Brandi and I met in 2006, when she was 19 and I was 21. At the time, she worked the customer service counter at the same grocery store as my roommate, who I frequently drove to work. I would drop my roommate off and go inside under the pretense that I was buying a drink or a pack of gum, but in reality, I was there just to get a glimpse of the “front-end girl” as I called her back then, still too nervous to ask her name. In those days, my roommates and I would have regular weekend get-togethers with our friends at our apartment to play poker or just hang out and watch movies. During one such get-together, my roommate brought Brandi home from work with her. We hit it off over a mutual love of The Beatles, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, we have discovered that we share an awful lot more than just a love of The Beatles. Brandi and I love to spend time outdoors, particularly in the National Parks, but a local hike or a trail run will do in a pinch. We spend our summers wearing ourselves out on road trips and outdoor concerts, and we hunker down for the winter with hot coffee, soup, and books. We share an active lifestyle and a love of running and cycling, having run roughly thirty half marathons and a few full marathons together. Sadly, my running habit hit a bit of a snag a few years back, after having knee surgery to repair some torn cartilage, but I still do short runs from time to time, and I spend as much time on my road bike as I can afford.
Brandi and I also have a serious soft spot for dogs. We have two of our own, Naya and River. Naya is an eleven-year-old Cairn Terrier, but don’t let the age fool you—she is as spry and spunky as the day we brought her home from the shelter ten years ago. She’s incredibly sweet, always up for an adventure, and mortal enemies with the squirrels in our backyard. Naya has an uncanny internal clock. At 7:30 every morning, she starts slapping the hell out of us and nudging us out of bed to get her breakfast ready, and at 4:30 each night, she will stomp around and stare into our souls until there’s food in her bowl.
River is a six-year-old Norfolk Terrier Mix (read: Mutt). He is a sweet, lurpy, deeply misunderstood dog. We adopted River from a local rescue shortly after losing our Yorkie, Manny, to heart failure. Riv had been bounced from home to home, living with three or four different families over the course of a few months before we brought him into ours. As a result, River was insecure and territorial. He barked at EVERYONE we passed on our walks for the first few weeks. He peed on our clothes, he peed in his kennel, he peed on our bed, and he peed on me. We felt like we were at our wits’ end with him—like we had made a huge mistake. But in the moments between the barking and the peeing, River was this incredibly sweet, affectionate dog who just wanted to be safe and loved. We just kept thinking, if not us, then who? So, we kept at it. And River has made some incredible strides. He’s still a little skittish with other dogs on our walks, but he has warmed up to people tremendously. He’ll let us know when we he’s feeling insecure about company, but he’s quick to calm down and snuggle with our friends and family when they’re over.
Brandi and I married in October of 2013, after seven years together. We had our wedding on Antelope Island at the finish line of the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon. We were sweaty and gross, but it just made Brandi glow all the more radiantly, and I got to wear a tuxedo t-shirt to my wedding, so, bonus. We honeymooned in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, and we spent the next year planning our future.
We bought our home in October of 2014. We had one condition: it had to have a big kitchen. Brandi loves to bake, I love to cook, and I firmly believe that cooking should be a social activity. Well… we learned pretty quickly that compromises are a necessary part of buying your first home. We landed on a beautiful five-bedroom, two-bathroom, one-quarter-kitchen post-war home in South Ogden. The kitchen honestly looked like it had been an afterthought, as though the builders realized that they had forgotten to include a kitchen after the home was already built. It was cramped and enclosed, barely capable of containing two people awkwardly. But we loved the house, and we loved the neighborhood, so we made the compromise.
Our home was built in 1964, but we have put a lot of work into it to make it ours over the years that we have lived there. We have installed a six-foot privacy fence all around the backyard, which is very green, lush, and shaded. We replaced our roof two years ago and added solar panels and a battery bank this year to keep our lights on during power outages. This past summer, we finally completely remodeled our kitchen, removing the walls and extending it into the old dining area to create the large, communal, conversational space that we had originally insisted upon.
In 2014, we also decided that it was time to start our family. We thought we would give it the old college try for a few months and have our first child sometime around the end of 2015. But month after month, year after year, we were met with disappointment. We started talking about our options in late 2017 or early 2018—fertility testing, IUI, IVF, and adoption were all on the table. But in July of 2018 we suffered a pretty significant family tragedy that slowed everything down for us. My father had taken his own life. Getting well after that trauma became the greater focus for us for the foreseeable future.
We took some time to heal and to learn about ourselves and how we handle difficult circumstances. We escaped to the desert, the mountains, the rain forest, or the ocean whenever we could, just the two of us, learning to cope, survive, and thrive in hard times, and we grew closer than ever. So, in mid-2019, we began, again, to pursue our dream of having a family.
We both had fertility tests, and we were both told that we were perfectly capable of conceiving a child, but it just wasn’t happening. After another year and half, we decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI), and to explore adoption in earnest. We started our IUI cycles in April of 2021, and we signed up for a two-day adoption seminar in August, which coincided with our third and final unsuccessful IUI cycle.
The seminar was incredibly enlightening. It made adoption feel accessible and real to me—as though it was always the right course of action for us. Don’t get me wrong, it also highlighted some serious challenges we might and most certainly will face, but starting a family, no matter what the makeup, will always come with complications and challenges. And we have fought our share of battles together over the years, so we are ready and able to take on whatever challenges adoption might bring. The seminar made up our minds—adoption was for us. I don’t know if we’ll stop trying to have biological children, but I do know that we are going to adopt regardless.
That pretty much brings us up to the present. Brandi & I have turned a page and started a new journey. One for which we are terribly excited and incredibly optimistic.