Kelsey Breseman
3 min read4 days ago

I had failed to posit the existence of a partner whose life plans so matched mine. But there he stood, last summer, in my rare moment of availability: loading my family's bags onto the ferry, splicing the outhaul line, asking my advice on where to hang his calisthenics rings in the trees.

He loves backpacking in the mountains, eating healthy homemade food, and has long imagined disappearing somewhere remote (usually Tasmania, as he's Australian). And for years, he's wanted to find someone and center his life around a family.

I didn't know all that when I kissed him; I only knew I was intrigued. But he knew; he'd heard me chatting blithely about my family plans, watched me chopping logs and working through data science papers. So within a couple of days, he let me know.

"Come to London," he said first.

"Let's give it six months," the next day, "to date, and then we can try for a baby."

It doesn't, evidently, have to be complicated. A couple of days later, as we pulled the boat in together, I accepted, with brief provisions: that we work through some form of light couples counseling, that he learn to dance.

"For a baby together, I want to be married," I said.

He nodded. "We can do that."

I didn't assume all would go according to plan. The whole scenario felt wild, absurd: I'd been self inseminating for two years. I barely knew Robert yet; he was the guy who had done his PhD with my brother in law and visited us in Alaska five years ago. I was already in a place of big transition with relationship and career. How could we take a week together in Alaska and build a life from it, when I lived in Snohomish and he in London?

But when I asked for space to think, he gave it, and when I sought connection, we started to talk over video call for hours every day. A month after our first kiss, I sent roses to his doorstep. Six weeks in, he flew all the way back to the West Coast again to see me. Two months in, I came to London.

Robert took me out to dinner every Wednesday. He works long hours, but it suited my overfull grad school schedule. He set up a desk for me in front of the big window so I could look out at the courtyard's changing leaves. I watched recorded lectures from afar, dragged my highlighter across academic articles, wrote neural networks for class. By evening, I'd cook our dinner to regain my sanity. We picked out groceries together from the farm direct delivery service once a week. We went bouldering often at the local climbing gym.

I had been dated before, but never courted. The difference is intent: a clear bid for the long term. Robert spent November, as he had the rest of fall, showing me not just who he already was, but how he would grow for and with me. I don't know what I did to earn this kind of devotion, but I can recognize my husband when he's showing me our future. By the end of November, we were sure.

In a burger shop near St. Paul's cathedral, we sketched out plans for living situation, financial future, the adventures we wanted to take together and what age the kids should be for each. In December, we road tripped in Australia, where I met his brother, cousin, and school friends. While I traveled with my family in South Africa, he shopped for apartments and rings. When I came back to London in February, we moved in together and decided to start trying for a family.

To be continued...