I don’t believe in soulmates. There are just too many people in the world for that to make sense, how would you ever find “the one”? How would you know they are the right one? The concept of “soulmates” originated with a myth about four-armed four-legged creatures that were split in half and sent to roam the earth looking for their other half, doomed to feel incomplete until they found each other. In reality, I think there are many many matches that could be not only okay, but blissfully happy together, it’s about committing to work together and grow together and love together after the falling in love part.

But Brian and I are soulmates.

Two halves of a whole. Destined for each other. Incomplete without each other. The exception to the rule.

Our love story started with a series of near misses.

We actually grew up only about 15 minutes away from each other in Northern California. Our towns played each other in sports. We attended some of the same church activities. We went to the same malls, parks, and local landmarks. But we never met, at least not that we know of.

When Brian was 18, his family moved to Reno, NV. Soon after, he left for a two-year church mission. He planned on attending Brigham Young University when he returned.

I did attend BYU. But a couple of months into my sophomore year I was struggling with health issues. (I later found out it was extreme anxiety, but at the time doctors thought it might be epilepsy, but that’s a different story). In November 2009, I made the difficult decision to leave BYU.

Within days of me making that decision, Brian was on a plane home from Oklahoma and go the distinct feeling that he shouldn’t go to BYU. Instead he stayed in Reno with his parents and attended a local junior college.

So I was in Lincoln, CA with my parents and Brian was in Reno with his. Brian had a cousin tell him about a job in Lincoln, he applied, but didn’t get it.

I was ready for something different, and my sister, who happened to live in Reno, offered to have me come live with her and work as nanny to her kids.

I accepted. And finally we were in the same place at the same time.

I first met Brian at church. He first met me at Buffalo Wild Wings.

My first week attending church in Reno happened to be a testimony meeting (once a month anyone in the congregation can get up and share their feelings). As terribly shy as I was, I had determined to take this opportunity as a fresh start and be more outgoing, so I got up to speak.

I had on a 50s style dress with a big lime green bow and my hair was short and red and spiky. Many people later recalled how much I stood out to them and how they immediately noticed my hair and distinctly remembered that as the first time they met me. But not Brian. He didn’t even notice.

But I noticed him. I knew the moment I saw him that I wanted to get to know him. I still wasn’t quite ready to be as forward as all that, so I decided on a subtler approach. Immediately after church there was a luncheon. I made sure to notice which girls seemed to be in his circle of friends, and I went up to them and introduced myself, thinking that with any luck he’d sit with them and I could meet him that way.

It worked, he sat right across from me, we exchanged a few words, and he apparently forgot all about it.

For weeks, we crossed paths constantly. We were in a university ward (a congregation made up entirely of college students and other young adults in the area), and everyone in the ward was in the same circles of friends, went to the same activities, and attended the same institute class (a religion class for college students).

I kept trying to be near him, he kept being oblivious.

Every week after institute a huge group would go to Buffalo Wild Wings. One week I made sure to sit right across from him. That day I had my hair in a fauxhawk and I had on a black and yellow dress. He commented that I matched the colors of the restaurant, and our first real conversation started. I ordered the hottest wings on the menu, ate the whole plate, and mentioned that they weren’t particularly hot, but weren’t very tasty either.

Finally, I caught his attention.

We became friends first, and soon we were inseparable.

After that night at Buffalo Wild Wings, at every group activity, we would talk and laugh together. Then we’d go home and chat some more.

One night we were messaging and he mentioned that he was at a place in his life when he really wasn’t looking for dating. I assured him that I felt the same. Then immediately afterwards he invited me to “hang out” and go to lunch.

We spent an afternoon walking around downtown Reno and talking and laughing together. We got closer and closer, but I still wanted more. I was NOT the type to be forward. I was completely inexperienced with the whole flirting and dating thing (I had never so much as held a boy’s hand or gone on a second date by this point in my life). But I just knew that Brian was something special, so I took an uncharacteristic leap.

A group of my friends from Lincoln was going to San Francisco for one friend’s birthday. I didn’t have a driver’s license or any way to get there, so I asked Brian to drive me, and he said YES. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive each way, so we had LOTS of time to talk about pretty much everything under the sun (plus a whole lot of singing and dancing in the car).

I think we fell in love during that car ride. But we were still “just friends.”

For a while anyway. We would spend pretty much every day together. But not actually going on dates. I think we probably only ever went on three real dates before we got engaged.

We just loved living life together.

We would go grocery shopping with his parents. We would babysit my niece and nephew. We just loved being together.

One night I hosted a dinner party and asked him to come early to help me make the food. Afterwards he offered to stay to help clean up (which isn’t the kind of thing he usually did) and I accepted (which isn’t the kind of thing I usually did). But it was my sister who was the real hero, because she asked if he wanted to stay afterwards to watch a movie.

That was the night he put his arm around me for the first time. That was the night I knew I was going to marry him.

Even if I wouldn’t admit it to myself for a while.

I could tell a hundred more stories. Like how I accidentally told everyone that he was my boyfriend before he actually thought he was just because of a confusing “jinx” “double jinx” moment. Or how his mom had me try on the ring he’d eventually propose to me with the very day that we became “official.”

She also told me he loved me even before he told me himself. And after he did tell me, it was a whole month before I told him back. But once I finally did tell him it must have just been bursting out of me because that very same day both his four-year-old niece and a homeless man randomly pointed it out to us.

Or the story of our first kiss that was kind of like a fairy tale—but maybe not in a good way, depending on how you look at it.

But I’ll skip ahead to the part where I REALLY knew I couldn’t live without him.

I was in Utah visiting my dad and he was in Utah visiting his aunt. They lived about 45 minutes away from each other, but of course we got together as often as we could. One night, he was driving me back to my dad’s house and there was a crazy storm. The visibility got so bad that we had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for it to clear up.

I remember thinking “What if that happened as he was driving back to his aunt’s house without me? What if he got in a car crash and died?” If my boyfriend died, I would be expected to move on, and eventually it would just be a sad story, but he wouldn’t be a permanent part of my life. I wanted him to be mine for all of eternity.

So our talks of marriage went from “what if?” to “when?” and then to “will you?”

He asked my mom and my dad for my hand, and he resized that ring I’d tried on when I first became his “girlfriend.”

I absolutely hate surprises, so I forbade him from catching me off guard, but I also wanted it to be just enough of a surprise to be special. So he told me he had the ring and would propose by the end of the week, but not which day.

One night he picked me up and we went to his house as usual. He told me he’d made a new YouTube video and I should watch it. He had made a video of every significant place around Reno and why it was special and how he’d fallen in love with me along the way. At the end of the video, he told me to turn around, and there was real-life Brian on one knee with the ring.

And then the good part really started. The happily ever after.