From Mexico, to Edmonton, to Bellingham, to Vancouver

Whenever the typical introduction questions come up people are very quickly curious as to how a Canadian girl from the flat prairies of Alberta ended up meeting an American from the PNW. My typical response is 'we met volunteering at an Orphanage in Mexico' (I think that's a pretty succinct way of putting it).... but without a doubt the reaction is ALWAYS complete intrigue... 'wow! what a place to meet someone!' 'what a great story to tell!' Little do people know... it didn't go quite so smoothly.

When I actually first met Nick years and years ago, he was 15 years old and still wearing braces. He was 'the little brother' of my friends Erik and Zach. Flash forward a few years, and suddenly Nick had his braces off, grew a few feet, graduated high school and his awkward teenage years were well behind him (so I thought... haha!) and we both ended up in Mexico again, volunteering together for 3 months. Honestly, at first we really were just great friends- he was just 'another one of the Swanson boys'. Over the next 3 months we shared so many joyful and stressful moments- building homes, long work days in the sun, sleep deprivation, beans and rice on repeat, lots of rambunctious kids running around everywhere all the time, late night taco runs, days off, beach and surf sessions. We were so blessed to both be experiencing such an amazing summer..... it's sounding like a pretty ideal environment to start a romance, huh? Well there was one major hiccup.... Nick was so much younger than me- there was NO WAY I would ever even consider dating someone younger than me. But there definitely was something about him... we got along so well. I even remember telling my best friend, Noelle, at one point during the summer "If Nick was a few years older I would marry him!"

Little did I know.... there were two match-makers working hard behind the scenes. Zach (Nick's older brother) and his sister in law Maddie decided Nick and I would be a great match and so they took it upon themselves to get us together. Through all of their scheming and persuasion they basically convinced Nick to confess his love for me. I was pretty surprised- but also definitely excited because deep down, despite the age difference I was definitely interested in him too. Then the panic set in... how am I going to tell my parents that I am dating a guy that is technically a few months younger than my little brother.... yikes. Also- how am I going to tell my parents I am dating an American!?! Needless to say, I mustered the courage to tell my family and suddenly we were full blown dating. So... I'm sure you're imagining us holding hands and walking along the beach in Mexico at sunset- the romantic scenery around us during the first few weeks of the 'honeymoon' phase of our relationship. Well... not so much. To this day we laugh at the hilarious setting of our first kiss- a dirty, dusty hill in Mexico and multiple stray (probably rabid) dogs barking at us. Super romantic. But all jokes aside we truly feel blessed to have met in such a beautiful place, despite the dust, dirt and rabid dogs.

What happened next?! Well two years of long distance dating, both of us flying back and forth between Bellingham and Edmonton to spend a sacred weekend together every few weeks.This got old pretty fast though so we decided to shorten the gap. In September 2017 I accepted a job in Vancouver at BC Children's Hospital, so I am now only an hour drive to Bellingham. Suddenly Nick and I were able to meet up for a quick dinner and a movie date like normal people! After a year of living an hour drive from each other, that got old pretty fast too... and so here we are engaged and ready to finally close that gap once and for all.

In the almost 4 years we've been dating we really have done so much together- in many ways I think we would both agree that we have kind of 'grown up' while dating. We have each accomplished so many goals during this time and it really is amazing that we have been able to be there for each other through so many of our big moments; like Nick's Piano Concerto, both of us graduating from our undergraduate degrees, me (finally) passing the nursing exam and my dream job in Vancouver. We have also seen and done so much- endless mountain adventures hiking and camping, our big trip to Greece, surfing in Tofino, backpacking the West Coast Trail. We even overcame the most difficult time in our relationship.... Nick teaching me how to snowboard. Seriously, that is what almost broke us. My second time ever on a snowboard Nick took me on the 'expert only' chairlift... enough said. But all jokes aside, it has been a beautiful journey and we are beyond thrilled for what is yet to come.... snowboarding trips included!!

If you made it through reading this long-winded, over dramatic, maybe exaggerated story, congratulations.