To say I was a nonchalant bride-to-be would understate reality. I'm sure you remember that.
It's not that I wasn't excited about the day – I had been dreaming about it with increasing degrees of certainty since we were 17 years old.
It's just that I didn't particularly care about the details. I mean, I wanted nice flowers and good food and a flattering dress – you know, one that stayed put during vows, dinner, and dancing.
And the dress had fit in the store, perfectly. So no need for alternations, no need to try it on again. But then on Big Day Morning, I put it on before church just to be sure and – oh no – there was something seriously amiss. Had my boobs shrunk? [Was that even possible?] But no matter what we stuffed in it or which fancy bra I put on, it was clear that this strapless dress would slowly shimmy downward unless I stood still through everything. I mean, I was looking forward to taking it off and all, but I needed to get through the day first. Clothed.
Some freaking out commenced.
And then Becky's mom came over and she did something magical with a needle and thread and – poof! – everything was as it should be.
So I got dressed at the church, and when everything was cinched up tight, all the ladies left my dressing room and I waited for you. My heart pounded unexpectedly – why was I so nervous? And then you walked in the room and I don't remember what we said but I can still touch that feeling of home that washed over me.
The chaos and giddy stress of the morning melted right then and we walked through the day floating on all the promises of love and new life.
It's nearly seven years later.
Dinner sizzles on the stovetop and I'm alternating between chopping onions and rushing to save the baby from certain death. I told you earlier I didn't want to do this part of the day alone. I'm tired. Really tired. But its almost five o'clock and you're still not home. And I'm past my edge. Angry at you.
You walk in, finally. Helmet unhooked, sweat glistening, exhilaration still clinging to your skin. Something curt and heavy passes between my lips – not even a hello.
I'm sorry. I went farther than I meant to.
I turn back to the duties of dinner, holding my grudge between clenched teeth.
But you cut up the watermelon and refill the milk glasses and make the kids laugh and wash the dishes and glide over my bad mood like it doesn't have tentacles and hooks that are trying to drag you down.
I can't stay mad, even though I try. Eventually, I soften.
Today I go out for a bike ride of my own on the route you recommend. I'm staring up at the hills you promised would meet me here. Mountains, I mutter. But I like the challenge. And it's nothing me and my granny gear can't handle. I creak slowly up the incline and my bike even sounds kind of arthritic until I make it to the top – kidding! – where the road just flattens and then goes up even more.
At the top – for real this time – I celebrate inwardly as I anticipate the fast decent. I tuck in my elbows and glance down – 36mph. You'd be going faster, but I know you'd wait for me at the bottom, coasting while I'd pedal to catch up.
But you're home with the kids while I'm out here alone. I think about you the whole time. And my bliss meets yours on these roads where I find speed and exertion and sun and silence and beautiful scenery.
And then I'm back and I walk through the door and you know exactly where I've been and what I saw and how I felt because you've been there too and wanted to wrap it all up and give it to me. And all I can say is thank you and offer you this in return and put my hand in yours and say here's to seven times seven more years.
And then you go out for your ride and come back a little bit late but this time I don't really mind.
Happy Anniversary, John. I love you.