You know that famous saying, “the love of your life will come when you least expect it”? Sometimes I feel like my life could so easily be a movie, because that’s exactly how I felt when I met my neighbor.
It was 2011, and I’d just gotten out of an almost 6-year stunted relationship that had been failing halfway in. That relationship first started when I was 15 and ended shortly after I turned 21 – it’d been nearly 7 years since I was last single, and I was still a really young teenager back then. I wanted to begin my adult life by finding myself and embracing the person that I grew to be.
After that relationship I spent some time dating around, chasing boys, getting dumped, and dumping them too. I’d chosen to affiliate myself with an interesting variety of guys – a felon, a close friend, plenty of assholes, someone who always managed to get me into harm’s way, oh, and someone who still owes me over $3,000 to this day (it’s an ongoing legal battle).
With some more dating experience under my belt, I learned what I wanted and didn’t want in a relationship, and decided to allow that right person to present themselves when the time was finally right.
Amidst many huge life changes in the following year – getting out of 2 dangerous relationships, quitting my toxic job, going back into the failing 6-year relationship and moving over 3 times in a single year, I decided it was best for me to move back in with my parents. They just moved to a nice gated community, and the home was a huge step above what my parents used to have.
I remember the day I moved in, I had trouble getting past the security gate because we weren’t given an access code. A good samaritan let me go in before him, and I was admitted into the neighborhood. I’d never seen my parents’ new home before nor had I ever explored the little community, so I slowly drove in, admiring all the sights. All the sights.
So it was no surprise that when I pulled up to my parent’s house and saw a sexy shirtless man working on his car out in his driveway, I admired that sight too.
Of course, it was my new next-door neighbor. I decided it was a brilliant idea to roll my window down and wave him over to ask about entrance through the front gate, and he helped me out with the access code. We introduced ourselves to each other, and that was that. That was the day I met Jun, my next door neighbor.
After settling into my parents’ home, I started noticing that this guy was always out in his garage working on his cars. It wasn’t hard to find an opportunity to talk to him since he was always outside, but I was just way too shy to randomly approach him and start talking about something as mundane as the weather.
A bit stalkerish, I started to recognize his arrival from work every day around late afternoon. He drove a work truck that I could hear down the street from inside my room, so it wasn’t hard to know when he got home.
I started to pattern my schedule around his, and every Wednesday late afternoon I decided to bring out the trash bins to the street for morning pick-up when he’d come home. We’d say hi to each other just briefly, and that was all the conversation we really had. It was like this for the longest time.
One day we started talking and got to know each other a little more, and I had to break it to him that I had a boyfriend. I wanted to be honest – especially since I was really attracted to him and that he lived next door it could have wound up escalating – so I casually inserted having a boyfriend in a conversation. It went something like this:
“That’s really dope that you like hip-hop. My boyfriend actually shows me a lot of underground hip-hop too.”
“Oh, you have a boyfriend?”
“So how long have you guys been dating?”
“For like… 6, almost 7 years.”
“Oh.” *awkward silence* “Yeah, I have a girlfriend too.”
“How long have you guys been together?”
“6-7 years too.”
“Ah.” *extended awkward silence*
“Yeah, I love him.”
“Yeah, I love my girlfriend too.”
We both got the message, and after that we stopped trying to get to know each other. An invisible line was drawn, and it reduced our friendship to nothing further than polite greetings in the early evenings.
After some time, my boyfriend and I finally broke up for good. I started seeing other people, and Jun witnessed me dating around. I think we both knew we had an attraction towards each other, but never acted upon it because it was always bad timing.
Despite the fact that I was seeing other people, I still kinda liked Jun, but there was nothing I could do but really admire him from afar since he was already taken. But not long afterward, he and his girlfriend broke up.
We still weren’t very close, so by the time he’d told me much time had already passed after his breakup. Over time we became closer friends, and Jun started coming around more to assist my helpless parents out with a lot of stuff like fixing the sprinklers or their car. He was extremely reliable when it came to emergencies, so I grew very fond of him. His family was also very sweet and thoughtful – his mom always gave us food, his brother helped me find my dog when he got loose, and his dad let me borrow a power drill when I needed to mount my TV on the wall.
One of my favorite awkward moments between us was during the first Christmas my family and I had at our new home. We invited all of our family and friends over for dinner, and well into the evening when everyone was already present, the doorbell rang and we were all confused as to who it could be. With my family’s curious eyes on the door, I opened it, and there was my neighbor Jun, with a big bowl in his hands.
“Hey, uh, Merry Christmas… my mom made a lot of eggnog for us and we had a lot more than we needed, so she wanted me to give some to you guys. I don’t know if your family even drinks, though…”
*feeling my family’s eyes burning through my back*
“Oh, hey, thank you! Uhh, I think I have something for your family too. Wait here…”
I scrambled off into the kitchen with my face bright red, not thinking straight and forgetting to invite him in. My family all stared at Jun standing at the door while I fumbled around the kitchen and found a gift box of terrible homemade cookies and other baked desserts I made. I gave him the baked abominations and thanked him for the eggnog. When I shut the door behind me, my brother-in-law chimed in at how obvious the awkward attraction was.
Then one evening, upset from a heated argument with my parents about my future and lack of career path, I went next door and of course, Jun was working on his car. I brought a bottle of vodka and immediately demanded that we take a shot together.
It only took me a single shot for me to unravel everything about myself – my eating disorder, my constant struggle with depression, and my ever-constant battle with my parents and my lack of a foreseeable future career. I started to cry. I broke down.
I remember being so caught up in my tears that I didn’t realize that someone had scooped me up and suddenly I felt lips against mine. There were affirmations about my personality and future success and I realized it was Jun. After 3 years of this on-and-off attraction, I finally got that kiss.
Despite the emotional ice-breaker, Jun and I kept an agreement that since we were both recovering from a few bad breakups, we should stay single for a while before entrapping ourselves with another relationship. Now that I think of it, it was kind of silly that we kept reassuring that we weren’t going to be in a relationship with each other and were just trying to be friends, because the attraction was definitely there. In fact, one of the biggest cases of denial we had was when we both had no Valentine’s Day plans and agreed to go out and grab dinner. For us, it was “just dinner.” It wasn’t a date, and it had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. But… we were both dressed up and went to the most romantic local restaurant and indulged in the most expensive dinner I’d ever had. In an attempt to say it wasn’t a Valentine’s Day date, we split the check in half.
Oh, how silly that memory was.
My feelings for Jun grew stronger, but I wanted to be respectful of both our newfound single statuses and just enjoy his company, so I denied my fondness for him in efforts to take things slow. He, on the other hand, did not deny anything whatsoever.
He did some of the cheesiest things: once, I was in my room working on my computer and a loud thud hit my window, and then again, and again. I got upset because I realized someone was throwing rocks at my window, and my first thought was: we are renting this house, who’s trying to scratch up my damn window!? Of course, it was him trying to say hi. You know, there are these things called cell phones…
Another time, I asked him to go watch a movie with me as friends but I remember the entire time he was staring at me in the dark for the entire duration of the movie with a huge grin on his face. When we drove home I sensed him trying to get his flirt on, so I put my walls up and didn’t feed into it.
The best part: As soon as we got home and I pulled into my driveway, he insisted that I needed to be “walked home” for my safety (remember now, we’re next-door neighbors). I got nervous and scrambled to my front door but he came chasing after me, then as I stuck my key into the door I felt hands on my hips from behind me. I spun around and saw him coming at my face with his own, so I panicked and smushed his face with my hand. Then I pushed his face away.
He laughed and rolled with it gracefully, said goodbye and walked to his house, but I was frazzled, happy, pissed, and annoyed at the same time. I just liked him, and I wasn’t sure if I was annoyed by his numerous passes at me, or annoyed with myself that I refused to let it happen.
At the same time, I wanted to tell him my stifled feelings. Of course I couldn’t, so I did something else: I wrote a song.
I wrote a damn song for this guy. Who did I become?! I’d never done anything like this before.
The next day I invited him to a coffee shop since I was playing for Open Mic night and just so happened to have this brand new song to play for everyone. I’m so not slick.
Of course, I messed up a thousand times because I’d just finished writing that song that very afternoon and could barely remember it. But apparently, he got the message because not long afterward we decided to give this dating thing a try. The rest is history.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt that you’d eventually fall in love with them? Ever since we said hello, that’s what it felt like to me. There were so many obstacles we dealt with, but we always felt a magnetic attraction towards each other and every time I thought that my feelings for him had subsided, they’d always come back. It almost felt inevitable.
It’s been almost two years since then, but I always smile when I think about our story. I always knew I was going to love this man, but it was just a matter of when our circumstances would allow for it.
Just a quick video of the final version – I definitely need to videotape this song in better audio/video quality. Hope this works for now!
Do you have a love story that could be turned into a romance novel or movie? Chat with me in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter below.