Self-indulgent post alert! There will be a lot of pictures of two very sweet, but clueless people.
When Alan and I met, over ten years ago, we were both giving up. We had both returned from a vacation in which we seriously considered packing up and getting a fresh start elsewhere. God bless our mothers, who both advised us to go back and try for a few months more. We met two weeks after that wise advice.
I was singing in a band that needed a last minute percussionist. A very grinny Alan filled in and spent the whole weekend of rehearsal and performance sitting behind me, staring at my butt. And it was apparently love at first sight. We were officially a couple eleven days later.
The weekend we met, he showed me his project for his first photography class and I critiqued. Little did we know that we would spend a lifetime, and owning multiple businesses, doing that exact thing. Our relationship, on the whole, was calm, contented, and so natural. This was lesson #1: Real love does not revolve around roller coaster emotions. When it’s right, it’s right. There will be some butterflies, but more than that, there should be a sense of center and balance to it.
We were married a little more than two years later. It was not a perfect day, but it was beautiful. Family, friends, music and laughter. After photographing so many weddings, I learned lesson #2: Don’t be so obsessed about perfection, on the day of the wedding and every day after. It won’t happen. As any writer will tell you, it’s the imperfections that are interesting. THEY make the story. Focus on what makes your day and your relationship unique and quirky and hold onto it. I don’t remember much about the day except the funny things like my bridesmaids being sewn into their dresses and orchestrating the bridal march too well so that no one stopped crying until halfway through the ceremony. Same with marriage. Perfection glosses over in memory. Be ok with that. Early marriage, our first home, vacations. Ah, so very young and free…Lesson #3: Cherish the now. It won’t last. It is so tempting to be longing for the next chapter. But every chapter has its high points. This part was about just learning to be us and doing as we wished when we wished it. We had no idea what a blessing that was until it was no longer an option. We worked and tortured ourselves over the success of our business and the reputation that was supposed to come along with it. So many joys, fights, and late night sessions wrapped up in MAKING the dream happen. Guess what? It didn’t. Lesson #4: Your first dream may not be the best dream. If you believe in the big God we do, you have to be ok with letting go when it is time. We have already starting reaping the fruits of starting over and have so many more yet to see.As anyone who knows us will tell you, it was not hard to find the photos to go in this blog post, because they are nearly all of those in existence containing the two of us. We are AWFUL at getting in front of the camera, even to show that a certain occasion or trip ever happened. And the fact that I happen to be one of the least photogenic people who has ever lived does not help. But that leads to Lesson #5: Document your life. Show that you lived it. Taking pictures of your kids is not enough. As I was putting these together, I was narrating our story to my three-year-old who was incredulous that whole sections of our life happened before she even existed. But we should have and still need to work on doing it more.By this point, I was weathering a thyroid disease which was playing games with my appearance, pregnant (also wreaking havoc on the appearance) and we were learning the downside of being grownups – namely, mortgage payments and long-term responsibility. We were kind of teetering between “Of course, we’re still young and cool and can stay up past eleven!” and “Let’s finish this NPR episode and go to bed. On second thought, let’s go to bed.” Lesson #6: Life is full of transition. Try not to go backward. You may not have envisioned yourself as someone of that age or lifestyle or socioeconomic standing, but you just might be that person anyway. Just be the best version of that person possible. Once Margot, and now Oliver entered our lives, we realized that our lives are not actually our own after all. On the one hand, that means that we now revolve around nap times, babysitters, and future planning. On the other hand, it is a commission to mold two new lives. There is no bigger priority nor greater calling. The last three years have been a whirlwind of new experiences – good, bad and ugly. But never boring. This bring us to now. 8 years married, two children. Margot is three and daily makes us wonder why we ever procreated and allowed our most annoying traits to manifest in our offspring. And then she dances and sends her wild curls bouncing and bobbing. Oliver showed his challenges at only five-weeks-old. Who knows what his future holds and what ugly challenges will be around every corner? But he is the sweetest, cuddliest soul who ever lived. I can easily see him being the embodiment of all things good and vulnerable. And who can resent that? Our children taught us Lesson #7: Every struggle brings with it some amount of joy. It may not be immediate. It may not be in equal parts. But there is grace for those that choose to live faithfully. And there is greater joy to come.We joked with each other a year ago that if we could get through the seven-year itch, we would make it until the end of our 50-year contract. (This was our original deal when we got married. After 50 years, we have the option to renegotiate our marriage. I’m getting a pool boy.) It’s been itchy, alright. But we’re still scratching…ok, I don’t like that metaphor anymore. Let’s move on. Year eight will prove to be an interesting one. But we’ll still be together. Still fighting, learning and trying not to kill each other. And that’s really what counts, isn’t it?Happy anniversary, my love. Only 42 more to go.