We’ve been sitting on a Buca di Beppo gift certificate for a little over six years, since our oldest daughter Amethyst was in the thick of her babyhood and crawling around. It’s not going to spend its self, so my in-laws are watching the kids, and we’re going out to dinner. I put on my “check these bad boys out!” bra, a dress that hangs perfectly and hides any post baby and post hysterectomy imperfections, and the amethyst necklace Brian gave me for our second wedding anniversary.
It’s horrifically hot outside, and I slip off my heels and place my feet on the dash board so the air conditioner can blow up my skirt. Is this something a 34 year old mother of three should be doing? Who really cares, because Brian’s grinning laviciously, and squeeze my thigh gently. That smile, plus the squeeze, still makes my stomach feel like it’s full of butterflies and my heart starts speeding up, just like it did ten years ago when we went from best friends to “Us”.
We arrive at the restaurant, and Brian takes my hand in his as we walk in, a gesture that for us is no different than breathing. So many times have our hands come together, in so many ways, but all have been to comfort or to love, never in anger. We’re greeted by the hostess and taken to our table, and we order drinks and appetizers. When the drinks arrive, we toast, “To us!” Those two words sum up ten years of living and loving and fighting together for what we’ve been building.
We’ve been placed at a corner table, and somehow, none of the tables around us have had customers seated at them. Even when we fall silent and are only just sitting there, drinking our drinks or eating, it is still a warm, safe place to be in. We might be in a restaurant, but we’re still home.
There was never a feeling of “love at first sight” for us. Instead, we first became friends, and a year later, when we both went through very rough break ups, we became best friends. We’re not sure when it went from friends to something more, but I can remember that one day, his blue eyes began taking my breath away, and just giving him a hug hello or good bye would make my knees weak.
We’ve shifted through so many different roles in our relationship: Friends, lovers, husband and wife, co-parents. Through it all, we’ve had one thing that has remained the same: A huge amount of respect and uncondtional love. No matter how rough life gets, the medical issues, the money issues, the lack of sleep issues, we’d rather be holding on to one another than alone and not dealing with the shit that’s hitting the fan.
Let’s face it: Marriage is WORK. Like any job, there are days where you just want to cover your ears, scream at the top of your lungs, and quit. But if you’re lucky, those days are few and far between. If you truly are lucky, then even though the work is hard, you still love doing it.
There’s no tally sheet within our marriage. Sometimes I give more than Brian, and other times, he’s the one who’s taking it for the team. Because that’s what we are: a team. We’ve got one goal, and that’s to be together and in love fifty years from now.
On the day we married, we decided to forgo traditional wedding vows. I mean, come on, we were getting married in Las Vegas, our wedding cost less than $600, and I was wearing an evening gown I found on Ebay; there is no room for boring, traditional vows that millions of other couples have spoken. In the vows we wrote for ourselves, the ones that stand out the most are: “I vow every day to earn your love”.