Thursday, June 18, 2015

Because it's our ninth anniversary

Yesterday I took the kids to Starbucks to pick out an end-of-the-year thank you gift for Asher’s preschool teacher.  The trip was a raving success, considering I left with a free iced latte and a free sparkly coffee tumbler, in addition to the gift I actually came in to buy.  Catching the spirit of generosity, I drove to Jordan’s work to give him the free latte.  When I told him how nice the (male) manager had been, he commented that the guy had probably been hitting on me.  I laughed out loud, remembering how the kids had been pulling thermoses off the shelves, jumping off of the comfy chairs, and turning everyone’s “third place” into a playground.  More than likely the manager had just felt sorry for me and wanted me out of there.  I looked into the backseat of the van at the three jelly-smeared faces and responded,  “Um, I don’t think so. Who would want all this?”  Without missing a beat, Jordan leaned in and kissed Nora’s forehead and said simply, “Me.” 

We’ve been married nine years today, but I think I fell in love with Jordan a little bit in the seventh grade. I was driving in the car with my parents and saw him out the window, walking home from school. I didn’t know anything about him, except his name, that he was a freshman in high school, and who his parents were (they worked with mine).  But I never forgot his face or his name, and when I started working with him at a frozen yogurt shop four years later, my future was pretty much sealed. 

I was wondering today what would have happened if I could have seen into the actual future that day in seventh grade, or that first day of working with Jordan when I was 16.  What if I’d seen a glimpse of Jordan’s today-self: 31 years old and filled out, with just a touch of gray in his sideburns, and the smile lines (from so, so many smiles) at the corners of his eyes.  And of course, with three crazy kids at his side.  Would I still have fallen in love with him, with the future laid out in front of me?  I don’t know, maybe.  Or maybe I would have been a little creeped out.  I wasn’t supposed to fall for 31-year-old Jordan at age 12 (gross), or 16 (still weird), or even age 20, when I finally married him.  I fell in love with who he was then, at each different stage of life.

You know how people have their friends hide somewhere so they can have cute engagement photos?  Yeah, I guess we didn't do that.  This is our self-taken engagement photo. Yes, this is exactly how I looked when I was proposed to. Every girl's dream. 
Falling in love isn’t a one-time thing.  It’s an every day, every year decision, choosing to love this living, ever-changing person you said you would love however many years ago.  Getting married really is the biggest step of faith, because you are saying you will love your spouse forever, when it’s a possibility that the person you’re pledging yourself to may not look like the same person at all in a few years, or decades. When you say your vows, you’re really saying, “I love you now, and I will choose to love you next year, and the next, and the next, no matter who you turn into. No matter how you change, for better or for worse.”   Some of us win the lottery with the way our spouses change, and for others, marriage ends up their greatest crucible.

For whatever undeserved reason, I’ve been hugely blessed.  When I got married, I loved Jordan’s innocent, boy-man 22-year-old self.  Today, I love his wiser but still child-like 31-year-old self.  I love that he brings fun into every room he enters.  I love that he can work all day at an emotionally taxing job and still come home with joy.  I love that he always tells me I look pretty (he has improved at this over the years).  He’s even taught our sons to do this (maybe a little too well; a few weeks ago the mom of a little girl in Asher’s preschool class informed me that Asher had sweetly told her daughter that she looked so pretty that day. “What four year old says that?” she laughed). I love who Jordan is as a Daddy.  I love all of him. 

I will romanticize unapologetically today, because it’s my ninth anniversary and I am proud of us.  I’m proud of all of you who are working hard (some, perhaps, harder than others) to stay married.  Marriage might be the greatest risk one can take, but it often has the greatest rewards.  It’s certainly given me the very sweetest of rewards (and I’m not just talking about my kids…but they’re pretty great, too).    

Jordan, I love you!  Happy Anniversary to the best decision (short of Jesus, DUH) that I ever made.    
This was taken on my birthday, just hours before Jordan proposed.  This restaurant always sang to you and made you wear a fish hat on your birthday: ultimate humiliation for me.  Jordan wore the hat while they sang so I didn't have to.  Now that, friends, is love.