Memories Box

This was without a doubt the most fun part of collecting our evidence and by the time we’d got here, I’d got in to a rhythm.

The ‘memories’ box part of collecting our evidence was by far my favourite and by the time we’d got to this point, I felt like we’d got more of a handle on what we were doing.
We were in a rhythm almost and it wasn’t a chore, so much as a fond exercise in togetherness.

This section of the evidence is to prove the social aspect of your relationship, so we also threw in invitations we received, screenshots of messages to arrange meeting up with friends, FB check ins, Instagram posts.
All those things you do without thinking, they’re time and date stamped¬†and they’re great to include. Neither of us really use FB either, so when we did have a check in to include, it had been posted by our more social media savvy friends.

You’ll probably find you do more things as a couple than you realised. Not that I didn’t already know we are¬†basically inseparable, but invitations from friends always included Zac without prompting.

memories box.

I’d been collecting ticket stubs and paper momentos from our dates, days out, little things that would have a lot of meaning to us (like the instructions I left for him for cooking dinner the first night I was working and he was in charge of food).
I always keep things like tickets, but even after a few dates I wanted to get a shadow box frame to fill with these keepsakes as a present for Zac for our 1st Anniversary together.

My rare sentimental gesture meant we already had all of those ‘key’ pieces of evidence on hand.
Train tickets, cinema tickets, flight tickets, parking stubs and a beer voucher from London when we woke up at 3am to Hawthorn win a three-peat Grand Final.
We normally had photos from all these dates as well, so after prising open the frame again, it was just a matter of finding the photo to go with the ticket and getting a digital copy.

make friends with your PDF viewer.

I’m working on a Mac, so use preview, but whatever platform you’re on, get familiar with PDFs.
Remember back when you were gathering your financial evidence? I’d already turned the digital copies in to PDFs, so I just picked a month and then attached the relevant ‘fun’ evidence to that document.
I know there are limits on the number of pages/documents you can upload to a visa application, so I think this is possibly an excellent way of getting around that.
I also felt it gave a tangible context to the memories.

I hope you can see from those screen grabs.
Each file starts with the bank statement and then there’s ticket stubs, receipts (the receipts we actually used were for things like gym memberships, restaurants etc. but there aren’t any shown in those grabs) and some pictures to go with it.

Because we were making use of Dropbox, I’d create the PDF with the bare minimum I thought was needed for the month, but within the Dropbox file, add more photos, ticket stubs, receipts, screenshots, etc. and leave it down to Ana’s infinite wisdom to decide what she wanted and what she didn’t need.

make a night of it.

You’d be hard pushed not to enjoy looking back over photos and love notes, reliving the past few months, or years.
With most of the hard work done, we set aside a bit of time each night and tackled a couple of bank statements each. Zac picking his favourite memories for one month, me picking my favourite memories for mine.

It also made me realise just how much we’ve done together.
That’s one of the things I love about Zac – he’s as wide eyed about the world as I am and wants to try everything once. Some dates were a huge success (pizza and mini golf in Nottingham) and some were a huge disaster (Water Theatre Puppet Show in Ho Chi Minh City), but it was so much fun to look back on them and laugh about an evening well spent.

Our ‘Meet-Cute’

Every couple (not-so) secretly loves telling the world how they met. And like every great ‘how we met’ it started off really awkwardly.

It’s the moment we dream of.
Hollywood has spent decades perfecting the meet-cute and you assume you’ll get a monumental buzz when you meet ‘the one’.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen like that for some people, but I gave up on ‘love at first sight’ a long time ago.
Lucky for me, Zac hadn’t.

not your typical office romance.

I met Zac at work.
I had just started in sales, peddling memberships at South Pacific Health Clubs and he was one of the club personal trainers.
I’m incredibly awkward, and a complete nervous sweater and knowing I was supposed to be an adult and shaking hands with all these new people made my palms slick.
A few damp handshakes into my induction and I grimaced as I was introduced to this baby faced trainer the boss was hilariously referring to as ‘Tiny’.

I soon realised why he was grinning, as when ‘Tiny’ stood up, he towered over me.
“G’day, I’m Zac.”
He held out his hand and I panicked.
“Oh, I’m not really a handshake kind of girl, I much prefer to just go straight in for the hug, not professional at all, but I’m more of a tactile…”
“No problems there, I give great hugs, bring it in.”
To be fair, the hugs did get better from that first one.
His gangly limbs and bony hips gave him more of a ‘Groot‘ countenance and having never hugged someone so tall I had no idea where to put my head. He was desperately trying to avoid groin to groin contact and the entire office was watching.
It was awkward to say the least.

As I found out later that day, I’d seen him hobbling around the gym floor in a moon boot when I came for my interview, but having confused him for my only other sales competition, decided I’d take a healthy disliking to him.

Later on that day, while I was busy trying to muster up the courage to use the phone, he slid over to me and tried to casually ask how old I was.
By this point I already felt like I knew a hell of a lot about him and despite being generally terrible a bit rusty with the flirting game, I was pretty sure this line of interrogation was leaning romantically.

the weirdest personal training session of my life.

Like every couple, I love telling this part.
The next day he’d cleared his schedule in the afternoon so he could show me around the equipment and help me get used to the gym.
Clearly detecting a complete noob in me, I was glad to get all the help I could get, and while I was sure this was a ‘come on’, Zac was so sweet to everyone, it was hard to tell where it was going.

The thing I really liked about him then and completely adore about him now is how open he is.
You can’t help but feel at ease around Zac.
Warming up was laced with conversations about the size of my chest, if I had to wear extra sports bras, or got back ache a lot, but I wasn’t uncomfortable answering, it felt like I’d known him for years, not days.

He began putting me through my paces, finding out a world of information about me while doing so.
By the end of the session we’d shared a brief synopsis of our entire lives and there was so much more I wanted to know about him.
Sets were interrupted with compliments. In particular I remember him stopping me with 3 box jumps to go; thinking he was going to correct my technique, the excuses were already tumbling out of my mouth but he was more distracted with the koala socks on my feet.
He told me I had the prettiest eyes he’d ever seen and then without skipping a beat ordered me to drop and give him 10.

There was just something about him.

But I was hung up on his age.
At this point Zac was 20, so in boy years, 16.
But he wasn’t your typical 20 year old.
And there was something there.
Something beyond aesthetics (I’m a sucker for a tall boy), and beyond awkward flirtation (I’m a sucker for a funny boy), and beyond the fact he was ‘exotic’ (I’m a sucker for a South African accent…he didn’t quite get me there).

In the end, as he asked me out to watch a movie while I cooled down, I thought:
“F**k it, nothing to lose. Free movie if nothing else.”
Looking back on that moment now, two years later, with hindsight and a hell of a lot more self awareness, it feels like a much bigger decision than just the movies.