With love in the air, I wanted to share something a little different on the blog today. Ilir, my boyfriend, (and amazing blog photographer + cheerleader) and I are both telling our version of how our little love story started and how we keep it going even across the country. We both answered these questions completely on our own, so I was a bit nervous Ilir would make this totally embarrassing, but he told me he wouldn’t do that to me on my blog (haha, let’s cross our fingers). Hope you enjoy! XO
How did you first meet?
Kylie: Our story doesn’t start in the most romantic of places… Instead it began in a sweaty, smelly high school weight room filled with overly confident, super awkward high school kids. But one of those overly-confident kids (haha!) caught my eye. Ilir was a junior and there for basketball and I was a freshman and there for cross country. We bumped into each other in the back corner, but awkwardly didn’t say a word. That night, I of course used my sleuthing skills to check out who this kid was on Facebook… And feeling bold at the time, I sent him a Facebook request. AH!
A couple days later we bumped into each other again in the weight room and he totally calls me out. “Hey, are you the girl you friend requested me on Facebook.” OMG, smooth Ilir. “Oh, I don’t know!” Oh, I knew.
Too bad we don’t have a cuter first encounter than that, haha! You are probably cringing reading it (I am cringing writing it), but I’d say it was worth it since it led to something pretty incredible!
Ilir: We met in the high school weight room. Most people that know the both of us wouldn’t be shocked (I workout daily and she’s a cute health freak). Ky was a runner whose team just won state a few weeks prior and I was just a scrub football player. Well, this scrub football player’s life was about to change forever.
Kylie: He was not a scrub… He went on to play college football and was a two-time captain! Also look up “ESPN college kick catch.” He’s famous. 😉
I remember when I first laid eyes on her like it was yesterday. I had just finished a set of squats. I turned around and saw this unfamiliar beautiful smile and stunning gaze that changed my life that very second. I actually didn’t even notice that I was staring until she caught me in the act. I’ll never forget that first look we gave each other. Why you may ask? Because about two seconds into her catching me weirdly staring at her I finally realized that I was being creepy so I quickly and awkwardly turned around. Hindsight, it was kind of funny but I was beyond embarrassed at the time.
Back to the story! Later that evening I got a friend request on Facebook! Yes, she requested me first. I can’t really explain the type of excitement I was having at that point but just imagine the funny video of the kid opening up an avocado for Christmas and multiply his excitement by about a billion – that’ll give you a better idea. I obviously accepted it!
I knew that I had to be back in the weight room at the same time if I wanted to possibly see her again. Well, my brilliant plan worked! I actually ran into her a couple days later in the hallway right outside the weight room. This is where my “brilliant plan” became not so brilliant. I didn’t take into account was what I would say or do if I saw her.
I awkwardly said, “Hey! Aren’t you the girl that requested me on Facebook last night?” Note to self: that is probably the worst icebreaker I could have ever said. For you single fellas out there who have yet to find Mrs. Right, do NOT ever ask a girl that question… Ky responded and basically said she didn’t think so and walked away. How awkward! The worst part was that I knew she was the one that requested me! How could I ever forget that striking smile on such a beautiful girl? I couldn’t! I was 110% positive it was Ky and she had just rejected me!
Fortunately for me, I got a message later that night from her saying that she “checked” and she was in fact the girl who friend requested me. I think it’s safe to say my icebreaker worked!
What happened from there and when did it become real?
Kylie: We talked on and off throughout high school, but of course, we don’t make things easy. We didn’t start seriously talking until the summer before Ilir was leaving for college two hours away. I didn’t really think anything would happen between us after he left, since he’d be on to bigger and better things in college, playing football and doing amazing things. The night before he left, I was wearing his sweatshirt and when I tried to give it back, he told me to keep it so he’d have to see me again soon. Slightly smoother than his weight room pick-up line. 😉
I spent that fall taking the luxurious Amtrak up to visit him every couple of weeks and to see him play. My family (who of course loves Ilir too) even joined me several weekends to see his games, too. Aside from the distance in between us, things were feeling pretty great.
When Ilir came home for winter break, he FINALLY (and I was getting quite impatient 😉 and he knew that) asked me to officially be his girlfriend. His intention was to ask me on 12-12-12, the last time in our life the numbers of a dateline would all the be same, but at the time, I had decided I waited long enough for him to officially ask me, so I was done and refused to go on a date with him that day. HA! Classic me, messing up his idea because I was so stubborn. Little did I know, he wasn’t stringing me along, he had something cute planned. Oops!
A couple weeks later, he did official ask me to be his girlfriend on a day trip to Chicago from the suburbs with a fortune cookie. So high school, but so cute!
Ilir and I dated long-distance while I finished up high school and he was two hours away at college. After graduation, I headed to the University of Iowa, and we continued the two-hour-away distance relationship, just a different direction.
After Ilir graduated, he landed an amazing coaching job in South Carolina… which was a bit further than our average two hour travel to see each other. But we’ve made it work and it has been so much fun exploring new places.
Five years later, and ALL of it being long-distance minus winter breaks and summers, we are still going strong and I couldn’t be happier!
Ilir: For starters, I am a complete idiot. I first met her in December of 2010 but we didn’t start “officially” dating until December of 2012. Yes, TWO whole years. In those two years we occasionally talked and hung out every few months here and there, but nothing big. It was the opposite of what a romantic story should sound like. And, it was completely my fault.
It took me up until right before I was graduating to notice that I was making a huge mistake, but at that point it felt too late. I was heading off to school in two months. Ky said it herself – it would only be a summer fling. I didn’t want that.
We began talking daily and hanging out when we had some free time. Next thing you know, I was leaving for school in two days. I gave her my hoodie and told her to give it to me next time I saw her because I didn’t want that day to be the last. Let’s just say I’m very thankful to get that hoodie back! That fall, I saw her when I came home for a weekend and Ky ended up coming to a couple of my football games.
I eventually came home for winter break and finally used my head. Ky had every intangible. Intelligent. Cute. Goofy. Everything I wanted. What was I waiting for? I then realized that I needed to finally go after the girl of my dreams that had been so close to yet so far from the past two years. For those of you reading that don’t know Ky too well, let me share a quick note with you: Ky can get sassy and impatient. That’ll give you an idea of how difficult it was to get her to go on a date with me after waiting for so long. I think it’s fair to say that it was more challenging than the Cubs winning the World Series after an 108 year drought.
In regards to when we became “real,” to be completely honest, I always knew it was real. There are certainly times that add more “realness” to our relationship, like the time I gave her a fortune cookie and asked her to be my girlfriend, but it has always felt real to me.
One of our most recent experiences where I truly felt the “realness” was last summer. I currently live in South Carolina and she’s in Chicago. She was flying down for a long weekend vacation. I had the entire weekend planned, but there was a slight hiccup. Long story short, her flight landed in Raleigh (3+ hours from me) but her bags ended up where her original flight was supposed to land, Charlotte (1+ hour from me), and we were heading to Savannah the next morning (4+ hours from me in the opposite direction), which caused a huge mess. Ky was understandably getting flustered to say the least and I felt terrible since there wasn’t much I could do.
She had been waiting over an hour by the time I got to Raleigh. Seeing her walk out of that airport felt like a happy ending in a chick-flick (yes, I watch those with her). Being able to hug her and tell her everything was going to be alright (although my mind was still racing about how the heck we were going to retrieve her bags that landed in Charlotte 2 hours prior but I wasn’t going to tell her that) was well worth the chaos. I remember thinking to myself on the way back to my place after grabbing her bags in Charlotte, “I can’t believe she’s this happy right now even though she had every reason to hate the day.” My life is pretty amazing with her in it.
How do you keep it going?
Kylie: Distance has not been easy – that’s for sure. We make a lot of sacrifices and miss a lot of things. But, all of these challenges have been absolutely worth it. We have learned to value our time together so much more and have really learned to appreciate every second we get to spend together. Distance has helped us grow as individuals and has allowed us to follow our passions while still being there for each other. At the end of the day, we are only one phone call, FaceTime or flight away and I don’t know what I would do without this goofball of mine!
Ilir: I get asked this question quite often. As difficult as the distance and being apart from one another for longer periods of time can be (since we do live on opposite ends of the nation), being able to keep it going is easier than most would think. There’s something about her that makes everything worth it and I wish I could put it into words. One thing I can tell you is that it’s comforting to know my best friend is always there for me. Hearing her say I love you at the end of everyday is more than I could ever ask for.