As of today, our love story is one thousand four hundred eighty-nine days old. That's four years, and twenty-nine days. By happy accident, Kyle and I were married exactly two years from the day we first started dating. The series of elaborate coincidences which allowed that to happen make silly words like "fate" and "destiny" go bouncing around my brain.
Four years and twenty-nine days is a long time when you're twenty-one years old. Four years and twenty-nine days is almost miraculous. That number means I have dedicated almost one fifth of my life to someone other than myself. It means that all those hundreds of days ago, when I sat alone and anxious in my room, convinced that a boy who barely knew I existed was about to turn my world inside out... I wasn't wrong. It means that when, two days into what sane people call a crush, I flopped down on my best friend's sofa and said, "I think I might love someone," I hadn't lost as many marbles as she suspected. More importantly, the past one thousand four hundred eighty-nine days have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am an incredibly lucky girl. Because I found the love of my life on the first try, and was crazy enough to recognize it.
Naturally, the universe had to balance out such wonderful luck. So my easily spotted, innocent, fragile love was tempered with time and separation. Luck may have brought Kyle and I together, but it wasn't enough to keep us that way. It was determination and faith, hope and stubbornness, a strong will, and immense amounts of love on both our parts which saw us through until now, and I believe with all my heart that those things will carry us through decades of anniversaries.
When I think about the long road that has delivered me to this place, to Kyle and our marriage, I am overwhelmed with gratitude -- gratitude to Kyle for taking my heart when I offered it; to my family and friends for supporting me when I chose to pursue love instead of more logical things; to whatever tiny, ancient event set this path in motion; and to my seventeen year old self, who was naive and reckless and brave enough to take the most significant risk of a lifetime. So, to honor the one thousand four hundred eighty-ninth day of our love, and the many people and circumstances that brought us here, I would like to share a single snapshot: the memory of one early morning in December of 2009, when after months of separation Kyle and I were finally brought together again.
I feel so small. I am lost in a sea of faces plucking luggage from the conveyor belt. I am completely helpless. All the signs meant to herd me in the right direction are written in a language I can’t understand. I hang back and follow people who look like they know where they’re going. Their strides are confident and their shoulders are square. I try to imitate that dauntless attitude.
My heart is pounding. My legs are shaking. It has taken nearly thirty hours to complete this journey that should have taken twelve. All my body wants is a bed and a glass of water and sleep. By some divine act of God, I navigate my way to the customs gate, present my empty passport, and watch with bloodshot eyes as its first stamp stains the thick blue pages. Part of my mind is already trying to put this scene to words for later, while another part tells my lips to say “thank you.”
I gather my bags and take one step after another toward huge double doors. I breathe in, concentrating on the oxygen flooding my body. I breathe out. I savor the emptiness. I memorize the way this feels. I half expect a camera crew to roll out and start filming. This moment is so enormous. It has taken so much time, so much work to bring me here, over 4,400 miles from home.
As the doors begin to part I close my eyes and hold my breath. My heart is hammering so loudly that it mutes the busy airport completely. The doors slide open and his voice breaks the silence.
“There she is!”
I feel a smile burst across my face before my eyes have completely adjusted to the harsh light in the next room. And then there he is. He’s only fifteen feet away from me and suddenly I am full to bursting when only five minutes ago I was nothing but a shell. I am walking as fast as I can manage with four bags draped around my shoulders.
But then the bags are on the floor and I don’t quite remember dropping them. It doesn’t really matter. All that matters is his arms around me and the feel of his face beneath my fingers and the few hot tears sliding down my cheeks for the thousandth time. What was and what will be blur into this one incredible moment and I am so light that I swear I could lift right off the tiles, but I don’t. I stay right where I am, locked in this perfect first embrace, for once not worrying about the long road ahead.
(Originally published February, 2010)
|Kyle and me in downtown Mannheim, during the week-long visit that followed the reunion above...|
|...and again, about two years after that date, at the Mannheim Christmas Market.|