This is about us.
This is about perseverance.
This is about choices.
This is about the details.
This is about the big picture.
Growing up, together.
Growing old, together.
We were so young and so skinny!
Here we are, 10 years later.
A WHOLE DECADE!
This year on this day, marks seven years of marriage and ten years of 'time served' with my husband. There are many, many things you learn about a person in a decade. For instance, I know that Mark has two basic hairstyles: short and shorter. He grew it out once because I asked to see how it looked. And then, it was cut off again. I also know that he is high-lar-i-ous, compassionate, an amazing father, a good Spades partner, an even better player of Charades, professional fire-wood splitter, snoring champion, nerve-getter onner, forgiver, forgetter, coffee drinker, lover of my soul, budlightaholic (although, he has moved on to drinking at least better beer, recently) lover of my heart, gas maker (in all forms), and a chef only without the fancy cooking school degree.
These past ten years have been a journey, a season in our lives we are surely not going to forget. It has been hard, really hard, on most of these 3,650 days we've spent together. We were talking after the kids were snuggled in their beds recently, about how we have literally grown up together. I have spent my entire adult life living with you, learning you and with you, and navigating these rapid fire days with you.
Mark chased after me (and with good reason, I'm quite a catch) since before my 19th birthday. He likes to remember that he flashed that flirtatious smile, flexed his tatted biceps in his cut-off sleeveless work shirt, and that I fell over myself to be with him and his white Chevy truck. He also likes to believe that his 'game' was so awesome, that he could have lured me in with that alone. I'll spare you some of the 'game' he was 'spitting' my way so long ago. Most of it was ridiculous and I can't believe it worked on anyone ever.
I remember it a bit differently. I remember meeting him for the first time and thinking, wow-he's really, really, full of himself! And then, he called me incessantly for days, weeks, until I finally agreed to go out with him. (He will argue with me to the bitter end about this but it is so true. Ha!) Once, I did finally agree, I think it was more out of 'FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, ALRIGHT ALREADY!' Shortly after that, I was hooked (we already know he was wrapped around my finger by this point). We didn't spend too many days or nights without each other from then on. He was/is my lobster. We fit. Something about him made my crazy, not all the way crazy anymore. Technically, because he was a whole different kind of crazy but times infinity.
Regardless of how it all started, there are moments from this journey that I will never forget. He told his parents about me; about how I was 'the one' way before I was anywhere near ready to meet them. The days, weeks, years, we made so many bad and unhealthy choices. Many of them so awful, we shouldn't have been near each other; nor anyone else with a heart or eyes during those times. The days of slow dancing in a burning room. The walls crashing down all around us, crumbling every which way we turned. Yet, even still, how neither one of us could have come out of that awful phase of addiction and toxicity without the help of the other. We beat that, together.
When we got married, in his parent's backyard in front of the lake and under that big, beautiful, blue sky...I laughed. Y'all- I laughed the entire way down the aisle. I was a nervous wreck. We had already been together three years so it's not like it was 'too fast' or whatever. (Although, some would have argued then and still some would argue now, we never should have gotten married.) The enormity of what we were doing set in, at the precise moment I was walking down the aisle. My handsome father at my arm, my handsome man waiting for me at the end of the path, our family looking on with apprehension and fear and thinking: 'this is sooo not gonna last' and I was laughing--out loud laughing. Laughter has been a common thread throughout our lives; weaving us through the storms, knitting us closer, looping back on top of our troubles and then back through them to tie a knot of unity among us. Reminding us, two separate beings, that we can get through this, together.
Mark and I created two beautiful humans. Miracles really. My body was a terrible place for children to grow, per my doctors. It would never go to full term, they said. I'm not convinced that if my body were trying to hold someone else's child...it would have worked. I think we were meant to do this... the co-parenting thing, the falling in love thing. We aren't perfect parents (or perfect mates) but they are the perfect kids for us. I can't imagine trying to raise these tiny beings into semi-normal although slightly damaged, hilarious, yet still (hopefully) functional adults, with anyone else in the world.
You, dear husband, have cheered me on, brought me back down to earth, cried with me, laughed with me, argued with me, let me 'win', saw my guts on the operating room table (twice!), loved me, been upset with me, forgiven me, loved me some more, made fun of me, taught the kids how to make fun of me... tucked me in when I couldn't do it, held me when I thought life was too hard, and cooked me so many meals that I honestly can't count them. You haven't just fed my hunger for food though. You have fed my hunger for life. You see things so much differently than I. You are bold. You are fearless. You make me feel brave. You make me feel safe.
Mark's catch-all phrase
The times where I wanted to give up on us, the times when you finally realized and admitted I was crazy and there was no coming back from it, that you were stuck here on this crazy train with me unless you bailed. Those times where we woke up every day, right next to one another in our much too small queen sized bed, and chose to say 'I Love You' when it seemed so hard to be in the same room with one another. The one foot in front of the other days because any moment other than the one we were living in at that very second was just too hard to bear. The 'how did we make it this far?' days. The days when we were so infatuated with each other we could hardly stand to be away for a moment. Those precious bringing home the newborn Norah, 'what the hell were we thinking?! we can't raise another human being!' days. Those days quickly turned into, the 'We so got this!' days when Mark Patrick was brought home. And then I morphed into a crazy, tearful, hormonal alien again, cause really world?! two babies?! WHAT?! How did this happen?! Days where I was convinced that gravity was working against me. Wherever you found me- you always dug me out of the hole of depressions and anxieties and nursed me back to normal. You said, I could do this. You said, we could do this. And I believed you. You believed me.
Are these days of questions gone? The one foot in front of the other days? The please get out of my face, I really need my space days? No. They aren't gone. They are no more gone than you and I; ten years later, still waking up in our too little queen sized bed together making the choice to say and live, "I love you." I know I am hard to love. I know I am hard-headed and sometimes hard-hearted. I know I am selfish, and prissy, and not one of those tough kind of girls. I know I am silly, petty, and flighty. I know you know I am really hard of hearing, clumsy, aggravating, and impossible. You think my choice of music is questionable most days. I'll never be able to let go of my John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, No Doubt, Black Eyed Peas and bubblegum pop. I know you know all of this and love me not in spite of these things, but because of these things.
So, whaddya say? Ready for decade numero dos?
Maybe we can have the big house with the garden and the farm and the resturant in this next decade? Maybe?
Either way...I'm in. I'm all in.
Honestly, the part that has been the most difficult, yet the most rewarding, is that we have and are literally growing up, together; every day.
I love you, baby.
I'm not gonna find another you.
-Quaylon Townsent Jensent aka Scooter