Today is our ninth Valentine’s Day together. Can you believe that? Nine years! It’s flown by faster than I could have imagined it would. Nine years ago I couldn’t have imagined our life today. I wouldn’t have pictured myself as a wedding photographer…much less with my husband as my part time employee! I couldn’t have dreamed up the incredible trips we’ve taken, the adventures we’ve had. I don’t think I would have known it would take me a lot longer to get pregnant or that so much distance and drama would materialize in my own family. Nine years has been a long time, but also a short one. We’ve both grown into people who I both do and do not recognize. Like me, hitting the gym 6 days a week…what is that even?
The other day I was avoiding some kind of chore around the house and thinking back on past Valentine’s Days. My mind wandered back to our first. We’d been living together for about a week and a half at that point and I was so sure that my boyfriend (haven’t used that word to refer to John in some time…ha!!!) wasn’t going to make plans and that I was going to be pissed. Being proactive as always, I told him in no uncertain words that I not only wanted him to make plans for us, but I wanted him to make sure we did NOT go to Plaza, OR somewhere else we always went. The pressure was on for him to make it a great, memorable first Valentine’s Day! I think it’s so funny looking back at that memory for two reasons:
- I realized that John as a husband way outshines John as a boyfriend. John is dedicated to me in a way that I’ve struggled to feel that I deserve. If you’ve seen This is Us, you’ve probably cried over how sweet Jack is to Rebecca, who in my opinion is kind of a jerk sometimes. I have legit bawled over them because I see in that character my sweet, generous husband, who goes out of his way to show love to me, who does not always deserve it. John the boyfriend took me to Carrabba’s that Valentine’s Day (which is hilarious…apparently I thought that Carrabba’s was really fancy when I was 20, obviously further evidence that things change over time!!). John the husband moved across town last year from a home that he loved to an old home neither one of us really loved all that much because I wanted a new chapter even if I wasn’t going to have a baby. It’s not that John wasn’t a good boyfriend…I think it’s just that he has grown and matured into someone who loves very deeply and has gotten a lot better at showing it. Which leads me to my second realization:
- My second realization was “WOW, we have really grown up a lot since that first Valentine’s Day!”. Sometimes when I tell people that I’ve been with John for almost ten years they give me an odd look. I’m still (only) 29, so I guess the idea that I could have spent nearly a decade loving one person is strange to a lot of people. But I think it’s worked out because the core of our relationship is really our friendship. We were friends before anything else, and even when our marriage has gone through some of the less fun parts of a marriage, I still enjoy being around him no matter what because we are best friends. We have both changed SO much in the past nine (almost ten!) years of being together and I am just so grateful that we grew together and not apart.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom looking at me and telling me “You really have no idea what love really is just yet”. I was probably ten or eleven at the time and I swore that I did. How could I not? Love seems like one of the easiest, most natural things in the world. “But, I do know because I love you!” I said to her. Little did I know how much truth there really was in her words! Love is the best, but it’s just not up to par without lots of hard work. At least, that’s how I see it now, at 29. Who knows what my take will be ten, twenty, or even thirty more years from now?
Lots of people think that Valentine’s Day is cheesy, or that it’s an excuse to go out to eat (I’ve been guilty of both the former the latter), but I think what it really is, is a good day to reflect on the love you have in your life and to be intentionally grateful for it. It’s also a really good day to eat a heart shaped pizza, which is what we will be doing tonight! See, I wanted a fancy dinner out when I was twenty years old…but at twenty-nine I prefer to avoid crowds on big holidays like this and a $12 pizza is just fine by me. Times change, people change. The only thing that doesn’t change is that we all need a little love in our lives to get by 😉