We’re just kids. Legally adults, old enough to vote and order a cocktail, but young and full of foolish dreams. We just met a few months ago but our hearts fit together like puzzle pieces and we’re already picking china patterns (just kidding, people don’t really do that anymore).
We rent a car and drive to Chicago for spring break in March of 2016. Chicago is the closest place you can buy my favorite Turkish beer, and that seems as good of a reason for a road trip as any. We would have taken one of our own cars but they both break down within a week of our trip. Someone upstairs clearly doesn’t want me to buy this beer but I’m on a mission.
We spend a few days wandering the city doing nothing of importance, but we laugh until our cheeks hurt and take way too many pictures. We order Chipotle and eat it in our hotel bed, we hide in the hedges at Millenium Park and people-watch. We wait in line for 45 minutes to eat brunch because Yelp told us to.
In a month you’re going to propose. I don’t know this yet, but when you take out the ring I will not be surprised. Right now we’re still just kids, letting ourselves drift aimlessly through the world, never feeling our feet touch the ground. Tethers and anchors will find us soon, but not today, not in Chicago.
It’s March of 2017 and we’re in the throes of wedding planning. I’m working full time to pay for our tiny apartment while you finish school. On the weekends we drive two hours to taste test carrots and stare at nearly-identical lengths of lace, hemming and hawing about which one will look better in a boutonniere. We agonize over a perfect wedding playlist to send the DJ, not realizing that at least four different people will request Baby Got Back and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
A year later we’re newlyweds and first-time homeowners. You’re working on growing a man bun, which will only survive a week of teasing from your brothers before you chicken out and chop it off. We’ve decided we want kids soon-ish, so I’m trying to eat my vegetables. When the weather is bad, we snuggle on our couch with our veritable menagerie of cats and play video games. When the weather is good, we do the same thing but with the windows open. I’ve decided blue lipstick looks really good on me. Life is quiet but happy.
The next March we’re two months from having our first child. I can’t tie my shoes so I wear Crocs in public now. It’s a new look for me. You’re already the best dad ever and she hasn’t even been born yet. You draw me lukewarm baths and let me relax in them for no longer than 10 minutes, you fly into a mild panic if I tell you I had sushi for lunch with my parents (it was cooked, I swear!), and you always make sure I’m comfortable. You still take me on dates and insist I’m beautiful even though the entire Von Trapp family could hide behind my belly and Rolf wouldn’t be able to find them.
And now it’s March 2020. Things are a little bit harder with a baby, but a whole lot better.
Life is hectic in the best way and it’s easy to forget about each other when we’re chasing after our increasingly mobile, extremely sassy daughter. We have had to become aggressive about spending time together, and we refuse to miss a date night.
A few weeks ago, we went out of town for a day trip while baby girl had some grandma and great-auntie time. We went thrifting, had lunch, parked by the lake and walked two steps on the thick ice before turning around and getting right back in the car. Drove around daydreaming about the 500 businesses we’d like to own and how to make them all happen in one building to save on rent. Talked about the future we want for ourselves. Talked about a new hairstyle, talked about weird meals we’ve eaten, talked about everything. Talked and talked and talked.
We re-learned each other. Remembered what it was like when we were young and unburdened. When we were looking out at the big question mark of our future with rose colored glasses instead of living the reality of being a young family in the trenches of new-parenthood.
Life is good now, better than it has ever been before, but instead of flying by the seat of our pants, we have to be deliberate about how we spend our time together. We can’t have spur of the moment “late night date nights” at the burger place down the street anymore, we have to plan for babysitters or pack a diaper bag and spend our meal picking french fries off the floor. We can’t decide to drive to Chicago for beer at a moment’s notice. I mean, we can, but the drive will take twice as long from all the stopping. So we have to be diligent about nurturing our marriage.
We have to choose love, every day.
When you’re covered in sticky fingerprints and smell like cheese, when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in almost ten months, when you’re constantly getting climbed on, scratched, and bitten, you have to make the conscious decision to pour what little is left in your cup into your relationship.
You have to choose each other.
And I will choose you.