letter four years in the making

Four years is a long time to be committed to something, particularly when that thing is actually a person. M and I have been together for four years yesterday and I'm just as surprised as anyone else that she puts up with me and has done so for so long. We celebrated by working out, doing laundry and eating Quizno's salads. We lead such an exciting life. The following letter attempts to celebrate the everyday moments between us as well as the big and important ones.

Dear Michelle,
I knew when I met you that you were unique. I was drawn to you in ways I still can't explain. You're one of those people who makes an impact on others just by being yourself. And you have this easy way about you; you're comfortable with who you are and the decisions you've made. It was one of the things I noticed first: there's no pretense with you. You're refreshing, like the Spring night air after a thunderstorm. I don't always understand you but I love that about you, the way things just are... no conflict, no tortured overthinking. You are a constant surprise in many ways and yet I know I can always depend on you.

There are times when you're feeling low or particularly insecure or you just want reminding of all the reasons I love you. Sometimes I find it difficult to put into words the depth and intensity of how I feel about you, not to mention the elements which I may not be aware of yet. There's this invisible thread that runs between us, making sense of our togetherness when I cannot find language to do so myself. You are complex and thoughtful and explaining my feelings for you are never simple. However, for this occasion, I will do my best to tell you how and why I love you.

You have these looks, as if your heart is leaping through your eyes straight into mine. You make me want to tell you all the secrets of my life, even the ones I don't know yet, when these looks cross your face. It isn't something you do on purpose nor something you're really aware of. And I think that's why they affect me so much.

I love your heart, the largeness of it, the way you believe in second and third and sometimes fourth chances. I love that you think the world is mostly good and that change is possible and worthwhile. You care about people, people you don't know, that you've never met but you care because they exist on this earth and as part of humanity, you see it as your responsibility to care. The depth of your generosity astounds me daily. I love that you meet no strangers and genuinely love to share yourself with others.

You are always, for better or worse, yourself. There are no facades, no barriers to you. You give yourself openly and freely. You don't take yourself too seriously and take pleasure in the everyday moments life presents to you. You don't think too much about one thing or another, rather you accept the beauty in a rainbow or clear night when you can see the stars. This is not to say that you do not think deeply. You are incredibly perceptive and smart. I love our conversations, how they range from silly to intellectual. I love that you will argue with me, that you call me on my bullshit and let me know when you disagree with me. I love when you pout and how stubborn you can be when you know you're right. (which is a lot.)

You're a great storyteller. I can listen to your stories over and over again, hearing your voice rise and fall with each detail. I like to watch people respond to you, watch your eyes light up when you come to a particularly funny or important part of the story. When we're in a large group or at a party or conference and we're talking to different people and mingling, there's nothing I like better than to look over at you and see you engaged in conversation, smiling or laughing, enjoying yourself. I watch you with pride, with devotion and I know that when I'm not looking you glance over at me and feel the same way.

I like that you can be in the same room with me and not feel as though you have to fill the silence. Sometimes, sharing physical space with you is enough. I love the way you sleep, how you tuck yourself into the covers like a cocoon. I like that you look peaceful and sweet as you drift off to dreams. I like that you need me beside you to truly feel like you can rest. I like how your body fits next to me at strange angles, how warm and soft you are. I like that you want me to tell you stories or sing or read to you, that you want my voice in your ear to be the last thing you hear before sleep. I do not feel worthy of this need and it scares me some nights when I look at you, when I touch your face and tell you "L is for the way you look at me." I do not know what you see when you look at me, but I know that it is more than I am. I aspire to be the version of the girl you see, the girl you love so completely.

After four years with you, I am still figuring out how to love you. The intensity of my emotions overwhelms me not because I need you, (I do) and not because I desire you (I do) but because being with you makes me happy. It makes me better. I want to see the world through your eyes for as long as you'll let me. I want to learn from your affection and your kindness until you no longer have the capacity to teach me.

I love you for all your quirks, the way you prefer rolling down the windows on a warm day to air conditioning, the way you think people who have pictures of themselves are vain, the way you eat corn on the cob, the way you hate fake strawberry flavoring but love blue even though it's not really a flavor. I love the way you make up words to songs on the radio and try to pretend that's how the song really goes. I love that Toy Story is your favorite movie and how most of the movies you own are animated. I love that you are a child of the 80's and that your favorite music comes from the decadent, lavish, flashy era that gave us both Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. I love that you are unashamed of your adoration of Wilson Phillips. I love our differences and how we drive each other crazy.

I love that my favorite moments include you, that many of my stories are really 'our' stories. I will always think of our early relationship when I hear "I'm saving all the love that I'm supposed to give to Jesus, so that I can give it all to you." I will think of taking you to work, of road trips to conferences, of laundry nights and arguments on hot summer nights when you lived on Robinhood Lane when I was stuck between loving you and hating myself. I love our history, despite its rocky beginnings and my inability to accept that you were exactly what you seemed. I love it because it is ours. I love the memories of squishing you against the wall in my twin bed, the way my heart beat so fast as we stood in the kitchen and I wanted to kiss you so badly. And when I told you, you said "I know." I think I fell in love with you at that moment because you seemed brave and unafraid of your feelings. I was terrified of you, of how I felt and how I could feel about you. I remember feeling that everything was new. I shivered in the snow and watched flakes fall on your lashes and thought if I could stay in that moment, I would be happy forever. Lucky for me, you were willing to give me another chance...perhaps because after I ran away from you, I came back. Maybe because you could sense something true about me, something in my heart. Or maybe you saw my second chance as an opportunity for you, too. Whatever the reason, you gave me a reason to believe in second chances too. And there hasn't been a day since then that I haven't learned something new about you, about myself, about relationships, about love. There hasn't been a day that I haven't loved you.

I love you because of who you are, all of you. I love how you love the little things and that you don't believe in making promises you can't keep. So, I won't promise you forever. But I will promise that as long as I love you, my love will be unwavering. I promise that I will be your support. I will work to make your dreams possible. I will dream with you, beside you and for you. I can't promise not to take you for granted and I can't promise to be unselfish. I can't say that I won't make you crazy when I leave on lights or the cabinet doors open or that I won't forget something important that you tell me. I can promise that I will try, that I understand when you get upset or when I've hurt your feelings. And I can promise that it breaks my heart when are you sad or when I've done something that makes it seem as if you are not important because you are. You're my person, for as long as our love lasts. And I will continue to figure out how to love you, for as long as it takes.

Happy Anniversary.