use of grassroots tactics to promote other films with good values.
I was working on organizing the internships across the country, screening and accepting interns who would spend the spring and summer with us or working for us remotely. The head of the internship kept talking to me about these two hilarious brothers who had been interns during the summer previous and were just so awesome and so talented and so hilarious that we just had to get them back. I sent a few invitations and did a bit of follow up, and it worked out that one of the “hilarious brothers” would be able to join us. My boss was ecstatic, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I had also been able to recruit a friend from my missionary years who ended up coming from Mexico to be an intern, and it is thanks to her that I have any of the following pictures! I don’t even know if I had a camera at the time! Thanks Mane!
Brian arrived June 3. I issued him a work cell phone and showed him where he would be living and business business here’s the program, nice to meet you, have a good day.
I was sort of his boss at his point. I was sort of “project manager” for the (almost all female – except for him) interns, and would give them projects or tasks for each day and they would check in at the end of the day. We were usually working in different offices and on very different things, and the schedule called for some team building dinners or activities a few days a week, but at first I was all business, all the time.
I had at this point decided that the role of Personal Assistant was not something that was the best use of my skills and talents. So I was working on arranging my life to go back home to Canada before the end of the month. As a “mature” (over 21) student and a homeschool graduate without the standard government highschool diploma, my University admission was a little more complicated, and I wanted to get back to Calgary before my sister moved away to begin her time as a missionary July 1.
That left between June 3 when Brian arrived and June 25th, when I left to go back to Canada for our whole lives to be changed.
It turned out he really WAS hilarious, and charming, and much more fun to work beside, that alone in my office. So I started finding excuses to work on things together with him. We stayed late at the office, once with a pack of Heineken, we often decided on the same place to go for lunch during our work day, or ended up at the same pool or beach after work.
Since our work day began with the opportunity to go to Mass, and Brian was the only Catholic man (there were two guys at that point) I offered to go pick up him up each morning, in a golf cart, to bring him to Mass every morning.
It was quickly becoming obvious (to my friends…later to me) that I was falling for this guy. But he would not make a move. He was kind and considerate to every person, made ALL the girls laugh, was extremely gentlemanly and respectful all around. So I really didn’t know if he had the same kind of feelings I was developing. And I really didn’t know what to do with the “I’m leaving in a week and will never see you again” reality.
On my “Bucket List” before leaving Florida was to go to Orlando to spend a day at an amusement park. I love, LOVE, roller coasters and Disneyland, and all that kind of thing. Since time was running out, I organized a day trip for any interns who wanted to come up to Universal Studios for the day.
The day together turned out to be a perfect opportunity to get “separated” from the group, (the group of girls were in their own way helping to give us the opportunity to spend some time talking) and while I was on a mission to ride every single big, fast, scary, spinney, gravity defying ride that I could possibly find, Brian seemed to happily come along. We had great conversations in the line ups, getting to know each other better, as well as “sitting down for a few minutes” after each ride… which I later (much later!!) learned was because Brian is not a fan of rides, AT ALL! That he actually gets terrible motion sickness and it was probably one of the most unpleasant days of his life. But he never said a word. And is willing to do crazy things for love, apparently!
The drive home was long, but it was an opportunity for my sweet considerate Brian to ask if if he could hold my hand on the way home.
That was the turning point. We arrived home quite late and I asked if he would help me cross another item off my bucket list – watching the sun rise on the beach. We stayed up til sun rise on the beach together. Not even talking (too tired and happy to have real conversation at that point).
And in the few days that followed, before I flew home to Canada, we spent every moment we could in deep conversation, and in deep prayer, trying to really know if this could work out some how. There was an adoration chapel at the Church on the island, and in one particular visit I remember begging God to not give me clarity, but to help Brian know whether our relationship was really what He wanted for us, and whether we would be able to survive a very long, long distance future. Brian has told me that that time before the Eucharist left him with a very strong conviction to “go for it” and so we decided we would do whatever we could to continue our relationship.
We had time for one “real date” on June 23rd, before I moved home to Canada two days later. He picked me up on a golf cart, took me to a lovely Peruvian restaurant, we had a delicious dinner together, and then a walk through what turned out to be a nature reserve (potentially filled with alligators… oops) which was when he called my father and asked whether he would approve of us dating.
We ended up on the beach again, asking important questions like…
“Can I call you my ‘girlfriend?'”
and “can I kiss you?”
The last night was my “good bye” dinner with all the interns, and then I was off, back to Calgary, only 3 weeks after meeting Brian and our 3 years of long distance dating began.
Thousand and thousands of cell phone minutes and skype calls and emails later… here we are.