Thursday, July 16, 2009
307: so, this is ten.
Ryan and my first date was ten years ago today.
We met the summer of 1999 when I had just finished my first year of college, a series of strange circumstances with missed opportunities, switched room mates, and me not anywhere near single.
Despite all this, we wrote each other letters, gave each other mix tapes (me) and CDs (him, always the more technologically advanced).
Our first date was at Z Harvest, one of those local-friendly, health conscious restaurants that are a rarity in Green Bay's ever-growing chain infatuation, and after, we walked along the bay. I wore a wine colored dress; he wore a white button down shirt and khakis. He drove his father's car, which now belongs to his sister, with two baby-seats in the back. He was looking at an apartment in Milwaukee the next day, and invited me to join him, so our date extended into the next day. We watched Othello and sweated on the balcony of his friend's apartment on the third floor, the trees stretching into the sky.
The next day, I left for Hawaii with my family and wrote to him every day, fell asleep listening to the music he played on his guitar and recorded onto a CD for me. I was nineteen, and he was twenty, and the years have been good to us.
I never imagined what it would be like to grow old with someone. I had never gotten beyond the first apartment in my mind. But when I met Ryan, I knew. It's strange to say that, and some might shrug it off, but I knew. Inside, I knew that I would love this man, I knew that I would want him to be in my life in whatever way possible, for as long as I could keep him. And somehow, some way, I got lucky. Because he felt the same way about me.
So many other things have fit into these ten years: we were both undergraduates, both got a Master's degree, and I went back for more. We've owned our house for four years now, been married for two. We've got two cats, two dogs, two cars. We plant a garden together in the spring, cut down the heads of sunflowers and feed them to the squirrels in the fall. We walk our dogs along the bluffs, hold hands while watching movies, make dinner together in the late evening light. We've loved each other every day, been frustrated with one another, fought without speaking. We've never broken up, or even meant to break up, we've surprised each other with visits when we've lived apart, we've given each other the gift of music, of laughter, of one another. We've waited for one another, we've been patient. We kiss each other in the morning and before we go to bed. We say I love you and mean it. We support each other in the difficult moments of life, we celebrate the victories, we tell each other, It won't always be this hard when we think we cannot make it one more moment. We've seen each other through phases in our lives and made it through, from unsteady college student to someone with a career.
I'll be lucky with each day I have with him; each decade is an immense gift. He is the man I want to grow old with: I am proud of him in so many ways, his intelligence and patience and unfaltering kindness. But most of all, I love who I am when I am with him, and I love who I have become because of him. He makes me want to be a better person, has inspired me to do better things with my life, with my time, with my energy. He's the perfect person to grow old with and to be the father of my children.
Each day is a gift. I've had ten years of them so far.