It struck me the other day that I never shared the photos from our engagement shoot with James Simmons. I figured they would provide the perfect pictorial oppertunity to tell the story of how Reece & I fell in love.
I've never been a 'princess fairy tale' kind of girl. I had a very rough time with relationships as a teenager and things only got worse as I progressed through my 20's. Despite all of that, I am a romantic at heart. I believe in certain fates and I subscribe to the theory that in order to fall madly in love with the right person, we need to be caught off guard. I certainly was when I started dating Reece; in more ways than one.
We first met when we were both training at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts; him in set and costume design, and myself in Arts Management. I had only just begun my studies and he was in his final year. To be brutally honest, I just assumed he was gay. Most of the men at the academy were. His camp and effervescent demeanour did nothing to quell my lazy assumption. We crossed paths at a few parties here and there. I noticed he had spectacular eyes, but that was about it.
Reece will have you believe that he had his eye on me from the outset. He says he noticed the "cute redhead" in the hallway outside of a theatre one day. Its entirely possible he did. I was in a long term relationship at the time, and thus most likely oblivious to any kind of attentions directed my way.
At the end of that year, he graduated and went out into the world of professional design, and I stayed on, not really giving him a second thought.
It wasn't until years later that our paths would cross again. We ended up working on the same show; he as the set and costume designer and myself as the publicist. I had just gotten out of a serious long term relationship. After going through a highly emotional break up, I really wasn't looking to open my heart again anytime soon.
Over the course of this particular show, Reece and I re-connected and found ourselves spending a lot of time together. Not wanting to go back to any empty house and be alone each night, I'd volunteer to stay with him to paint pieces of set or build props into the wee hours. I really got to know him on a different level, and found comfort in the fact he seemed to have absolutely no inhibitions about him. He was unashamedly himself; and contrary to his unfair reputation as a bit of a Lothario, a complete and utter gentleman. He was patient and gentle as a friend in the moments I found myself reeling from my recent break up. Never pushy, always respectful.
I was throwing myself into my work to stay busy, which meant I was spending a lot of time with the cast and crew of the show. That meant lots of late nights at the theatre and post rehearsal drinks. Eventually, one night after wrap up - we had our first kiss in his parked car before he dropped me home (while his best mate was asleep in the back seat. Awkies). The unexpected chemistry between us had been mounting for some time, but we'd been fighting in inevitable.
I freaked out that I was rushing into something too soon, despite my very strong connection with him - I put it on the shelf for a few months to try and get my head straight. It was an exercise in futility. All I could think of was Reece. I'd never shared such an instant and deep connection with a man before. I began to panic that I was pushing away the type of relationship I deserved, or making decisions based on what other might think. When we met up again and he asked me in the sweetest and most nervous voice to be his girlfriend, I was over the moon, and hastily accepted. You couldn't wipe the grin off my face that night, and the moment is still vivid in my memory.
It really was a "to hell with the rest of the world, this is worth the chance" moment.
We dated for over a year; and in that time, I purchased my very first apartment by the beach (the very same beach featured in these photos). Reece helped me move in, and over time became part of the furniture. I knew things were getting serious when I cleared half of my double wardrobe to move his immense collection in. We adopted Pia, our cheeky Papillon who has become such a feature in our lives we can't image us without her.
A few months after our first anniversary, we decided to book our first trip abroad. I met Reece in Prague after a design convention and we drove ourselves through the south of France, ending our journey in Paris. We grew so close as we navigated the French countryside. On our final night in Paris, we had dinner at a local wine bar where the big question was popped, on one knee, in front of a captive restaurant. I know its just about every cliche in the book, but my man is a big cheese-ball and that is part of his endearing charm. I wouldn't have changed a thing. The moment was just perfect; and so us.
In the 2+ years since the fateful night we became an item, Reece has become a part of my very being and his kindness has cracked open some very dark parts of me to let the light in.
Thats not to say we're a perfect couple. I don't believe anyone is. We're two very stubborn and fiercely passionate people, and we certainly have our moments of heated disagreement; but we continue to support each other through it, and stretch our selves and our perceptions beyond what we ever imagined to facilitate this big fat love that we have. That is a part of our love I'm also very grateful for.
I wake up every day in awe of his unique and positive spirit. You'll never meet a more honest or well intentioned soul. I feel like I caught the big fish, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.