It’s been 1,095 days (1,576,800 minutes for those who are already humming the song from Rent, sorry everyone) since I lost a strip of false eyelashes during my first date with Science Guy (he married me anyway; incidentally our wedding was the only other time in my life I’ve worn falsies, so his initial misgivings about my high-maintenance were mostly unfounded) and giddily texted my escape person from the restaurant bathroom, “He has two guinea pigs!!!!! Named Poppy and Buttercup!!!!!” and ended the night with our first kiss and my first (and only!) parking ticket. (I was far too brazen and drunk on love to abide by puny traffic laws, or something like that…he married me anyway…)
It’s been 730 days since we saw a baby rhino and a stubborn giraffe and African painted dogs and lots of other megafauna…oh yeah, and since we pulled over at a sunny meadow near Zanesville and he presented me with a copy of Les Miserables (to which in my denseness I nearly responded, “Oh, I already have one…”) that contained my engagement ring and the first big promise we made to each other.
It’s been 365 days since our third trip to the same restaurant where I lost my eyelashes, my first bearing the same last name as Science Guy and the embryo that would eventually become Fire Monkey. (Oddly enough I can’t remember what I ordered at any of those three visits.) As we left that night, I mused to Science Guy, “Maybe this time next year we’ll be celebrating your graduation.”
And now here we are, party of three where three years ago we were two ones (and a spermatid and secondary oocyte but never mind that).
In those three years, many things have changed. I’ve had three jobs. (I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up…eventually…) Science Guy finished the last of his classes and is now in the process of publishing a paper and starting on his dissertation. We’ve been on four vacations and visited four countries (three of which were on the same cruise but who’s counting). Science Guy updated his laptop, phone and car. (I have updated none of these things, shockingly.) Oh yeah, and we got married and had a baby. Minor details.
Once upon a time one of my pastors gave me some very sage advice: be with someone in all four [Midwestern] seasons before deciding whether to marry them. This is indeed very important because I tend to retreat into a pile of despair and blankets from fall equinox to spring equinox, and I’m sure a less patient man than Science Guy would have left me to hibernate alone in my cave of textiles upon discovering this instead of buying me Vitamin D supplements and parking the full-spectrum lamp on the coffee table for six months. But beyond overly dramatic seasonal affective disorder, I really do believe that (almost) nothing can replace time spent together in different seasons of life (and transitions from season to season) when it comes to building a relationship.
The liturgical calendar with its long stretch of ordinary time comes to mind. It isn’t always Christmas or Epiphany or Easter. It isn’t always the wedding day or the honeymoon or the day your first child is born. (Thank GOD.) How you walk and talk and live and love during ordinary time gives you the strength, trust, honesty, and communication you need for the extraordinary moments. You flex your forgiveness and love muscles forgiving the everyday less-lovables so that when the big things come you’ve at least run that route before. (Sorry, sports metaphors are confusing for me.)
Since finishing grad school six years ago, I have learned the importance of trying to minimize the number of simultaneous or consecutive large life changes if I can help it, and I brought that principle to our marriage as well. Throughout our three years together, I’ve had the lion’s share of changes (homes, jobs, names, pregnancy) while Science Guy has steadily progressed toward his degree but essentially kept most of the big pieces of his life the same. Obviously Fire Monkey’s birth four months ago threw us both for a loop, and he made his debut right before Science Guy started working on a major publication that will form a large part of his doctoral dissertation. This summer ended up being a bit of a crucible for our marriage, and me as a person, as we both wrestled with the new challenges of parenting Fire Monkey. Now that it’s my turn to stay steady (not my strong suit), I discovered a streak of selfishness and anger in myself that I’m not super proud of and I’m not sure I did as well supporting Science Guy as he has done for me in the past. (He is inherently more stable than I am.) But we flex those forgiveness muscles and keep going together.
It’s been 1,094 days since I woke up the morning after our first date and thought with greater certainty than I’d experienced for a long time, “I don’t know where this is going but I know that was good.” Still true 1,094 days later and for many more to come.
Download: Extraordinary Moments Printable