From Kellie:

Our story began when Gates and I met in Spanish class during our Sophomore year at Quincy Senior High School. Our first conversation was through the archaic way of passing handwritten notes back and forth during class. I was immediately intrigued by this shaggy-haired boy that wrote in cursive, had an interesting middle name, and had a birthday on Christmas. While there was certainly some romantic interest at first sight, it was not smooth sailing from the get-go. Shortly after our friendship took off, I found out my family was moving from Quincy to Milwaukee at the end of the school year.

As we weren’t willing to commit to anything serious and I was moving away, we resolved to forgo any romantic intentions and just be friends. And we became quite good friends! Living miles away and figuring I’d never see him again made it easier for me to open up to him. Gates was like a secret friend I had in my back pocket, someone entirely separate from the current high school drama and who I could talk with about anything and everything.

And so our friendship grew over the next few years, texting and Snapchatting like teenagers in the early 2010s did. Soon enough, we were off to college, simultaneously learning how to live on our own and commiserating over classes and papers while still living many miles apart and never seeing each other.

That was until I had a weekend trip back to Quincy, and we coordinated to meet up during the visit. It was the first time we were going to see each other since I had moved away. It felt like a big deal; I was both nervous it was going to be weird in person and also excited to see my friend I hadn’t seen in nearly three years. We finally met up for smoothies and… it was awful. Without digging into the messy details, we departed that weekend with our friendship in shambles. We had a falling out and stopped speaking to each other.

Obviously, the story doesn’t end there (thank God!). For over a year, Gates and I didn’t speak at all, which was a stark contrast to speaking nearly daily when we were friends. Until one day, I was in my weekly bible study, and my bible study leader challenged me to take a “leap of faith” somehow over the next week. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what a

“leap of faith” should look like, but I wanted to try to meet the challenge and thus decided on reconciling old relationships that had been broken. There were four relationships I had in mind: one of which was my broken relationship with Gates.

I reached out to Gates, apologizing for my side of the fallout between us and hoping we could find closure.

I didn’t expect our friendship to rebloom, but Gates surprised me by being very appreciative of the gesture and wanting to pick up our friendship back up. Our friendship did more than just rebloom; it reached new depths with the newfound gratitude we had to have each other in our lives again.

Not too long after we reconnected, we finally explored the romantic interests we had buried so long ago, only to find our feelings were mutual. We experienced growth with each other and in our faith over the next few years, and by graduation, we had committed seriously to each other. We moved to Colorado to start our careers (and finally not be long-distance!). After a few more cars, Gates popped the question one warm evening under the twinkling lights of a gazebo in the park, and of course, I said yes! We’ve since moved back to Quincy and got married in town, and are enjoying the happily ever after!

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