It's hard to imagine Tyler and I will soon be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary. I don't think 5 years is necessarily earth-shattering or an Everest-sized milestone. If nothing else, I am saddened by how fast the last 5 years have gone.
A few months ago over a skype date, my dad said something that I still get choked up about. I don't remember the story exactly, but he was on his milk route and saw a young mom getting her two young daughters out of the car as they went on with whatever activity that keeps families busy. In his mind, he saw his young wife and new mother helping my older sister and me get out of the car, which tugged at his sensitive heart. It is a common sentiment that kids grow up too fast, and one that I share from the opposite side. We truly grew up fast.
I would love to strangle the "wise" people who tell young adults that the best is just ahead. "Just wait until you graduate", they say. "You have no idea how hard it is being in a relationship," pleading for sympathy. And if they're happy: "Your life really isn't complete until you have someone to share it with, let me set you up with someone!" As if they have found their missing link, and now whatever they have must be what everyone else needs. And then you are actually in a relationship and the "advice" shifts, "Just wait until you have your first fight, then you'll really know if it'll work out." "I miss dating, life is so much simpler before you're married." And then you get married and you're finally on the same playing field: you grew up, you are sharing your life with someone and you are a "real adult" with shared bills and a standing date every Friday night. Like a slap, you realize you haven't arrived yet. Now you need kids. Strangers and family alike will tell you when, why, and how much you need them. And it's not going to stop there. As soon as you create and birth a miracle that is the perfect combination of both of you, you're going to get the "Is so-and-so going to get a little brother or sister soon?" (Am I right, parents??) Before you know it, your schedule changes from middle of the night feedings to play dates to cub scouts to track meets. You blink and all of a sudden, you're my dad telling his grown daughter via video chat on the other side of the world that his nostalgic flashback confirms that life truly, seriously goes by fast.
My story isn't unique or earth-shattering. I fall into the ever-cliche "10 years ago, if you were to tell me I'd be here, I would have laughed you out of town" category. When I met Tyler I had moved away from my family to "start my own life", as if space were the only requirement. I was young (I still am, thank you very much) and was somehow surviving on a diet of rice, popcorn, and diet coke. I was barely (if at all) making rent with my random babysitting jobs while running around Colorado Springs with my pathetic resume to every company who might hire a recent college grad with no experience right after the '08 crash. Read: I went on countless interviews over the course of two months and finally landed a less than dreamy job as a cashier for a catering company. I didn't have any options other than saying "yes", but as I set up the salad bar and scrubbed dishes for $9/hour, I knew I was definitely thinking of something better when I had packed up my life to start a new one.
Fortunately, I had a great group of girlfriends, a few of whom introduced me to a group of cute boys who were in their last semester at the Air Force Academy. You know where this is going.
Tyler entered my picture at a Superbowl party. He was wearing a Steelers hat, which he admitted was picked up off the street. I was cheering for the good guy, Kurt Warner, and his underdog team. I was way too into the game, which proved futile for many reasons.
A couple months passed with bowling nights, game nights and trips to the always wonderful Golden Bee at the Broadmoor Hotel and I had grown rather fond of these guys in their final stretch before moving on to better things. I had also counted the register at work wrong a million times, but that was probably my sub conscience reminding me that my work situation was supposed to be better. I was dog sitting for the family I babysat for, and had gotten a voicemail from Tyler (this was back when voicemails scared me and I avoided listening to them like the plague). I listened anyways. In his message, he said he had a little bit of free time and asked if I wanted to meet him for coffee.
This is why I don't listen to voicemails. You find out that the guy you had been flirting shamelessly with for the past couple months had picked up on it and the next thing you know, you're married and have picked up your life 5 times in 5 years. Stay away from voicemails.
I had a minor freak out and took the dog on another walk. When I finally called him back, I had missed my coffee window and dodged what I know now would have been a very delightful bullet. Thankfully, he asked again and I didn't say no to a casual lunch date after church. I don't know why I was so nervous, besides the fact that I couldn't remember the last time I had been on a real date, or eaten a real meal, thankyouverymuch9dollarsanhour. I don't know what I thought our little date would be like, but I found myself more comfortable and relaxed than I had been in a long time. I don't remember covering every factual area of our lives, or having awkward pauses like the ones chronicled in movies or tv shows. When we parted company, I called my friend Waverly and said something that she probably could have guessed was coming, "Well, I wasn't sure if I liked him before, but now I guess I might have a crush on him."
After a couple more dates, I remember feeling like I should fill my mom in. I told her what a great guy he was, but that she didn't need to worry-it wasn't going to get serious, since he would be moving in just a few months. After a few more dates, I called my dad. I told him that I thought it was getting a little more serious than what I had told my mom. I wasn't sure how he would react. But, the same dad who had pulled my sister's boyfriend out of choir in high school to take him out to lunch and the dad who drove three hours to my freshman dorm after I announced I had spent tuition money on a tongue ring, asked simply and ever so gracefully, "Does he make you happy?"
As we were nearing Tyler's graduation from the Academy, I called him from my balcony, even though we had just seen each other. I had avoided the whole "what would life in the military look like" talk because I knew once I found out, I would have to make a decision. I don't know how I decided I was ready for that talk or how I got the guts to ask him, but I did. When he told me, it didn't scare me and I felt relieved. I always thought God had it in His plans that I would marry a Pastor and I would spend my life like my mom: leading VBS and planning potlucks. I didn't necessarily decide that Tyler was "it" after that talk, but I certainly decided that he very well could be. How could I have possibly known that a little fling with the cute wanna-be pilot would turn into so much more?
There was a rough patch in the beginning of our relationship that lasted all of an hour. Tyler and I had plans which got cancelled at the last minute (a little foreshadowing of my future life as a military spouse?) so a couple friends and I went downtown to talk about it. I remember saying that I could "easily" end our relationship and not feel like I had invested too much. I thought about my life without Tyler and didn't like it. I knew immediately that not only was my life better with Tyler, but I was better with Tyler.
As I have found myself the recipient of more cancelled plans and even more waiting, I know more and more how much he is worth it and how lucky I am to be kept waiting.
Be hesitant to blink. Life goes by so slowly until we see that each day was worth so much more than the 24 hour limit time allowed. I know my dad would tell you to keep your eyes open as long as possible, and even now, as I live each day, I see exactly what he means.
**and for those of you who noticed the title and are curious: I'm not sure how many "issues" there will be in this "series" but I would love to share some of my fondest memories of the past 5 years, and hope you don't mind.**