Before Anyone Else

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Going with the flow has always been my preferred approach to life, and I was never a tick-off-the-boxes kinda person; so there was no sequence of anything throughout my life that I thought I had to follow.
Getting married was no exception.

My views on breakups, relationships and marriage were deemed strange.
For me, break-ups had always merited celebration, like a new lease on life.
My freedom and space were far too valuable, to harbour serious thoughts of being hooked, and there just was no quantifying trade-off.

Never crying over spilt milk was my motto.


A Significant Past Relationship

It was at the heart of my demanding career; married to my job, and going through the motions of what felt like an extra-marital affair with my boyfriend.
It was job before anyone else (JBAE).
Experiencing personal transformation, and becoming a responsible, emulative young-lady, I channelled my best attributes into the requirements of a Head Concierge at a luxurious top resort in the Caribbean.

My ex (a local in the city), was charming, strong personality, and somewhat relationship-challenged. Our kindred oddities made us almost 100% compatible ("almost" being the operative word.)

I'd changed jobs and gone to live in another city, which afforded me the time to focus on my marriage (my job), and I'd continue the affair with my boyfriend.

Our relationship was like an entangled knot incapable of loosening; then shockingly, our relationship came to an abrupt, painful end.

Reflecting, I was angry for wasting 7 years of my life.

I felt hurt and betrayed, all the same, a deep sense of care and connection, which made me overestimate my ability to forgive and forget.


Out of character, I rekindled that old relationship; an action I regretted instantly.
To say the least, I was doggone disappointed and felt like I was short changing myself.

Was I at the point of no return?

Although I was unhappy in my rekindled relationship, I wasn't on the prowl; but I was emotionally distant.
I was long gone!

Then, on one particular morning; my boyfriend dropped me off at work. I walked away from the car knowing that our relationship was like a time bomb, and this time the onus of the breakup would be solely on me. However, that was a blame I was willing to take, and would not let it deter me from doing what was best for me, as I needed to put myself before anyone else.

As I turned the corner, to make my way to the my office, I nearly bumped into a half naked guy, who in a pleasing kind voice, remarked "you look nice!" I replied thank you, and ran up the stairs to my office.

Without giving much thought to that encounter, a few days went by.

Walking across the hotel lobby, I recognised the face to be that of the half naked man. Beckoning him over, he was stunned.
I learned his name Cameron @scubahead, and discovered that he was the relief scuba instructor on loan, and I told him I was the public relations manager. I perceived nervous reaction, and did my best to prolong the conversation, while observing how nice a person he seemed.

Working at the same resort, it was natural for us to run into each other, which was always the highlight of my day. We would always have little conversations enquiring about each other's day, and we started to arrange to have our break times together. I always enjoyed his travel stories, and I'd also get the chance to learn what was happening in the diving department of the resort.
Most importantly, I loved looking in his green eyes, and seeing him try to contain his little shy smile, (a reflection of myself, as I was doing the same).
It soon became obvious that we were both attracted to each other.

Obstructively, we were both complicated.
Cameron was in a relationship; one he described as "fitting a square peg in a round hole", and I was miserable, feeling like I'd fallen into a monkey's cage, and I'd grown tired of playing tricks.

Cameron would come and go, as he spent his years diving between Jamaica and Africa, and for the first time in my life, I dabbled with the concept of before anyone else (BAE) — as my strict job before anyone else principle, went through the window whenever Cameron was in town.

There was always an open channel of communication between us, because there was something special about the way I felt when thoughts of Cameron engrossed my mind, frequently.

Sticking it out with my old relationship, I tried to convince myself that the timing for Cameron and myself just wasn't right, and maybe I should just follow through with my agreed commitment to try again.
Still, I kept pondering, have I passed the point of no return?
Deep in my heart, I knew I needed to rid myself of the monkey be honest with my boyfriend and to myself.

Destiny, or a stroke of good luck, and that relationship dissolved.

Permanently.

With the monkey off my back, and divorced from my job Detached, with an effective job resignation, I was free to take on new ventures.
A new chapter? No, it was more like a new book.


I kept my "free status" to myself, as I needed time with, and for myself.

'My phone rings and seeing Cameron's name makes me smile.'

He always had the natural ability to make me laugh.
Cameron said he was in Jamaica, now single, and he asked his usual question:

Is your granddad still alive?

That phrase always incited laughter, as it was my former grey-back monkey that he referred to as my granddad, because there was a big age gap between my ex and I.

We arranged a date, where Cameron expressed his special feelings for me and said he wanted us to be together.
I told Cameron that I believed his expressed words were true, and that I felt the same, but my life was at a crossroads, and I'd made plans to leave Jamaica, to go and live in the Netherlands for a while.
It was an emotional evening.


Months went by, and I'd immersed myself to adapt to the Dutch culture; the new way of life presented many challenges, however I had the time to focus on myself wholeheartedly.
Thoughts of Cameron were always foremost in my mind.

It was the e-mail era, and I'd received a message from Cameron who was checking to see how my life was in the Netherlands.

We had many late night conversations, and started to know more about each other. Cameron was now back in Africa, and we both decided it would be nice for him to come and visit me in the Netherlands, and he had the idea that it would be great for both of us to be in an unfamiliar new environment, and suggested that we pick somewhere we both had never been before.
Prague appealed to us both.

Excited I was.


Dinner date for steak at an Argentinian restaurant in Leiden, Netherlands.


Special moments with bae

I experienced Holland in a new and different way. Cameron rode my bike while I sat croggy/backy style making our way to have a picnic by the lake. It was Springtime, and tulips surrounding windmill houses made it easier to process how amazing it was for us to be together away from Jamaica.
Reflecting on earlier years, I wish I had taken the plunge then, but I realised nothing happens before the time, and I knew this was our time.
I didn't want this moment to end.
We knew we had to find a way to be together.

Being with Cameron has always felt natural and real. I've always enjoyed his company, and never felt the need to be anyone else but myself. He was always accepting and amused by my oddities, and I knew he couldn't help notice and smile at my quirky habits. That I admired because I'm just a take or leave it kinda gal anyway.

Best Trip Ever, was a quick trip from the Netherlands to Prague.
While there, meandering on Charles Bridge, we took in the magic of Prague.
Prague was like a fantasy land.
A new feeling was taking over me.
Was this fantasy-like land making me imagine impossible things?
Is this only fantasy, I thought?
It was something I never felt before.
Something I thought I was incapable of feeling.
With butterflies in my stomach, I felt a bit scared.
Is this love, I wondered.
I knew it was...
I said YES!


Two worlds collided, and became one.
We have grown individually, together.
We've grown as a couple.

We've shared many special happy moments together, and many sad ones.
We've weathered many storms.

Cameron and I acknowledge that all relationships are different, and neither of us can really look at the relationships of our parents, or anyone else as role models.
We believe it's up to us as a couple to design and create what makes us both happy, and what works for us, before anyone else.

We've lived in different places, and have faced adversities
We've had our shares of ups and downs as a couple, but we've always come out stronger, and we've always remained connected and committed to each other.

My bae; my ride or die!

It's always been a bit of yin and yang; we're so similar yet so different.

We're at a point in our lives with much uncertainty, yet it's what we both agree to be the time when we've both felt happiest and content with each other, and our lives.
One thing we do have in common is a love for traveling and exploring different cultures and places, and now we're happy living the dream on a narrowboat, exploring and discovering 2000 miles of English waterways.

At this moment, we're having the time of our lives - ever-changing backyard views, dining with water views and beautiful sunsets with fields of endless greenery, mountains, hills and valleys, in the country which holds much significance in Cameron's life, and much significance to our early years of marriage.
Just us two, before anyone else.

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Marriage with bae has taught me many great lessons: I've discovered the importance of feeling a sense of freedom in a relationship, and the importance of having respect for each other.
Perseverance, as it's easy to quit when faced with adversities.
Never to lose sight of each other, as it takes two to hold things together, and most importantly, the importance of keeping your individual identity in a marriage.

They say it's important to find someone that you can live with, for a marriage to work, but for me I found someone I wouldn't want to live without.
I feel lucky to have Cameron in my life, as I'd be lost without him.
I don't know what the future holds, no one does; but for now, I'm happy I found love and came to realise that marriage is not a life sentence, but a beautiful commitment between two persons, who put each other first, before anyone else.



Written for the #BAE, an initiative by the The Weekend community in conjunction with EGGSTA, @edenmichelle.

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