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.

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 unyeilding. 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 diamond ring in my pocket that I planned to spring on her a week later. 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. 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.