Posts in love
Eleven Years Together

I don't know if most people still celebrate their dating anniversary once they are married, but any time I can find an occasion to celebrate the person I love, I take it. Here's my Four Years Post, Five Years Seven Years Video, and last year, as we celebrated ten years of loving one another, I wrote this, and I still mean all of it today and more.

Michelle, 

I don't know that I can say anything better, or differently than I've already expressed. When I say that loving you is the easiest promise I keep, it isn't because love is easy, or because it is simple, but rather that with you in my life, with you at my side and in my heart, anything is possible. Loving you is easy because you are my compass, my anchor, the other half of me, my better, kinder half. The love I feel for you is just there, perched on my heart, whispering in my ear. I love you because of all the quirks and qualities that make up who you are. I love the way your eyes light up when you're about to smile. I love the way you see the world, how you make sense of it as I complicate it. 

I love the muscles in your back, how you shoulder the burdens of us, of others. I love that you love so deeply and fiercely. I love how you sleep, the sounds of your breaths, the curl of your body. 

*I can only begin to count (but never complete) all the ways I love you, the happiness I feel when we're driving in the car and your hand slips into mine, or how you make me laugh so hard that I can barely breathe. I love that you sing the absolute wrong words to songs and that you do not care. I love how little you know, or care to know about pop culture. I love that you can pack for a weekend in under 5 minutes while I obsess for at least 20 minutes, wondering if I have the right kind of shoes. I am glad we have geeky things in common, but I also appreciate all the ways you are different from me and all the ways you make me a kinder, more considerate person. 

In the years we have spent together we have shared heartache, loss, grief, distance, but we have also shared adventure, amazing food, great conversations, success, and lots of laughter. I remind you that life is messy and chaotic, and you show me that it's also beautiful and kind. I love the way that both big and small moments with you feel important. What I love most in the undercurrent of our lives is the shared language, sideways glances, the way you fit into my arms. No matter what is going on, the frustrations of my day, or how tired I feel, I know you are there. Even when you are not with me, you are in texts or chats, phone calls or just a feeling I get that you are in the world, doing whatever you are doing and also loving me. To be loved by you is a magnificent joy.

You are my great love. Every day I'm impressed by your toughness, your strength, your passion. You do not do things half-way but with your whole, full heart. You are my best everything, my favorite confidante, my best friend, my secret keeper, my source of comfort, and of understanding.

You are home.

All of me loves all of you. Every 2 seconds.

*from last year's letter

#reverb14: a love story in transition

Though I didn't get to this in August, I still wanted to respond to the August #reverb14 prompt. Transition | Transition of seasons; from single to couple; from couple to parents; from one to many.  It’s that time of year when the high summer sun starts to sink, and we all start to long for long sleeves.  How is your life changing.  How are YOU changing?

Wow, is this prompt ever timely. I'm two weeks teaching into the Fall semester and I can tell you that though it is still quite warm outside, Summer is definitely over. I wouldn't necessarily say Fall is here but the days of choosing what I work on and what I don't are pretty much over. I realize the benefits of the academic job, believe me. The amount of work that goes into semester planning and working on publications and all the very challenging aspects of what I do definitely feel worth it when the semester break arrives, summer especially. So while I recognize how different my life may be from those who work a 9-5 kind of job, believe me I'm sometimes jealous of the "leave the work at work" that I imagine is part of others' jobs (even if that idea is inaccurate).

Transitioning from no real schedule to a very hectic schedule is a tough transition for many reasons. I have to get my mind and body into a new routine. I have to figure out Office Hours, and when I'm going to work out. (I have to get out of this lazy slump). I have to adjust to students filling my inbox and phone with questions. But the hardest part is readjusting to being away from M. In the past, I've stayed just busy enough traveling and working on projects and workshops that I haven't spent huge chunks of time establishing a routine for us. But this year, M asked specifically if I would not make any plans in July so that we could spend some real time together. And we fell into an easy rhythm that happens when you've spent ten years of life with someone. After about 6 weeks together, I had to come back to Oxford for meetings before the semester and once again I am here and she is in Illinois.

I don't write much about the challenges of our long-distance relationship. Mostly because I think that we are making it work, and also because we are lucky in so many ways. Our distance is easily drivable. Neither of us are in constant danger, the way those stationed overseas or in other military careers often are. We are both committed to our relationship and we're able to make the most of the time we do spend together. In-between, we text and chat and Facetime. Still, it is a transition after each semester break to slide into our daily lives and routines without one another's physical presence, something I quickly get used to it and then it's gone again.

We're always growing and learning ways to stay connected, to be present in small ways. And I think we continue that work when we are together in the same place. I've said that loving M is the easiest thing I've ever done. It just happened. To quote the YA book The Fault in Our Stars, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." My entire world opened up because of her influence and I'm not going to let something like a few hundred miles ruin us. This long distance thing won't be the last transition we experience together, but I know, the way you know something is true because it reverberates in you and you're afraid to say it because you want to keep it sacred, that one day it will simply be part of our love story. I can't wait.

 

Ten Years Together

To the love of my life on our 10 year anniversary, 

Because you don't like that flowers are expensive and die so quickly and the thought of spending money on frivolous things like chocolate fruit makes you roll your eyes, and because we can't be together on our anniversary, I am using the gift of language to tell you that I cannot imagine myself without you. The timeline of events in my life is divided into before and after you. 

Ten years ago, I fell in love. I never dreamed I could have this kind of life, this kind of love. When I met you, I was unprepared for my depth of feeling, the way I liked you instantly, how you slipped through the walls I'd placed around myself so as not to get hurt. I never imagined I had the capacity to love someone so unselfishly. If I'm completely honest, I never expected I would feel loved like this. After ten years together, I am more in love with you, with our life than ever. I can only begin to count (but never complete) all the ways I love you, the happiness I feel when we're driving in the car and your hand slips into mine, or how you make me laugh so hard that I can barely breathe. I love that you sing the absolute wrong words to songs and that you do not care. I love how little you know, or care to know about pop culture. I love that you can pack for a weekend in under 5 minutes while I obsess for at least 20 minutes, wondering if I have the right kind of shoes. I am glad we have geeky things in common, but I also appreciate all the ways you are different from me and all the ways you make me a kinder, more considerate person. 

I love that you are a reader, that you are not afraid to speak your mind, to stand up for your beliefs. I love all your stories, and the way you tell them. I adore the way you say, "bullshit." You are fiercely and deeply loyal. You make me feel like I can accomplish all the things I want to do, even when I don't believe it, and you support those dreams even when it means making sacrifices. You are the gravity and meaning for all that I do. You make each day more vibrant and full.

You remain a mystery to me, even after all this time. I'm always curious what you're thinking. I am so expressive, and can feel numerous emotions in small spans of time and you are so even keeled that you can be hard to decipher. My neuroses and your laid-back nature are often at odds, and it makes you crazy how wound up I can get about minute and unimportant details. You are often my voice of reason. You are my compass, my North star. 

In the ten years we have spent together we have shared heartache, loss, grief, distance, but we have also shared adventure, amazing food, great conversations, success, and lots of laughter. I remind you that life is messy and chaotic, and you show me that it's also beautiful and kind. I love the way that both big and small moments with you feel important. What I love most in the undercurrent of our lives is the shared language, sideways glances, the way you fit into my arms. No matter what is going on, the frustrations of my day, or how tired I feel, I know you are there. Even when you are not with me, you are in texts or chats, phone calls or just a feeling I get that you are in the world, doing whatever you are doing and also loving me. To be loved by you is incredible.

You are my best everything, my favorite confidante, my best friend, my secret keeper, my source of comfort, and of understanding.

You are home.

All of me loves all of you.

And loving you is the easiest promise I will ever keep. Happy 10th Anniversary.  

#reverb14: my heart is a cup

Heart. Show us your heart.  Let it all hang out. When have you thrown yourself into a challenge or shown/received love?

It is no secret that I do not let people close to me. It is a habit that in the last 5 years or so, I have tried to break. As an extrovert, it might seem strange that I keep people at an arm's length because I do enjoy being around people, hearing their stories and also sharing mine, but in the past, I was careful about the circle of people I let into my heart. It did not prevent me from getting hurt, though I thought that keeping people at bay was ensuring my heart's safety. It wasn't. Instead it meant when I hurt, I hurt deeply. 

Until I met M, my heart was shielded in an icy, "i could give a f*ck" demeanor, and a cavalier confidence meant to hide my insecurity. I soon learned that I cared deeply, often too deeply about people I loved with no mechanism for sorting out what happened when they broke my heart. Because they did. 

We always do. Because we don't think before words tumble out of our mouths, because we believe we are right and if we do something for the right reasons, things work out. Except the world doesn't really work that way and we're all a big, mess of human emotions and experiences. We can't live in one another's headspaces (thank goodness) and so we can never be sure our intentions and our actions are met the way we hope. 

What I was truly afraid of was losing people, having those I cared about drop out of my life or grow angry with me. I was a captive to that fear, which meant that I would do anything for the people with whom I spent my time, and because that number was small, the pressures I felt to deliver on my promises with them was immense and in many ways, terribly unhealthy. 

Falling in love with M was devastating to my heart because everything I thought I knew was called into question; it was also freeing. She somehow found her way through my defenses. I was intrigued by her instantly. Never had I heard anyone talk the way she did. So upfront about herself, so willing to be silly and foolish. I said, "I love you" much too quickly, probably and having someone know how you feel when you're still figuring out what it means is terrifying, particularly if you are not always so forthcoming. I found that I had to rebuild what I thought I knew about love, about soulmates and connections, vulnerability and strength.

There is a look she gets, one I cannot explain but it makes my heart beat double time. It is the look that first made me want to tell her all the secrets I ever knew, ones I didn't not even know were secret. There is no comfort like her hands in mine or her voice in my ear. 

I recently joked about being a project to her, but in our ten years together, we have really been the project, our relationship, our friendship, our connection. Loving her is easy, it's everything else that is hard, that is the work of our hearts and our minds and our voices. 

There's much I could say about how my heart has changed over the past ten years, how it has broken and expanded and felt more deeply than I thought possible. I have always been particularly sensitive and emotional, I just spent a long time fighting and covering, barricading it or saving it for my writing. My relationship with M gives me the confidence to let go, to be seen, to be open-hearted. Her influence has led me to deepening my other relationships with friends and family. 

I try every day to be expressive from my heart, to show gratitude for what is around me. I love this print of a Ray Bradbury quote from Western New York Book Arts Center. If I could say anything about my heart, about myself is that I strive for it to run over and let something beautiful and true out for others to see.