Our Love Story:  A Valentine Challenge

Our Love Story: A Valentine Challenge

With today being the sappy day of love and everywhere I turn couples are telling their love stories, I thought it would be appropriate to share Gary and my story. This is by far a romantic, love at first sight, happily ever after story. It was a hard beginning, a rough middle, and still a struggle, but we do it together and it brings many cherished moments.

Our stories came together in Mandeville, LA in the fall of 2006. I had moved to LA due to a bad divorce and situations that I needed to get away from. Gary was going through a nasty divorce and was looking for somewhere to escape. That is where Lucy’s came into play. I had recently quit my professional 9-5 job with average pay and good benefits to become a bartender. Some say I was crazy, but the money was phenomenal and I only had to work a couple days of week to exceed what I was making in the “real” world. I was alone with two kids in a state that was 10 hours from friends and family. This made sense in so many ways for me at the time. Gary was looking for a place to remove himself from the stress of his high pressures job and revelations of what had really been happening in his marriage and what it was going to cost him to get out.

Our story is not that of love at first sight, in fact, it was quite the opposite. As I tell people, I was the bartender and he was a regular at the bar. I served him, but that was all. I found him to be annoying (still do) when he started drinking. I think he thought I was a B****. However, we had friends that thought we should give each other a chance. We started hanging around outside Lucy’s and discovered that even though our backgrounds and current situations were nothing alike, we had fun together. In January of 2007, we officially became a couple.

The challenges of dating a man going through a divorce and adjusting to life after several years of marriage had more than it’s share of challenges. Being a bartender, well, that has its own unique challenges. However, we leaned on each other and encouraged each other. We grew to love each other very much. After about a year of dating, things fell apart. I look back now and realize that outside factors influenced decisions that would not have been made otherwise. For once, these bad decisions were not my own or at least, not totally my own. In the mix of all of this, the company Gary worked for downsized and due to Katrina the year before, his territory was wiped out so he was given a severance package and sent on his way. He could not find work in the New Orleans area and ended up moving to Shreveport.

Awwww Shreveport! Sometimes I feel I should have let him move here alone and I kept my life in Mandeville. I say that only because I truly love the New Orleans area. Actually, we both love that area and that made living here that much more difficult. We were used to always having things to do, festivals to attend, outdoor adventures to go on, fabulous food, quaint boutique stores to shop, lakes and rivers to spend days on, and so many other potential activities each and every day. Shreveport does not offer that. What happened when we arrived here was we were together all the time. We went to work and we came home. For this being LA, it was nothing like the Southern part of the state. There was nothing to do, no Mom & Pop places to visit, and no daily/weekly events to entertain us. However, we fought through it, quite literally, and ended up getting married November 2008.

The first years of marriage sucked. I think I can say this for both of us. We were miserable! Not with each other, but with the life we were living. We didn’t like our jobs. We didn’t like where we lived. We didn’t like the majority of the people we were surrounded by. We didn’t like our lives. And we were beginning to not like each other. Then one day things changed. Gary decided to become a teacher. Strange career choice for a man who went to The Citadel, joined the Navy, and was a top performer at a major pharmaceutical company. But he was passionate and excited so I became supportive and encouraging. The first year of teaching had its ups and downs, but a resemblance of the person I once knew was returning. He liked going to school and he loved being enrolled in college again. His passion for teaching motivated me to seek my teaching certification. During this time, we moved into a beautiful house in a historical area of Shreveport that we loved. At this point, we were happy professionally and personally. We had overcome a huge obstacle and were moving in the right direction.

Gary has always wanted to have his own business, but not just a business, an extremely successful business. His passion has always been candles. He grew up near Yankee Candle and their philosophy (before being sold) was what has kept him going during some of the darker times of our life together. I should say Yankee Candle and Disney (we both love Disney). He spent years researching starting a candle company and I spent years rolling my eyes. Like he always does, he kept on until I gave in and said just do it! So he did!! It all happened so fast. In fact, my head is still spinning. This last year has added new pressures to our relationship. We don’t always see eye to eye on business practices, fragrances, or people we encounter. However, we allow each other to make mistakes (only small ones with no financial impact) and celebrate successes. We don’t hesitate to say what we think, but also admit when we are wrong. These are things that at one point would not have happened. Gary still teaches. He loves his job, his responsibilities, his students, the parents of his students, and all the other craziness that goes with being part of his school. He is in his element when he is there. I no longer teach and am devoted to Gnome Hollow. This is my element. I love working at home alone with my animals and Alexa keeping me entertained with my favorite tunes. I enjoy days of deliveries and appointments. I was worried that Gary would be angry that I was home while he worked, but he has supported me more in the last two months than in our 12 years of marriage (might be a little exaggerated). He is relaxed and enjoying his life more than he has in years which means that I am relaxed and enjoying my life more than I have in years. On this Valentine’s Day in 2021, I wish for only the continued love and support of not only my wonderful husband, but from those around me and those that will one day become a part of my life. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!

Valentine’s Challenge:

You know how we met

First official date was an amazing steak place in Madisonville

Married for 12 years

Gary is 3 years older than me

Gary said he loved me first

I am the most impatient

I am definitely the loudest

I am the most stubborn

I go to bed at least 3-4 hours before him

I am the morning person

His driving sucks!!

Gary thinks he’s the funniest, but I know I am

As a couple, we eat pizza the most

Gary is the social bunny

Gary is definitely neater than me

The first kiss was mutual

I wear the pants, but sometimes let him think he does

I have the remote because he claims not to know how to use it

Gary is the shopper!!

I’m from KY and he is from MA. We both went to LSUS.

We drove from LA to CA and took Route 69 back is the longest trip we’ve taken together

I always drive because he can’t stay awake.

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