Exactly one month ago we celebrated our one year marriage anniversary. Most would correctly note that this is just the beginning of our lives together, and while one year of marriage isn’t considered the biggest of feats, it’s so much more to us considering our decades long history of countless moments that got us to this point so far.
I’ve shared pieces of our story here and there, but I’ve never told it from start to finish, so in celebration of our first anniversary I thought I’d finally share the story of how we met and everything since that lead us to our marriage. A big thanks to Helzberg Diamonds for partnering with me on this post, inspiring me with the story of their “I Am Loved” button to reflect on what it means to be loved, and for putting me in tears as I share about the person most important to me.
We met when we were 9 years old. Oleg was the new kid at school, nervous and hyper aware of everything about his first day of school, which is why he remembers our meeting clearly- I have no recollection of this day and am retelling this the way he has told me this story before. He walked into class and looked around for where to sit. Seeing that he was new, I pointed to the desk where his unfamiliar name tag was and said, “I think you’re sitting there.” I laugh about this memory of his because it’s so me. I was a loud and forward kid that liked to tell other kids what to do and it makes sense that I did this, though I’d like to think I was also just being nice to the new kid. I was the first person to talk to him at his new school and he said he always remembered that, but it certainly was not at all a love at first sight type of thing.
We remained in the same school district together, sharing classes and homerooms throughout the years, and there was a good amount of time during junior high school that we’d chat a lot on AOL Instant Messenger about music and TRL on MTV (I’d love to know if you remember these good ol’ days too). It wasn’t until senior year of high school that we became really good friends when we were in AP Bio together. That class is the reason I truly believe we are married today.
At first I was annoyed that he would ask to copy my homework, but that turned into studying together outside of class. Our study sessions at the Borders Book Store in Eden’s Plaza would turn into fits of laughter, long talks about I don’t remember what, phone calls he’d disguise as homework questions that would turn into hours long conversations. In class we’d pass notes to each other and were constant disruptions because of how much we’d laugh (so rude, I’m so sorry Mr. Harper). One time the note was so funny that I burst out laughing while there was water in my mouth and I projectile spit it out everywhere. Our teacher turned around with a face of disbelief, looked at us, and then turned back around and continued on with class. I think he knew we’d end up together one day.
Our friendship naturally turned into more. We went to prom together, had the best summer before I left Chicago to go to LA for college, and we gave it our best for a 1.5 year long distance relationship before we ended it. Though it was one of the worst things I’ve gone through, we agreed it was best to put our grown-up pants on and give each other the space to grow, separately.
A couple years later our high school friends planned a reunion trip in Boston. Knowing we’d both be there, Oleg called me to catch up for the first time since our breakup. That call was a pivotal moment because it was so clear that nothing had changed between us. We talked for an hour and those stupid butterflies were back in my stomach. When we saw each other in Boston, it confirmed that we were still in love, and that same year he moved to LA so we could give this another try.
After years of him finding his footing in LA, then sharing our first home together for 5 years before getting engaged, then getting married, and now we’re one year in on this new adventure, I’ve been thinking about what it is that continues to keep us together. A lot of it can’t be explained, that conviction that I know he’s my person because I just know, but a lot of it can be explained by all those cliche pillars used to describe successful relationships— they really are true.
On our anniversary we talked about those things, what it is we love and appreciate about each other, and the things we do to keep those butterflies around. We easily agreed that most of all, it’s the little things. The little things are huge. Daily acts of kindness, expressions of love, and our ability to laugh about anything and everything to the point of tears make us confident and excited about the rest of our lives together.
We made a pact to do everything we can to maintain the small traditions we’ve created over the years that let each other know we’re loved. Things like hiding notes in his suitcase when he goes on work trips, kissing me before he leaves in the morning even if I’m still sleeping and may never know whether or not he did, having dinner made when the other gets home late, massaging each other while watching TV, getting each other the perfect card on our birthdays (max points if the card incorporates an inside joke), and our favorite: giving each other a big long hug when the other gets home from work and debriefing about our days.
It’s why I love so much the sentiment behind the “I Am Loved” button from Helzberg Diamonds and the story behind its creation. I learned that it was created by Barnett Helzberg when he proposed to his wife Shirley in 1967 and famously stated “Give her a ring or give her a button. Just let her know that she’s loved.” The popularity of the button spread across the world, getting translated into 11 different languages and clearly resonating with many the same way it does with me. The way I see it is that Mr. Helzberg was advocating for the little things, and that spreading and sharing the love only takes the smallest act, which can be so cherished and appreciated. Like those little things, this little button is a reminder that I am loved, and to notice the signs of it in everyday moments.
In the same way Barnett wanted to spread the love, I’m inspired to do the same with everyone in my life that is important to me. It isn’t just in marriage but in all of our relationships with friends and family where it is so important to let them know they are loved, over and over. The enormity of small acts of love is something I especially learned from my husband, and that should be something we all feel with anyone we love.
You can pick up an “I Am Loved” button for free anytime at any Helzberg Diamonds store to wear on your heart, or your sleeve, or even your market tote bag. I’ll also be giving some buttons away tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 2, via Instagram stories so I hope to see you there and learn more about who you love!
Thank you for reading our story <3.
This post is sponsored by Helzberg Diamonds. Thank you for supporting partners that help HOM create and share original content.