I’m writing this from the guest room of our home. Behind me, the rain pounds against the windows; powerful enough to keep my thoughts quiet, but gentle enough not to drown out the sound of waves crashing along the shore just outside of these walls. Somewhere along that sunless beach, my husband is surfing. Before me is a picture from our wedding day. I am distracted once again. The memories clobber over me like a tsunami. Two years later and I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever really looked at this picture. We were so happy. Everything felt so pure and perfect that day. Why does this feel like I’m pressing on an old bruise? We are still happy!
Suddenly, finding the words to express my thoughts becomes impossible. I log out. That’s enough pondering for one day.
Our anniversary is approaching and times like these carry along the urge to write. It’s easy to romanticize love during the special moments. I want to pour my heart out, emphasizing my gratitude and adoration for the person whom I’ve built this phenomenal foundation with, but for the sake of reality, I want to make this honest. There are many cracks in this concrete. Things aren’t always pretty.
Though we’ve been together now for seven years, these last two have been more trying than I previously remember. Some days I’m on cloud nine wondering, how could a girl like me ever be granted with so much joy? Why am I so lucky? What does he even see in me? On the darker days, I question everything. You’ve been with this man since you were only 16 years old, Ashley. How could you be so sure that he’s the one when he’s all you’ve ever known? Are the fights worth the fun? Is your life too short?
Love is a weird thing, isn’t it? It brings along so much baggage. So many emotions. A few weeks ago, love brought me that immense happiness you only see in children. We were camping out at a friend’s wedding reception. We laid in the grass with our legs tangled up, star-gazing, and somehow while staring up at the never-ending universe, I still felt like we were the only two things out there. Just days following that magical night, love made me turn the shower on so I could sob without him noticing, until there was nothing left in me but numbness and a sick stomach from drinking too much wine without eating.
Relationships aren’t as black and white as we’ve all been led to believe. Why don’t people talk more about the struggles? Why do we hide the bad parts of life from the rest of the world? We give others unrealistic expectations when we only show one side of every story. It’s ludicrous and impractical.
This shit is tough.
I’m blessed to have met a man that allows me to grow wild and freely as I begin to learn who I am and where I stand in this world. The girl he fell for all of those years back isn’t the woman that I am today. Still, he accepts me. He embarks on his own journey of self-realization as we grow older together, but he does it alongside of me– never pushing or pulling me in any direction. That means something to me. I am thankful.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been distant and detached. I’m hard to read. I’m quick to give up and hit the restart button. I’m the first person to run away. I embrace change. I prefer it, actually. Routine has always been an enemy of mine. I don’t seek stability the way that most humans do. I’m not looking for any answers. Instead, I listen to the way that my heart is pulling me. I’ve lived my entire life by that pull. I am almost pure definition of a Sagittarius and I like to blame my flaws on the alignment of those stars, even though I don’t believe the two to be related.
I’m painfully realistic and sometimes that comes across as pessimism. I always feel like goodbyes are waiting just behind the hellos; that every beginning must have an ending. Memento Mori. For those unfamiliar, that’s an ancient practice of reflection on mortality. It’s a constant reminder for me that my world is impermanent. It’s humbling. Empowering. Uplifting. Though, on the flip side, it leaks into my personality and stains my relationships.
I am not an easy person to parallel with. In my eyes, my husband is heroic for what he does. He is strong. He has loved me beyond anything I’ve ever known. Quite often I take that for granted. (We both take turns doing that, I suppose.) His personality is much different than my own. He is openly affectionate, tender, serious, and thoughtful. He functions best when being coddled and cosseted, but my stubbornness and independence doesn’t allow me to do those things. Every now and then he questions my endearment. Each time feels like a knife to the heart. I lash out and so does he. We both feel misunderstood and cornered, leaving us defensive and elusive. Our fights can be chaotic.
“Cracks in the concrete- the reminder that you can fall apart no matter how strong you are.”
I’m grateful for those moments, too. They remind us how intensely we love one another. Our conversations during catastrophe prepare us for all the storms to come. The spaces between those cracks open up and the flowers begin to emerge.
That photo… that god-damned beautiful wedding photo- it was a trigger. It feels like lifetimes have passed between us since it was taken. We’re a thousand miles away from that couple now. They’re just people we used to know, and though it makes me sad, I’m also filled with pride. Hand-in-hand, we walked those thousand miles together and it wasn’t always easy.
Alexander, my love-
The future holds so much mystery. I don’t know what to expect within our marriage. I don’t know if we will always choose each other. I don’t know if we’ll have kids and live Ye Olde American Dream. I don’t even know who you and I will be in the coming years, but I do know some things. I know that you fill me with raw emotion; a gentle and full kind of joy; a generous and playful way of life. I know that in your grip, my anxiety loosens its own. I know that your hugs feel like home. I know there hasn’t been a single second of my life wasted with you by my side.
You have taught me the most about life and myself. I am the happiest, warmest, truest, calmest- any and all superlatives that can be inserted here to describe just how right you feel- with you.
I appreciate you, your matchless presence in my life, and all that you have blessed me with, both indirectly and directly. Through all of the great unknown, my love for you will always remain.
I am forever indebted to you.