Memories I do not want to forget.

Realizing we had two separate bathrooms in our new home, our first home, the one we bought together. We each shouted from the bathrooms. It was silly but it was our home.

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Sitting at the table, the kitchen nook behind you, your red sweater and gentle face backlit by the setting sun. What we ate, I don’t know, though I do know it’s documented in a photograph somewhere. Music played, we danced in our seats. You bopped your head and snapped your fingers and swayed this way and that way. The excitement of our first dinner in our new home, our first home, the one we bought together. Nothing else mattered in this moment. 

Memories I do not want to forget.

Waking up in Florence, Italy. It was September of 2017. They had already left the Airbnb we were renting (they: my husband and our two friends). That morning I told my husband to go, I’d be fine staying behind. It was our last day in Florence and though I could barely get out of bed–morning sickness was strong–I wanted at least one set of our eyes to see the city. I could relive the day through his photographs, it was enough for me. After much persuasion, he left with our two friends.

I slept all morning. I slept into the afternoon. Finally, I stepped out the front door, lush greens everywhere, wildflowers and rolling country hills. The air was warm against my seafoam green sweater. You could hear the birds singing, the air dancing, the wind blowing ever so softly. I sat on the chair on the hill and breathed. The stillness felt more alive than the city.

Was it as beautiful as I remember? Or does my memory make it more?

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It was the day before and I was still wearing my seafoam green sweater, the one I purchased in Annecy, France. I’m not sure why I forgot to pack a sweater. It was warm, in fact, I think I had my sweater tied around my waist. Giardino Di Boboli. We wandered what felt like a maze. The Fountain of Neptune and many others. The trees blocked any sounds coming from the city. No cars, just the breeze, your hand in my hand, a pack of saltines in my purse to keep nausea down. Still, we were happy. I felt free. Our own secret garden, just you and me. The sun was hot and beat against our skin and so we sat for awhile in the grass, on the stairs, on a bench, too. We watched tourists roam, tourists ourselves. It was us and the 7-week old baby inside of me. She’s due in 3 weeks.

you're the only one (for me).

You're the one I love when the storm clouds are thick and grey.
You're the one I love when water pours into the boat.
When the waves feel sixty feet high, you're the one I love. You're the one I crave.

You're the only one I want to fall down this mountain with. 
You're the only one I want run across this desert with.

You're the only one who makes my heart beat and fills my lungs with air.
You're my Jupiter up in the sky, and you're my hand to hold at night.

Tangled in blankets, shivering, wrapped around each other, hoping, praying.
"I don't know,"
you say.
"I know,"
I reply.

You're the only one I love amongst so much unknown.

Still, you're the only one who sees the beacon in the distance and rows with all his might.
You're the only one that sees the rain and builds a dam to withhold it.
You're the only one who hears the word no and turns it into a yes. 
You're the only one who keeps his eyes open amongst the hail or  dust.

You're the only one I love. The only one I crave.

This is why I love you.

This is why I love you,

because when I lift up my skirt to show you the new stretch marks forming across my thighs–spider webs intertwined with one another–your eyes light up and you see the universe in my thighs. You see planets and bright starry galaxies and a world where anything is possible and everything is beautiful.

 

This is why I love you,

because when I lift up my shirt to show you my growing belly–a mountain growing out of the earth–you see a fortress, a castle, the home caring for your daughter, the vessel making room for change to come and inhabit our lives, something we've longed for for so long.

 

You love me for who I am, what I speak, the things I do and think, the woman I am. You see me not as the world sees me, not how the world makes me see me, but as both your equal and your other half. You see my flesh and my soul, the deepest parts of my being, and you still love me. 

 

I do not entirely recognize this body I live in. It changes each day and aches in new ways. And while sometimes I feel lost in myself and I can only see the new blue veins forming across my chest, you see rivers and setting suns, moons and wild flowers. The moon flickers back in your eyes, and you remind me of who I still am. 

"It's Not About Communicating, It's About Connecting," or, "What 548 Days of Marriage Have Shown Me."

Sometimes I get scared about writing publicly about my marriage (okay well to the maybe two of you who might read my blog, but that’s still a lot to me) because it’s so sacred. Before I was married, I always knew marriage was sacred, and I think I even knew why it was so sacred, but I didn’t fully understand just how sacred it really was, and how much you have to do to protect it. Marriage is both the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything is exacerbated in that everything you do affects another human being’s life so intimately and the until death do us part side of things also adds to that intensity. And yet, marriage is so freeing and beautiful, so easy. I am entirely myself with my husband, feel entirely safe next to him and being married to him is simply so much fun.

We’ve been married for exactly a year and a half, to the day. That is such a crazy thought to me! I spent 27 years of my life unmarried, and now here I am married and it’s only the beginning and yet it already feels like I’ve known my husband forever. How did that happen?

I’m a huge self-help book junkie, so much so that in the past month I’ve had two individuals come up to me and ask if I could specifically recommend some self-help books to them (ha!). The one I’m reading right now is called “Keep Your Love On!” by Danny Silk and both the title and the cover image are uber cheesy but this book is incredible. It’s a religious one, but not overly religious and I would recommend it to anyone whether they’re religious or not. There’s so much you can learn from it. The part I’ve been thinking about this past week went something like this:

1. It’s my job to control myself. I do not get to control other people.

2. My number-one goal and priority in relationships is building and protecting connection. 

My husband and I are really great at fighting, and I share this while laughing at the same time, because one, it’s true, and two, I never thought it would be true and yet here we are. The thing that’s great about fighting is that it means two people are standing up for themselves and what they believe in, even if it’s hard. In my past relationships, my exes and I didn’t fight at all and guess what? It’s because I never stood up for myself and was always lying about how I felt. It ended up making things worse and thus we broke up. With my husband, we are entirely ourselves, 100% of the time, and while this is one of those freeing aspects I described above, somedays it can make things hard, causing us to get into arguments. 

I’ve read it over and over again, communication is the key to lasting relationships, but I don’t entirely agree. It doesn’t matter how great you are at communicating, life is still going to happen and things are going to come up that cause tension. The key to getting through hard times isn’t about proper communication, the key is about remembering your connection, and that means letting stuff go, even without a resolution.

This means that my love for my husband and my priority of connecting with my husband are more important than who is right and who is wrong. It means connecting with my husband and protecting our love and connection is more important than coming to a conclusion or settling a matter. It most definitely means that we will probably agree to disagree (and not with pride but with acceptance!), because often it’s not about what the issue is, it’s about how we will choose to get through the issue together. That how being us choosing to connect, rather than continuing to debate an issue. 

Pride so often gets in the way and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been arguing when we both realize we don’t even know why we are arguing, we’re just being stubborn and prideful. This pride often blocks my ability to love my husband and show him that he is my priority, not the dishes, or bills, or health concerns, or whatever. It’s him and I, together, that matter. One night, instead of continuing to argue, I told my husband that building and protecting our connection is more important to me (cheesy, I know, but you should have seen his face light up). He’s told me the same thing a few times during heated discussions. Almost instantly, the problem dissolves and we’re back to focusing on what really matters: our love and connection.

This part of the book was so beautiful, too:

Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment, replaces it with freedom and safety, and invites each person to bring his or her best self forward in a relationship.

Religious or not, I really do believe that love is a spiritual connection. It’s something that we cannot necessarily see but instead, we feel it intensely. Love is sometimes not even something we feel, but something we choose, much like faith. It binds people together with a belief in something greater, Love. I’m reminded of all the times my husband has shown me small bits of love, and how much they’ve meant to me. The big bits of love obviously mean a lot, but the small bits are almost more meaningful. They show me that he cares despite everything else going on. He remembers me. He chooses me. He loves me. I’m reminded of how those tiny acts of love and kindness have drowned out my self-doubt or insecurities. It doesn’t take much to fill someone’s cup. It can be small, but the consistency of these small amounts of love add up.

So that is that. I cannot control my husband, or anyone else, but I can control myself and how I react, and I can choose to react in protecting and building my connection with my husband, and those else around me. 

The past 548 days of marriage have been the best days of my entire life (even the feminist side of me agrees). I have learned so much in the past year and a half and I just feel so grateful for it all. I know life is a rollercoaster and we’ve barely dipped our toes into marriage. Thus, I don’t have a conclusion, just snippets of what I’ve learned through this journey so far. A journey I am so blessed and excited to be on. 

6 things 6 months of marriage has taught me.

It's a day shy of our six month wedding anniversary and oh my, does time ever fly. We're getting way better at this marriage thing, and each day I can honestly say I wake up more in love with him and more excited for a lifetime together. But, I will say, there have been difficult moments. Here are six things I've learned through six months of marriage.

1. Marriage shows you your selfishness. 

    I never thought of myself as a selfish person, in fact, pardon me for saying this but I always thought I was a very selfLESS person. But no, marriage has shown me how selfish I am, which is actually a really great thing, because selfishness is a horrible trait to have. Marriage is not about you, it’s about the person you’re married to.

2. Marriage is really fun.

    Obviously, duh, but I had some fears about the whole marriage thing, and the stats aren’t great. So far, every one of my fears has been proven wrong. Marriage is fun for a million and a half reasons, and more. So much of marriage is how you react to one another. You can choose to respond in frustration when you are really tired, or you can choose to respond in laughter and silliness when you’re really tired. 

3. Find your “thing” together.

    Life happens really quickly, and it’s been so healthy for us to find our “thing” together. Now we have certain days where we do certain things, and they are something that, each week, we look forward to. For example, Sunday afternoon sushi dates, or evening walks in the park. Being able to share our traditions together, and make new ones, allows us to reconnect, no matter how busy the week has been. 

4. Protect your marriage.

    If you don’t protect your marriage, it’s easy to let things come in the way of it, and I’m not talking about the big things (like cheating or affairs), I’m talking about the little things. The little things where you don’t realize at first how detrimental something may be. Whether it’s comparing your marriage to other people’s marriages in a negative way, or keeping white lies from one another, or showing contempt to one another, these are all things that can cause great damage over time. So protect your marriage. Get rid of anything toxic, including toxic thoughts.

5. Marriage is like surfing.

    I’ve only ever surfed once and it was really, really hard, so perhaps this is a bad analogy, but marriage is like surfing in that marriage comes in waves. There are hard times, there are happy times, there are boring times, there are exciting times, there are all of the times that are going to happen in life and that therefore happen in your marriage. You just have to ride it out. Ride out the hard times, whether it’s something you’re dealing with, your spouse is dealing with, or you’re dealing with together. Ride the waves. Things get better. 

6. Marriage is about embracing one another’s differences. 

    I remember one day telling my husband that I wanted him to make the bed a certain way. It was probably after I had told him that I liked the kitchen a certain way, the living room a certain way, the bathroom a certain way, and the car parked a certain way. Instead of being annoyed at me, he replied, in all of his gentleness, “ya know, I think you’re more type A, but I’m more type LMNOP.” Recognizing our differences as a good thing, and embracing the other person’s differences, has only strengthened our marriage (and allowed me to have a lot more fun, too). 

Pondering serious things.

I’ve began to ponder serious things, although I’ve always pondered serious things. Too serious and too sensitive, these are words I often hear, and yet I still find myself wondering what is wrong with either of these things. 

Perhaps, though, the seriousness, is because now I can imagine all of these things with some sense of reality. I know age plays a factor, and the time of life I’m in and my friends are in. The things we are walking through individually and together, of our parents growing older, getting sick and dying, of pregnancies and miscarriages, of marriages and divorces, of things like that. Things that are serious and real. Things that I am only at the very beginning stages of. Things I didn’t think much about as a kid, but that are now creeping in. My husband tells me he is starting to feel old, his birthday is only a few weeks away, and yet I wonder how my father feels. Today is his birthday, and he’s almost twice our age. Dad, do you feel old? I wonder if I could ever ask him these questions candidly, as a friend, and if he could ever answer me candidly, as a friend, or if he would choose an answer that only a father would give a daughter in order to protect her, one that would hide his fears in order to alleviate any of her fears. I wonder if he even thinks the way I think, or rather, if I think the way he thinks, and if we ponder these things together, separately in our own spaces. I wonder if he realizes that he will eventually be the oldest in our immediate family line once his own mother is gone. I wonder if my dad thinks about the fact that he’s entering the latter part of his life, and if he is scared and thinks about death. I wonder if it feels like standing in a line at the DMV or at the bank, both business and fatigue circling the air, waiting for that voice, next, and next again. Then again, my father is only 56, and for as serious as I am, I am optimistic, and I am determined that each one of us, myself, my father, and my husband included, will live to be one hundred. Perhaps death is not near for any of us, and this brings me a sense of relief.

But it isn’t death I think of lately. The serious things right now mostly revolve around building something greater. That’s what marriage feels like. It feels like being crazy enough and in love enough to choose to marry someone, no matter what comes our way, in order to build something greater. A home, both literal and as a feeling, a family beyond just us and our two dogs, careers, holidays, family get togethers. History. It feels like I’m building a history that for the first time in my life, I can now start to picture.

Because when I wasn’t married, I could only imagine. Maybe we’ll live here and maybe he’ll look like this and maybe we’ll do this together and maybe our kids will be like this and maybe our thing together will be that and maybe we’ll never fight and maybe this and maybe that and, other than my own personal goals, the rest has been a bunch of maybes. 

And so the seriousness, the seriousness comes like this: I know who my husband is, I know where we live, I know what our careers are, I know the things we enjoy doing together and I know what makes us fight. I also know the things we do to not fight and instead the ways we choose to be humble. I know that we could move and I know that our careers could still change. But even now, I feel like I can picture our kids, which I’ve never been able to do before, because I know the parts of him and the parts of me and the how these will mix and make kids who will probably be like this or that and even though I’m sure they’ll be entirely different than I could ever imagine, I feel like I can sort of sense what they will be like. Somehow. Someday. 

I continue pondering. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more exciting when you don’t let things get under your skin. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more fun when you try something new. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more vibrant when you embrace the unknown. I ponder the seriousness of life and realize that no matter how I try to picture it, it’s always going to be changing and surprising me, and the best I can do is not to hold on but to let go. To let go and let things happen how they are supposed to happen in order to feel the joy and also the sorrow but then once again the joy that comes after the sorrow. 

I’ve changed since I have gotten married. I honestly don’t know if every married person feels this way or if it’s just me and my seriousness. I know I am the same person I was before I was married and yet, I don’t feel at all like the person I was just months ago. Maybe it’s because marriage felt so unknown and now that I’m here, I see who I am rather than imagine who I will be. And as much as I am the person I imagined I would be, for I am still me, I feel different. 

Maybe I feel different because now I know that every single decision I make personally affects another human being, and whatever human beings we are able to create. I knew that would happen, but I didn’t know it to happen. With dating, there was always the option to abandon ship, and that’s what was always chosen. Rather than continue to stay in different individuals' lives for better and eventually for worse, we could end the worse and simply move on to other things. I can’t do that anymore, and so I certainly feel different. 

Maybe I feel different because marriage has taught me how selfish I can be. It’s no longer about my ambition alone, it’s about both of our ambitions, whether I like all of his or not, because again, I can’t leave and I won’t. Maybe to some that sounds awful, but it’s actually quite beautiful. It’s a love I’ve never fully known until now. To sacrifice so much of one’s self for another, that takes a whole lot of beautiful and crazy and entirely raw love. It’s a type of love that has allowed me to understand God in a new light, because before I was married, I could hardly even utter (type) the word God if I knew it was going to be in a blog post, but now I can most certainly type God and know that His love is as real as anything in this world. Recognizing my selfishness isn’t a bad thing either. It’s taught me to be a better human, not just for my husband, but for others, and also for my own self. Marriage isn’t suffocating like I thought it would be. It’s sad to say I even thought that way, but it was a fear of mine, a deeply rooted fear that took months of serious inner-dialogue for me to confront and move past. Instead, marriage has actually been quite freeing. So freeing, in fact, I wonder why more don't do it.

And as it goes, I continue to ponder. I continue to ponder what life will be like in one year and five years and ten years and thirty. But I also stop to remind myself that life only exists right now, and so to be in this moment and embrace this moment and try new things and to always let go.

Because as it goes, when we let go, we create new space for all those beautifully serious things to come in. And we shouldn’t be afraid of them, oh no, because that is what life is: a collection of tiny and big and confusing and bright moments that whether experienced with another or completely on our own, are building something greater.