Happy anniversary, darling! I know I’m a few days late. I’m sorry. This is rather representative of our entire relationship, though, that it somehow just doesn’t work out the way we thought it would, timing-wise. This is not to say that it doesn’t work out, just that planning has become something of a farce ’round here.
Nevertheless, we’ve made it an entire year. It’s official and everything—even our alumni magazine announced the news in its latest issue, so I guess you’re stuck with me now. Nineteen years behind us, one of them married, and do you know what? I still think it was the very smartest thing you ever did. (It was also the smartest thing that I ever did, but I have done so very many stupid things it really wasn’t much of a contest.)
When Chickadee had her first birthday, my closest friend at the time—a more seasoned mother than I—came to the house with a wrapped present for her and a potted violet, for me. “Congratulations!” she said, with a big grin. “You’ve kept a human being alive for an ENTIRE YEAR! You’re now ready to take care of a plant.” Legends of my black thumb preceded me, and while it seemed ridiculous to compare a violet to a baby, it had a certain poetic rightness to it.
(Chickadee is still very much alive, but I killed the violet shortly before I got divorced. Let’s not read too much into that, even if it is completely prophetic.)
I have spent this year continually humbled at how you, who’ve never done this before—and by THIS I mean not only marriage, but cohabitation, parenthood, and enduring my propensity to leave a heap of laundry in the bathroom—have managed to show me the way, time and time again. I’m supposed to know how this works, and of course if I actually KNEW I might still be married to someone else, so perhaps the reality is that starting with a clean slate is almost easier. I am still unlearning bad habits. I am still nursing old wounds. And you have just loved me, loved US, without prodding, without fanfare, with infinite patience and a quiet tenderness.
Congratulations, Otto. You’ve kept our marriage alive for an entire year. You are now ready to get everything you deserve in this life, and I hope that I can help make that happen.
You make me believe in happy endings. Not the insipid, instantaneous kind, but the hard-won, fought-for kind. The kind worth having.
This year has not been without challenges. This last month, in particular, has been so difficult for me, and even more difficult because it’s not your fault and I have grieved my inability to be the wife I want to be, during this time, in the midst of everything else. You deserve more. We deserve more. I need to learn how to weather these storms without fearing that I will drown, again. I need to learn how to be okay with holding on to you for support without pulling you down with me.
And so I’ve already given you one anniversary present—we’ll go have professional massages as soon as we can get it scheduled—but I actually have another one for you, too. Guess what! I’m going back to therapy, because I can’t settle for being kind of okay, anymore. I’m tired of letting this other stuff get in our way. You deserve better. We deserve better. You taught me that I deserve better.
I told you years ago that I wasn’t looking for a savior but a partner. You have exceeded my expectations; this next year I hope I can exceed yours. Because I need to thank you: thank you for being patient; thank you for loving me; thank you for loving them; thank you for never doing anything partway.
Also, thank you for the chocolate.
Me too, baby. Me too.
(Happy Love Thursday, everyone.)