Ten years ago you asked me on our first date and even though I hoped you wouldn’t wear your camo jacket I said yes. Snowfall fresh made the world new again and we walked in the dark with the fluffy white flakes lit by lanterns thinking maybe the world was just created again— a new layer that marked the beginning of you and me.
We were two people of millions, billions, to ever drink hot chocolate on a winter’s night, to brush against each other casually with mittened hands. Do you remember what we talked about that night? I cannot remember a single word of it. I remember I had whipped cream in my hot chocolate dotted with chocolate sprinkles that looked like little footprints in the snow; I remember who else was at the coffee shop, I remember wanting to sit far enough away from you to send a clear message that we were not a couple. I remember my cheeks hurt from laughing when I got back to my dorm and I remember the flicker of disappointment when it was time to say goodnight. I remember thinking as I fell asleep last night that I’d like to do that again.
How can it already and only have been ten years? I look around at our house and baby, at our friends and our vacations, our businesses and our floral dishes and I think yes, that’s a lot for ten years. But in the same moment it is not nearly enough to account for all those breaths you and I have taken in the last ten years, all the words and glances between us, the trips, the sicknesses, the bad dreams and the dinners out; the hard decisions and the good news and all the self development that takes place in your twenties. What I see around me today is a fraction of what we are. It is a rock of the mountain of you that I carry inside my heart.
Before we married we stuffed ourselves full of dreams and imagined our lives out of a catalogue. We browsed through it and saw pictures of ourselves making pancakes in pajamas and strolling through farmer’s markets with coffee cups in hand. And sure, we’ve had plenty of those days in the thousand-something days you and I have shared a last name, but I realize now that those aren’t the things that make a marriage. Days of sunshine don’t nourish trust, and it is the moments when I have been at my lowest and you have refused to let me stay there that has made this love between us a deep well. It is me holding up drywall while you screw it into our leaky ceiling and it is your feet sliding out of bed onto the cold hardwood floor when our baby calls for us at an hour neither of us would like to be awake. I look around my house today and I realize this is what makes a marriage: the kitchen table you built for me covered in flowers and stems so that we have to eat with our plates on our laps because you refuse to be anything but a catalyst for my dreams.
Our marriage doesn’t look the way we dreamed it would, and I am thankful for that, because our dreams for it were too small. If we never fought what would we have ever learned about ourselves and if we never took risks how would we have ever known our boundaries? Sometimes at night, we lie on the couch in front of our fire, in perfect, beautiful silence, bellies full and breath slow and I think, I wanted our marriage to change the world. But maybe changing the world starts with protecting each other, with keeping your marriage in a place where you can sit close enough to the other person to feel their breath and know that inside them is a full resounding immortal soul for knowing, encouraging and challenging.
Maybe marriage is as delicate and as full of strength as the wing of a butterfly—rub or bend it the wrong way and it disintegrates, but give it air and room and it will carry something twice its weight a great distance. Maybe our marriage is like this: flashes of lightning vibrance nourished by the reliability of the mundane. i can write a book and start a flower business because I know every morning you will make me coffee and scrambled eggs, and you can take risks with yours because you I will mop the floors and make you laugh and turn each problem into an adventure.
That first date in the snow a decade ago was full of good things and uncertainty as we tried to see the other person for who they were. Today we know a little better but are still sorting out the person who sits across from us at this table covered in flower stems. I don’t remember the conversation we had ten years ago and I don’t remember the conversation we had this morning, but I know it is richer and more seasoned, full of trust and built up from all these years we cannot see circling around us.
Tonight we’ll go out for coffee and maybe it will snow, and you’ll ask me through your questions and heart to be yours like you did that night ten years ago, and even though I’ll probably ask you not to wear your camo jacket, my answer again and always is yes.