I met my husband in the fall of 1990 and I honestly cannot explain what it was that drew me to him, but I was certainly drawn in. Maybe it was those blue eyes and the mysterious grin or the way he made everyone laugh in an attempt to hide the vulnerability I spotted. I was a very troubled, traumatized girl and had attempted to seal myself off from everyone and everything, but, for some reason, that boy leaning against the door frame between classes broke down the doors and found his way in.
Though we parted ways somewhere down the road, our paths continued to weave in and out with one another’s journey. We shared mutual friends and both his mother and sister were my teachers at one point or another (I like to think I was a favorite student, but I was full of fears and often fell asleep in class when trying to hide in the corner).
Over the years, technology made it easier to cross paths online and send notes like, “Hi, everything is fabulous!” as if it were the truth. We would share a pun or a quick joke and lose touch, but mutual friends created a link that was not easily broken.
When I found myself stumbling, tripping, and getting scraped up because of the direction my path had taken, he was one of the first to appear and say, “I want you to come home so you will have people who care about you nearby. Let me be your friend and help you.”
It had been a long time since we had last shared a pun or a quick joke, so I was surprised by the concern in his voice. Besides, I knew it was time to change the scenery and see something different when I looked out the window. So, I packed up my Jeep with whatever would fit and I hit the road for a trek back across the country after more than a decade away from my hometown.
He was the one who kept track of my travels, he was the one who wanted to make sure I was safe, he wanted to wire me money to pay for gas, and he was the one who concerned himself with whether or not I had a roof, food, and a coat for the coming winter (while the roof and food were taken care of, I actually did not have a coat, because I didn’t need one where I had been living).
When I went to visit him at his house for the first time to help him with a project and cook up some deer meat, the address and location jolted me. The history attached to that house was astounding and, well, there he was on the very territory that has had a lot of significance in my life. I found myself standing in the very room where my mother once had a baby shower as she waited for my birth. And, out in the backyard, I pointed to the spot I had once been dumped in the alley. Long story short, it wasn’t long before we both knew we would be getting married. Once again, that boy broke through my locked doors and found his way in.
I walked down the aisle to him as he played the guitar and sang In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. It was a song that we used to make out to in high school (sorry moms, but we’re married now so it is okay!). I nearly wept in the middle of our ceremony as I realized those two teenagers from long ago were about to share a name as husband and wife.
My husband recently pulled out the guitar to sing that song for me again and we were both hit with some startling emotions as we realized how the lyrics have more meaning now than ever before.
This marriage has certainly seen some trials, but sometimes I think the trials allow the good things to shine more brightly and beautifully when the stormy clouds start to part. Would we recognize the good stuff if it were not for the rough stuff? Would the smoother travels seem as smooth without all of those bumps and boulders in the road? I suppose it would be hard to recognize a treasure when we’ve found it if we had not also experienced great losses along the way.
Last night our daughter made a pallet in the living room with blankets and pillows while a cartoon flickered on the television screen. She invited my husband and I both to lay with her and have a ‘sumparty’. I looked around at the toys, the mountain of laundry, and the dishes in the sink and then just shrugged my shoulders and made my way to the floor as my daughter fluffed a pillow for me. It wasn’t long before our 9 month-old son, 3 year-old daughter, my husband, and I were engaging in a gentle pillow fight and tickle fest. The sound of laughter filled the house and there were happy squeals, shouts of delight, and much excitement. Even the cat and the puppy joined in on the chaos. My husband and I caught each other’s eyes across the room and we both felt the tears welling. He mouthed “I love you” as I caught the whisper with my hand and placed it across my heart.
By some miracle and in spite of the twists and turns of those dusty, bumpy roads, that teenage boy and that teenage girl found their way back to each other.