The first time she spots Brendan is on the second day of their freshman year of college when she's trying unsuccessfully to move a television into the dorm. Like a knight in torn jeans and floppy hair, he swooped in to carry the other end and struck up a conversation with her about the backwards Cubs hat currently keeping her straw blonde hair out of her face. They end up crashing some party on fraternity row, where Brendan went home with a cute redheaded biology major and PJ got to hear all the details the next morning over coffee in the cafeteria. It's an instant connection and one of the most real things she found in college.
The second time she fights, really fights, with Brendan is the second time they live together. It's a year after college, and his latest flavor of the week has kicked him out on his unemployed butt. PJ doesn't mind when he takes up residence on her sofa. They're both struggling then, him working overnight shifts on some crappy mainstream rock station with some of the lowest ratings in the city and her editing box scores for a neighborhood weekly paper. When he brings home some random chick from a bar and she throws up all over PJ's favorite stadium blanket, they end up yelling at each other in the hallway while the poor nameless girl withers in pain on the bathroom floor. They don't talk for three days after that until Brendan shows up with a six pack and Oreos as an apology gift.
The third time she kisses Brendan is the one that she still likes to think of as the first. It's not a mistake like the time in college when it got all awkward or unacknowledged like the time in her kitchen when it nearly ruined what they were. Instead, it's sweet and intentional, standing on a street corner as they wait for a cab a few months after she broke up with Bobby for good. He was just reaching back for her hand to help her into a car, but it shook something in both of them. There's this light in her eyes that he's never seen before and this intent in his touch that she's never felt before and it's just perfect. Later, when she is recounting all the details to Stephanie over a glass of wine, she knows that she is literally glowing.
At some point, after a year of dating, PJ's apartment quit being her apartment and became their apartment. The guys start referring to it as such during their weekly poker games, and they start getting mail made out in both of their names. He's had a key for years, but when it comes time to resign the lease, they make it official. Now, there is this piece of paper, a legally binding document, that ties them together in a way that they never were. It's when her apartment quit being just this place to live. It's when the series of rooms, the holder of her secrets and her memories, became a home. It's when it became their home.
Brendan asks PJ to go with him to their alma mater under the guise of speaking at some career day in her old journalism school. Instead, he ends up taking her to the lawn in front of the old dorm where they met and kneeling to ask for her hand in marriage. She laughs and agrees, and they get married two months later, just before Opening Day, on the pitcher's mound at Wrigley. It's a small and intimate ceremony, a far cry from what most girls would want but the day of PJ's dreams. Their daughter is born almost exactly one year to the day, and she is named Maddux Grace after her two favorite Cubs of all time, Greg Maddux and Mark Grace. Twin sons come two years later, named aptly after the most popular musicians in Brendan's music collection. The day the boys come home and Maddux peaks over the edge of the crib at her tiny little brothers, PJ smiles at her husband and knows that they have gone the distance. She has managed to hit the elusive Cycle.