FIVE YEARS + COURAGE

Friday, August 22, 2014




2008 senior prom • freshmen in college • mission trip to peru • 2009 the day we said 'i do'
2011 our first year in new mexico • balloon fiesta • 2012 bringing our Evangeline home
though we've known each other over a decade and have taken pictures together over that time,
film makes it hard to share pictures from all of those years (even our wedding pictures haven't made it to the computer),
but we have them packed away in shoe boxes, tucked into the back of closets and they are cherished

We're celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary (eleven years together) with a little spontaneous weekend trip. While we're away, I thought I'd leave our story here for you all to read. It's been told here before, I'm sure, but I can't pinpoint the time or the holiday and I guess it will continue being told because it's our story after all, and much like this blog, it's always evolving. So if you're new here and you've never heard it before, welcome - have a cup of coffee in my honor, pretend we're clunking our chunky mugs together for good cheer (don't you just love chunky coffee mugs?) and enjoy - you'll probably be here awhile.

The first time I met him, I was eleven years old. When you're eleven years old you're not thinking a lot about meeting your future husband, so I didn't notice him much, but he says he noticed me. No matter how long I stayed somewhere, I always carried around the 'new kid' stigma - painfully shy and self-conscious, quiet and reserved, always with a book in hand. I walked into my new sixth grade classroom wearing a bright yellow Adidas backpack, pony tail bouncing, and was persuaded to introduce myself. I shared my name and probably not much else in a barely audible tone and sat down in the front row, center aisle. We went to a tiny little school made of rock on a back road of a small Southern town, so it isn't surprising that we came to share the same friends. I 'dated' Alex's best friend and I use 'date' because we were twelve and I was terrified to even hold his hand or have a conversation with him, much less go on a date. Alex was different though - different from any other boy, but also different because we were just friends like kids should be, so talking with him came easier.

When we were thirteen, that little school let us out for Summer break and shut down for good shortly after. We went our separate ways, off to where we would both spend our high school years, but not before exchanging addresses and agreeing to write. So we wrote each other letters all Summer long, him from his treehouse he and his brother built themselves in the woods behind his house, me by  flashlight under a blanket on the top bunk while at camp in Arizona. I have no idea what thirteen year olds even write about that is so urgent you break the lights out rule to get it down on paper, but I still have the letters tucked away in a box somewhere, so I guess we'll always have the chance to be reminded. That was one of the ways I knew he was the one in college - so many notes and movie tickets and concert bracelets hadn't been kept, but those notes had made it. I had to have hung onto them for a good reason is the way I saw it and that good reason was that I was meant to marry him.

The way our relationship originated is a bit unconventional - I like to say our love grew gently. It wasn't 'love at first sight.' We didn't meet as adults and marry a few years later. Our love grew over many years and many letters. We spent most of our high school years together and some apart - we were best friends before we grew to love each other, but once we did we were inseparable. This sort of became the trend of our life together: doing things unconventionally. Because of that, we've dealt with a large share of criticism and commentary, but it only serves to make us more determined. We married at 19 (against many people's wishes), Alex joined the military at 20, we had a baby at 21, we bought a house at 22, sold that house and got rid of almost everything we owned at 23 to follow a crazy dream of moving to New York City, drove all the way across the country with a minuscule amount in savings, no promise of a job, and no home waiting for us, and here we are. We just sat on our mountain and watched New York City come up from the horizon and it's home for now, but we see the clouds of change coming again soon. Alex turned 24 on the 19th of February and I turned 24 on the 9th of March - considering what we've accomplished in the last four years, I'm a little apprehensive of what might happen this year. We're ready for a quiet year or five.

Sometime last year, we found ourselves at the kitchen table with the morning light streaming through the windows of our little adobe home and mugs of coffee in our hands, mulling over the possibilities. 'You know we're crazy, right?' Alex said. I smiled an infectious smile and he let out a chuckle and an exasperated sigh. We had just bought a house. Albuquerque was finally starting to feel like home. It wasn't just the two of us anymore - we had Ev to think about. Looking back, we were all comfortable and it was nice, but somewhere inside of us Alex and I both knew that something was out of sorts. We had tried the military life, the three bedroom home with a big backyard, the American dream, but when we let ourselves be totally honest, what we truly wanted wasn't this at all. We decided we weren't looking for easy, we didn't want to try to be normal, and we didn't want to work jobs we didn't love just to pay the bills. We wanted to consciously begin living an experience-based life. We want to thrive, we want to pursue our dreams, we want to live and love intentionally, we want to see the world, so that's what we're doing. It really hasn't been easy to turn around and head the opposite way you were headed in life in the span of three months. We didn't expect it to be, but we expected it to be worth it and so far, it has been.

Ev will be chaperoning us this weekend because well, we think of anniversaries as a celebration of our family, our entire family. When asked what the most important thing motherhood has given me, I will always respond without a hint of doubt, 'courage.' Where I once was timid and unsure of myself, I'm now passionate and confident. Where I once doubted my ability to accomplish my dreams, I'm now seeing one of my biggest dreams come true. Motherhood has brought out this courageous spirit in me that is a force to be reckoned with. I'm plowing down walls that have been in my way for years without thinking twice. I have strength that I've never known before, optimism in the most dire situations, and faith beyond what I thought possible. I once read a quote from Eric Roth that articulated what I hope to pour into my daughter over my lifetime in such a perfect way - 'For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.' . . . and we have. Courage has really come to be a theme for our entire family, not just my experience with motherhood.

I can't even count the times that an older person has said to me, 'You have your whole life ahead of you.' That statement is usually followed by something discouraging like, 'Why get married so soon?' or 'Why throw your whole life away raising a baby?' I've come to feel sympathy for these people because they don't realize that they too have their whole lives ahead of them too. Whether you're 24 or 54, from this moment, right now, you have just as much opportunity as anyone else to create the life you want. And me, I'm busy painting up a storm in the skies of my mind, dreaming and planning of the days to come.

But this was supposed to be a love story wasn't it? Well honestly, sometimes I forget she hasn't always been here. To write about our love seems trite because I know words can't do it all justice. To love and be loved by someone for over a decade is unbelievable. Plenty of people thought and probably still think we weren't ready to marry at 19, but who is ever really ready to get married? The hard thing about getting married young is that you're not only promising to love someone for the rest of your lives; you're promising to love the person they will become for the rest of your life no matter who you become - but it creates a beautiful story and teaches you hard, but gratifying lessons. We've done all of our life figuring out as a team and I love that. I love that we need each other - that he asks me to fold laundry and I ask him to clean the bathroom, that he goes to work every day and earns the money and I pay the bills and fill out his job applications for him, that he leaves the coffee on the pilot light on the stove to keep it warm for me each morning and packs his own lunches and I make the grocery lists, that he stands guard with the baby and the cart and I walk my way through the nightmare that is the Brooklyn Trader Joe's and bring all the food back to the cart. These are all meaningless to most people, but it's what our love is built on - gratefulness, team work, needing each other, and a whole lot of loving each other too.

Here's to another five years, love. Thank you for the million other tiny things you do for me and who you are. I've never met another man as good as you (and I'm kind of convinced you're the only one). I love you today, tomorrow, and forever. 


More anniversary posts here, here, and here.

1 comments:

  1. This is so beautiful. Happy 5 years of marriage. I had no idea you were younger than me, you seem so mature :)

    ReplyDelete

 

© The Long Way Home All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger