We may not be your typical high school sweethearts. We may not be typical at all. Our story started so early, it seemed too soon. But the constant I’ve found to be true about us, through all the change, the growth, the transformations of our relationship and of Carolyn and of Justin, is that we always come back to one another.
You have taught me so much about love and about life. The greatest gifts you’ve given me are things that would surprise my younger self. They aren’t materials gifts, and yet they’re my most precious of valuables.
The gift of space.
A lot of our relationship has been spent in a state of long distance. I remember when a two hour drive seemed like the other side of the world. But that space gave us room to fill, and fill we did with endless conversations about ourselves, about our hopes and dreams, our fears, our favorite colors. And as hard as it was, it made it seem worth it. As against the odds as we fought, we kept up that fight. Then we lost it. Then we came back and fought even harder. And little did we know that would be the foundation we would need years later for the day we said our goodbyes at the Seattle Airport, when you boarded the plane that really did take you across to the other side of the world for a year. It was perhaps the hardest year of my life in many ways, and I do not regret it one single bit. As hard as it got, as devastated as my heart felt, I knew that we would get through it. As scared as I was, looking back I realize that was also the bravest I ever was. The bravest we ever were. And we both know what beauty came out in us and for us on the other end.
The gift of growth.
Growth is just a softer way of saying change, change is the word we’re all most scared of. Yet in the end, change is what saved us. I have had the privilege of watching you change. At first it was scary, scarier than going through my own changes because what is unknown is often perceived as bad. Slowly, sometimes painfully, I began to let go of this perception a little at a time. And together we have grown as individuals and in turn as a couple. We still continue to grow and change. There are moments I can recall when I am watching you or listening to you and I feel it, it’s so small yet so profound, my love for you also grows. It’s as subtle as an exhale, that only after your deepest inhale do you realize that the capacity of your lungs feels just a little bigger. Like when you decide that 8am on a random weekday is the precise right moment to start making your own homemade candles, and you do, and they are magnificent. Or you share a new song with me, and after we listen together you explain to me what it means to you, and I learn something new about you after all this time. Or when I watch you sooth our giant puppy when she’s feeling frustrated that she can’t eat our shoes, you sympathize with her grunts and groans and gently explain to her that we need them to walk with her outside. It’s as if in these moments is the sentiment of a tiny, yet revolutionary, renewal of our vows.
The gift of unconditional love.
The true moment I knew what love felt like unconditionally, was the moment I felt worthy of it from myself. Loving you has always been simple, perhaps not easy, but it has always had a pull on my heart and my soul. And when I learned to listen to their intuition, I found them to know so much more than I gave them credit for. To quote a band that you recently shared with me, and is now a favorite of us both “our hearts know deeper seasons than our memories.” @ballroomthieves My heart was always right about you, and one of the best gifts you’ve given me is that your heart was always right about me. What I have discovered about true love, is that the more you work on yourself to feel deserving of love, the easier it will be to find and to cultivate. You learned how to support me without forcing me to feel any certain way. The more we let each other be ourselves, the more we have both become the best versions of Carolyn and of Justin.
It seemed like Valentines day was as good a day as any to write this for you. Next month we will have been married for 9 years. That leap of faith we took as kids is one of the best reckless decisions we’ve ever made. Along the way we have nearly lost each other, we have nearly lost ourselves, but it is these testing moments when I have found that I never loved you more. I don’t know what the future holds for us, nor have I ever, but I do know that if ever again I get pulled from you, if ever again you get pulled from me, we will always find our way back to each other.
“You become responsible forever for those you’ve tamed”
P.S. This valentines evening Justin and I have carved some time out of our busy schedules to go to a concert to see the @ballroomthieves! It’s important to make the time to do something good for the soul, with someone you love. Valentines day or not.