jill & ryne | peoria, il engagement.

Truth be told, there was a time when I thought I’d potentially live with Jill forever. We first became roommates in a house just off of Bradley’s campus with a few other friends – we were all pursuing different grad and undergrad programs and/or starting our first careers, and found ourselves mutually looking for a place to live in Peoria. I eventually finished grad school and our lease was soon ending, and Jill decided to buy a house of her own. When she asked if I was interested in moving into one of the spare bedrooms once she closed on it, I jumped at the opportunity – and that’s how one of my good friends became not only my landlord, but also one of the people in this world who knows me most of all.

As anyone who has had roommates knows, living with someone allows you a portal into each other’s lives that other, non-dwelling sharing people don’t experience. You see each other apply zit cream at night and start to have shows you watch together, and figure out who will do the dishes and take out the trash, and you know each other’s schedules and rehash dates and work drama and cook dinner together and see each other on both the bad days and the good. Because of this, I was there when she and Ryne first started seeing each other – posted up at my usual spot on the couch, laptop desk and computer in front of me as I edited photos when he walked in the front door to take her out on a date. And I was still there when he kept coming around – first to bring over IPAs and have a few beers with us, and then to join us in watching our shows, and after that to help us make dinner or grill out. I started to learn his schedule and interests and quirks, too, and there we were, Jill gaining a boyfriend and me gaining a new friend in general.

All this to say that when I eventually felt the pull to move to Chicago, one of the most difficult repercussions was the recognition that Jill and I would no longer share a home. After I had packed up all of my belongings and was left with an empty bedroom on my last night in the house, I laid out blankets and a pillow to sleep on the couch where I had spent countless hours editing, grading essays, watching shows and having late night chats with my roommates. Jill came out into the living room and we found ourselves crying together and talking about the surrealness of it all as we both avoided going to sleep on our last night as roommates, and this still is one of the most bittersweet goodbyes I’ve experienced. Since then, though, we’ve both grown in ways I can see now thanks to the gift of hindsight – I moved to a new area and grew my business and found another home to love, and Jill and Ryne eventually moved in together, and she sold her house like she had hoped to, and now the two of them just closed this week on a place of their very own. And as if all that weren’t enough, not only do I feel just as close to my friend as I did when we lived together, but she’s also the absolute happiest I’ve ever seen her. One of my favorite things about witnessing her and Ryne together is the way they make each other laugh – she’s beaming and giddy and cracking up at his jokes, and he’s grinning and laughing right back at her. They’ve been having so much dang fun together for the past few years, and there are few moments in my life when I’ve felt this confident that a friend of mine has found the absolute best person for her.

On the day of their engagement session, Ryne showed up again with a pack of beer, and the three of us again cheersed together. And we were out there amidst the trees and tall grasses, so sure, it was a slightly different setting than those couches – but as we all laughed and sipped out of our cans and talked about life and the wedding and the memories while I watched them look at each other in the same way I’d seen years ago back in our living room, I realized how fortunate I feel to have been, and continue to be, along for this ride with them.

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