It was early 1997 and my parents moved. That's not what is supposed to happen, right? The kids are supposed to grow up and move away and the parents are supposed to stay in the exact same spot for the rest of their lives and everyone comes and visits and grandma bakes cookies and all that noise. I was sure of it, because that's what I had always seen on television.
My parents moved though, to this little town in North Carolina.
Which was, to be honest, really pretty when I visited. Different. The sky was so big and so blue (and, as my dad helpfully pointed out, really no bigger than the sky anywhere else, just not blocked by the mountains). Lord knows I could barely understand a word anyone said, but to be fair I'm sure "East Tennessee" isn't the easiest to understand either. It didn't matter, North Carolina was not my home.
Until it was, through a series of really painful experiences that I currently have not the strength to rehash. Things had to change, for a lot of reasons, and part of that change was North Carolina.
Where, through a series of painful and sometimes hilarious experiences, I met Jason.
Who I definitely was never going to marry.
Until I did. That was fifteen years ago, today.
*Not a picture from the actual proposal, but so darn cute I had to share.
A lot of things have happened in the last fifteen years. Some really, really good and some really, really bad. That's life, of course. No one expects anything different.
What I didn't expect, I guess, is that I would love this man as much as I do.
That sounds weird, I guess, but honestly the day I married him I was so in love with him I could not imagine spending one second of my life without him. Now, fifteen years later I can fully acknowledge there have been moments during which I thought, "UGH. GET AWAY", and at the same time, I cannot imagine spending one second of my life without him EVEN HARDER. EXTRA. WITH CHEESE.
*14th anniversary. I promise Jason was not as alarmed as he looks.I can't even explain it. Well, I could try to explain it, but I think I would probably fail.
*13th anniversary after a really sweaty hike to a waterfall. Why on EARTH did we not get married in November? Holy crap.
Love is weird, I guess. In good ways and bad ways. I've always steadfastly maintained that he is not my best friend, because best friend seems to denote someone you can be fully comfortable with. I am comfortable with him (very), but I always want to try for him. I want to look nice for him. I want to make effort for him. I never leave the bathroom door open when I pee. That might just be a personal thing though.
*12 anniversary at the waterfront in New Bern. After that we went to Pepsi museum and no I'm not kidding.
At twenty-seven, I didn't really see the future. I mean, I did in some ways. I had a job and a house and whatnot, but I didn't think about aging and our health and our careers and the places life would take us. I swear I never thought about what it really means to have two kids in college at the same time, what would happen if one of us got sick. I still cannot think about what would happen if one of us died, what would be left behind. I can't.
Not today anyway.
Today I will think about how I loved this man so much, I let him be my family.
And how somehow a boy who grew up in Connecticut and a girl who grew up in East Tennessee just happened to be in North Carolina at the same time. Just happened to meet each other. Just happened to fall in love and just happened to decide, yeah. This is it. This is what love is supposed to feel like. This is what family is supposed to feel like. I really mean this. This man is the truth.
I don't know if we'll ever move away from North Carolina. Maybe away from this town, maybe to the cooler, more mountainous side of the state, but there is a certain something that draws us back here. Something, perhaps that drew us here in the first place. Fate? God? I don't know.
All I know is I love. this. man.
Now, forever, no matter where we live, no matter where we move, no matter what illness happens, no matter how much medication costs, no matter what our job situation is, no matter what.
It's him. It's me. It's us. It's not perfect, but it's exactly what it's supposed to be.