When I was a teenager listening to Crowded House on my walkman, I would close my eyes and create a music video of my wedding day. There was a white dress and gorgeous bridesmaids and a four tiered cake. There was a church overflowing with people, big hair, my father beaming with pride and lots of speeches about me. Of course, nowhere in my hazy teenage fantasy was a husband. My dream of marriage was all about the wedding. How foolish of me to not dream of the best part.
Just a few months ago, your father, his friend Mike, and your Uncle Georg moved our entire home into the back of a Penske truck. In 97 degree heat. With no AC. And it took 10 hours. While the boys ran up and down the stairs with loads of our life in their arms, I lay down next to you on the floor of our tiny bathroom and soothed your nervous cries.
"It's going to be all right," I told you.
Daddy worked hard, sweating until salt stained his shirt, occasionally knocking on the door to check on us and ask how I would like something packed.
“Hey honey, we taking that green vase?”
“Hell yes we are taking that green vase. I moved it down her from New York. It’s the only vase we have that can hold sunflowers.”
“We have about twenty-six vases already packed, but whatever.”
“Double wrap it in newspaper and then bubble wrap it and put it in one of those long boxes. Seal it on top with the clear tape. You listening to me, it has to be the clear tape. Then I want you to label it with one of the labels I printed last night that says glass, fragile. Make sure the label is on the top of the box, that’s very important. And be careful, it’s glass. Mark it glass, okay?”
I'm a bit of a micro manager. Okay, I'm a complete freak if things aren't done exactly the way I think that they should be done. Somehow your Daddy still loves me despite this. In fact, despite the many arguments about how many pieces of newspaper are adequate to properly pack a coffee cup, despite my tendency to start every other sentence with “can I make a suggestion?”, despite my exhaustive reminders that we only use the bubble wrap on colored glass items, your Daddy listened and didn't throw up his hand and walk out on us.
I know he listened, because somewhere around hour five of moving day, I heard a glass break and found my husband standing over the remains of one of my candle hurricanes.
I expected an eye roll and a "Great, one less thing to pack”. But instead, I got “Baby, I'm so sorry. Seriously. So sorry honey.”
He looked up at me, eyes tired from no sleep and a late night packing, legs dripping sweat because I sold the AC unit one day too early. My heart swelled with love. Oh sweet man, how could I be mad at you for anything right now. You are packing and moving my things.
And that is when it hit me. I've moved ten times in the last ten years, and always it was my responsibility to get it all done. These were my things and my sleepless nights. But these aren't my things anymore. And I never have to move alone again. I am no longer alone.
Don’t get me wrong sweet Story, your mother is no stranger to loneliness. I was pleasantly alone for 36 years of my life and happy for most. Both your father and I still love a languid lonely afternoon. But being with your Daddy has made me feel full in a way that I never imagined. I love knowing I am always part of a team, even when I’m by myself at the coffee shop or driving you to swim lessons or sitting in a meeting. I love the sweet comfort of mutual respect. I love the way your Daddy brings his creative touch to even the smallest of gestures. He takes such care with his quirky fun greeting cards. I love having someone to hold the camera while I pose for a photo to commemorate one of our wild adventures. I love that someone else has the same memories that I do. I love having a reason to make fancy dinners, and that he always does the dishes. I love Daddy’s bursts of energy that end with us in a car, on a road, to somewhere exciting, with not a care in the world. I love that your Daddy understands me. When I ask him to buy Crest sensitive toothpaste and they don’t have it in stock, he doesn’t just buy the regular stuff. I love that even when I am bitter or jealous or lazy and controlling, he doesn’t walk away. Your daddy is a man of great character, unwavering in his honesty, unafraid to grow from seeing his bad parts, unabashed in his love for his family. Marrying your Daddy made me feel like I won the lottery.
A year ago today, I was married in the Rose Garden behind Independence Hall, under the shade of a spruce tree. My husband wore a navy blue suit, accented with an orange dahlia in his lapel. I wore a strapless beige gown I got for half price at Neiman Marcus Last Call. The dress wasn’t white, we had cupcakes instead of a cake, and we opted for a park instead of a church. I was five months pregnant with you and it rained most the night. My bridesmaids were beautiful, so many special friends and family members blessed us with their presence, my sisters danced with my brothers, my mother and father both made sweet speeches, and there were lots of special details. My husband held me in his arms as we danced to our song, gently touching my elbows while he whispered the words in my ear. It was perfectly ‘us’. But my favorite part of the wedding was the man at the end of the aisle and the marriage born in that moment.