Ten years ago today, Joe and I had our first date. The date itself was nothing remarkable (we just went out for pizza, where he assumed I would pay for my half of the pizza we ordered -- something I still tease him about), but by the end of the night, I think we both felt the possibilities that existed between us. They had weight, and they were heavy and impossible to ignore. I was 17 and he was 20, but I think we both knew that first night that this was The Real Thing.
That date was a long time in coming. When we first met, earlier that year, neither of us was crazy about the other. He thought I was a silly, shallow high school girl; I thought he was a jerk who spoke his mind without a censor, regardless of who he hurt with his opinions. But he soon discovered that what he mistook for silliness in me was instead an inherent positivity that remained strong even after all I’d been through; and what I thought was brashness in him was really just confidence, self-assuredness -- things he had to work at, that didn’t come easy for him and never had.
That first night, after our pizza, we held hands in the front yard of his house (the house that, seven years later, would become our own home) and looked up at the star-filled sky. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can remember the exact pattern of the stars. I remember how the air felt -- warm, but with a chilly undertone that told us fall was close. I remember the feel of the grass, already wet with dew, tickling my feet around my sandals. And I remember how he felt, standing there beside me -- warm, solid, strong, right.
I remember the way he rubbed his thumb across my palm (something he still does in an unconscious gesture of intimacy) and how electric my skin felt where he touched it. I remember every detail of that night vividly: what we were wearing, what we talked about, every single second of our first kiss.
He first told me he loved me on January 8, 2001. Nine years later on that very day, we would welcome our second son into the world.
Some people think it’s amazing that we’re still together, ten years later. After all, we’re not the same people at 27 and 30 as we were at 17 and 20. Not even close. But instead of growing apart over the years, we’ve grown together. We’ve been through so much -- so much more than many couples go through in an entire lifetime -- and we’ve seen each other at our worst and best, and loved each other in our weakest and strongest moments. We are partners, in everything.
Our marriage is a real one, and it’s not even close to perfect. Sometimes we’re more like friends than lovers, sometimes we take each other for granted, sometimes we forget to cultivate this union we’ve created. And sometimes, our marriage requires a lot of work. But when things get really hard, I always find myself traveling back in time to that first night, when our world was filled with possibilities, when we had no idea how amazing our future and our life together was going to be. Back before Andrew, before William, before mortgages and jobs and responsibilities, there was just us.
There we were. And here we are.