Twelve years in love, eight years official
You should have seen her. She wore denim overall shorts and a shirt that rose up over her hips. Everything about her turned me into a 13-year-old boy. The bare section of her midriff made me crazy. She let me take her to Shakes for a pizza–shrimp on whole wheat crust–and let me talk for two hours. She barely ate. At this point, I knew she was the one and that one day I would marry this woman. I started thinking about engagement rings immediately and how to make her my wife.
My friend Joey Two-Hands asked about her. What’s her name, he wondered when I introduced them. For the first time ever–and it had already been a long ever with Joey–I turned to him and said, “No.”
I had no claim on her. She was uncommitted, but unyielding. I was a beer-gutted wanderer, aimless and unsure. Some forty days later she let me kiss her in the middle of a crowd at the Blue Note. She saw something in me–in us–that I couldn’t define. I was beside myself and confused. It was what I wanted, but it didn’t make sense–someone like her with someone like me. We didn’t make it official for a couple more months. There was something about us that had a hard time making things official. It was rarely a decision. Between the two of us, things just happened.
Two years later, we stood in a dive bar in Springfield, Missouri. I had a diamond ring in my pocket that I planned to spring on her a week later. I had already been looking at antler wedding rings and been thinking about potential wedding venues in anticipation of her answer. Plied with Corona and Jager–a romantic cocktail if there ever was one–I was like I’ve always been: unable to control myself. Even though the moment was horrible (the bar singer was singing “How Do You Say Fuck You In Spanish?”), I let it happen. I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and I was honestly surprised.
We spent the next two years wandering from Missouri, to Mississippi, to South Carolina. By the time we reached the Palmetto State, we had a dog named Scoop and no wedding rings. Sure, we’d considered some moissanite rings, some diamond rings, so many different kinds, but still we hadn’t chosen one. Finally, on this day in 2000, we stood on the Eastern Continental Divide and said we would.
I have lived a fortunate life. In spite of my aimless ways and wanderlust, my life has settled on a direction I couldn’t have planned so well. I owe most of it to the woman I call my wife. There are few people who would put up with so much, expect so little, and give back more than they’re getting. I have not been a perfect husband. I’ve been a bad one at times. It’s taken me eight years to realize how much I owe her.
It’s now 2am on my eighth anniversary and my wife is asleep in bed. We will celebrate when we wake up. But, as I sit here tonight in a quiet house, I can’t help but wonder what my life would’ve been without her. It’s selfish to think, but I do anyway. I can’t imagine it. I don’t want to.
I don’t know where we’ll be in another eight years. I don’t know where will be in eight months. I can only hope I’ve been a good enough husband to earn her love every day. I can only hope I make her as happy as she makes me.
I can only hope she knows how much I love her.