A letter to my wife on the occasion of our tenth anniversary

When it’s hard to believe in anything, it seems silly to believe in fate. It’s a fanciful concept built on hope, acquiescence, or desperation. Yet, I can find no other reason we ever met, no other reason we’re still together. You didn’t mean or want to end up in the place we met. I didn’t ever intend to be in the room either. Even then, it probably shouldn’t have been. Your life was taking you in so many different emotional directions. I was lost. We were as likely to wander away from each other as we were to end up as we are now. And yet, as ridiculous as it sounds, I knew the very moment I saw you that we would be together forever or I would end up as unhappy as I thought I deserved to be.

It still amazes me, the weird road we traveled in those early years and how we managed to navigate it to the point we actually had a life together. If not for love–and it can be nothing but that–our relationship should have ended when I moved hundreds of miles away and to a place I hated. I left you, a woman I no doubt loved, and moved to a place I hated. I worked a job I hated. Nothing was right except those long Friday nights I spent driving up I-55 through the darkness and the moment I fell in bed with you. Those were the times I felt right, felt whole. Careening at breakneck speed through midnight, through 2am, through the bugs and dirt of I-70, and finally into the only place that made me happy. If I didn’t believe in love before that, I was sold then. It didn’t matter I had to leave less than 48 hours later every time. I’d still do it today if I had to.

Most women would’ve left me for pulling out a ring in the middle of a dive bar and proposing marriage. Most women wouldn’t have waited for two years after I popped the question to get married. Most women wouldn’t have put up with everything you’ve endured with me. It’s been clear for so many years that you are not only unlike other women, you’re unlike most people.

No, you’re not perfect. You lose your mind when your hungry, you occasionally go unwound in ways I don’t understand, and you don’t like steak or pork chops. These things notwithstanding, I can’t imagine myself traveling this admittedly odd path with anyone else. Even in your imperfections, I find beauty. Your passion, your patience, and your endurance are hard to fully comprehend. You’ve taken those traits and used them to become the mother that every child wants.

When we had kids, I thought it could drive us to opposite sides of the bed. I thought it might suck the air from our passion for our lives and make us dull. Instead, parenthood as only made me love you more–so much more that I sometimes feel giddy.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t comprehend ten years. I couldn’t imagine being past my mid-30s, a father of two kids, and in an odd job that tonight finds me listening to the street noise of Lima, Peru thousands of miles away from you. At this hour ten years ago, I was sitting in a bar and trying to figure out if I was cut out for marriage. Twenty-four hours later, I was married to you and the happiest man I knew. I’ve remained that way from that day until now.

I don’t know what will happen in the next ten years. I don’t know if life will continue to deal us such a great hand every time. I don’t know if things can stay so perfect. I only know this:

I wouldn’t believe in love if it weren’t for you.

June 3, 2000