It’s taken me almost 7 years of marriage to put a single wedding photo on the walls of our home. SEVEN YEARS people.
And although there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it has never felt more important to share in us with our boys (our love story, our marriage our partnership). To have visual prompts of all of it and to have it all over our home.
To have it written down.
Our love story is pretty non-epic. BUT — it is pretty dang cute…
Newport antiqued silver frame c/o Framebridge
Richmond antiqued gold frame c/o Framebridge
I would say it all started in high school, but Nick will throw it all the way back to junior high. An 8th grade social studies class to be exact. He and I got paired up to work on a project together and eventually reached an impasse (because we are both just that stubborn) that we then took to the teacher. Truly? I don’t even remember this (haha!) but he says that our teacher sided with him. (Suuuuuurrrrre…)
Fast forward to junior year of high school: I had just gotten my braces off. I’d returned to school after lunch and mid-bell of our English class, one of the few classes we ever shared. I took my assigned seat in the back that was next to him. I was obviously giddy having just had lost about 5lbs of metal from my head and couldn’t stop smiling.
He smiled at me and said, “Did you get your braces off?”
“Yeah.” I chuckled.
And then he replied with something like a genuine, “You look good.”
I really don’t remember the words he used, and I certainly couldn’t tell you if the conversation grew from there, but I do remember the look on his face. And this shared feeling of having noticed each other for the first time.
Not a year went by and we were on the verge of our senior year. Smack dab in the middle of summer, I’d been invited to a friend’s bonfire gathering. It was a hodge-podge of friends I’d mostly acquired by common interest and ones I would come to know as lifelong friends in the years coming. Nick was there.
At some point we all decided to take a walk. A large herd of us casually strolling the long and winding rural street that usually constitutes a “country subdivision”. Conversation gravitated toward some sort of drama that I was completely unfamiliar with. My pace slowed, searching for others and some other topic of conversation that I was able to participate in. Eventually I reached the back of the pack and found Nick. He too had found himself on the outside of the current conversation choice. Our pace slowed even more and we walked together. Talked together.
For the life of me, I (again) couldn’t tell you what all we talked about during that walk. But yet again, I am left with the memory of this feeling. The longer we walked side by side and the more we talked, the more acutely aware I became of his presence — and I how I’d ever gone so long without noticing it. His (then) lanky frame. His dirty blonde hair — just long enough and shaggy enough to begin to curl. His fiercely blue eyes.
Although our bodies never touched, I could distinctly feel him near me.
After we all returned from our walk, we retreated to my friend’s pool for some swimming. I’ve never been very adventurous when it comes to water. Jumping off the deep end? No thank you. I’ll take the calm, waist-high water of the shallow end please. The mere thought of getting a nose-full let alone a lung-full of water was enough to leave me cautious and reserved, calculating even, in such a setting. You can imagine my amazement as I watched Nick do cannonballs off the springboard on the far side of the pool. Again and again and again this guy, just dunking himself beneath the water with great force. Each time breaking through the surface with a wild smile and laugh. No gasping for air, no hint of fear on his face. Like it was nothing. Like a fish, the water appeared to be his home.
Soon after I left my friend’s house, but not before scribbling my phone number on the back of a receipt that I pulled from my wallet, for a whoopee cushion and shampoo of all things. (He still has that receipt.)
Later that summer he would sneak me into the county fair (ducked in the back seat of his Dad’s truck) for our first date. At the onset of our senior year I would ask him to the Sadie Hawkin’s dance at school. He would ask me to be his girlfriend on one fateful September day.
We’d work together at a local canoe rental, taking many a kayak and canoe trip down the river that flows through our tiny town. He’d take me to “the barrels” (as they call them). High upon the riverside, he’d ask me to jump into the water with him.
We graduated and went off to college together. We stretched and we grew and at times it stung — even flat out hurt. But we stuck together, day after day choosing each other and, eventually, he took my grandma’s ring put it on my finger and asked me to marry him on a beach just after sunset.
After our wedding we’d honeymoon somewhere tropical, with beachfront and sunshine for miles. As I skirted at the edge of the beach and he bobbed up and down with the waves further out, he’d invite and encourage me into deeper waters.
I finished school before him and for 6 months we’d live in separate cities. I didn’t know it at the time, but I became a lighthouse.
Soon we grew eager to start a family and since then have brought two gorgeous, breath-taking, wonderful boys into this world. Our anchors.
Through all life’s major events, sleep deprivation and sacrifice of time and self we still continue to choose each other, to push each other day after day. Sometimes when I think back to the boy and girl that first noticed each other all those years ago, it sort of feels like a different life. Like she and he couldn’t have possibly imagined the life God had in store for them. The life they would some day dream and build together.
We’ve been together for over 10 years now. We’ve been afforded certain things like contentment and being able to finish each others sentences, but also the ability to learn each other’s deepest desires — things that God has spoke straight into our hearts. And I think the thing I love most about our relationship (and the thing I most pray that my boys’ find as well) is our unwillingness to allow each other to settle for anything less.
When it feels hard and heavy and the path of least resistance looks awful nice, one of our stubborn selves is always unwilling to compromise and pushes through. When one of us whispers to life a lofty dream, the other stays up late week after week to make it happen. When one of us face plants into the mud the other one quickly (suppresses a chuckle) and helps the other back up (and back to work, because, no mercy).
Sometimes not letting each other settle for less feels a little more like, “you’re not good enough.” It feels heavy in the worst way and threatens to drown us in the pool of insecurity that rests within us all.
But then, we manage one good solid breath. Then another and another and another and are able to return to a steady float.
Sometimes the good, hard work it takes to keep from settling for less feels a little more like, “we’re in over our heads.” The ocean’s waves feel unforgiving, relentless and a storm brews overhead.
But then, we’re able to tread water just long enough, or we move together to calmer waters, or the storm breaks suddenly into the biggest, brightest most brilliant rainbow you’ve ever seen.
Our love isn’t without fault. Just like every other couple that has ever been (and ever will be), we’ve fought over: not using an exact recipe (and why that recipe has no meat), why the paper towel roll is on the counter vs. the kitchen table, about dirty clothes laying on the floor five feet away from the laundry hamper and why on God’s green Earth anyone would ever leave the toilet paper roll empty.
But as I’m writing this, these things feel so insignificant to me. Laughable, even. Sometimes these detailed moments elicit harsh words, impatient voices and cause pain and even the shedding of tears. These detailed moments stitch together our everyday. They aren’t without importance.
But I don’t want to be blinded and frozen by the details. To live with fear, regret or resentment. To waste time and lose focus on what God has called each of us to do.
I want to keep pushing. And I want to keep being pushed.
I want to step into deeper, more open waters. To attempt to know what it is to live life with abandon. Because I married one of the best swimmers around.
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This post contains affiliate links. Thank you to Framebridge for partnering with me in this post. I reached out to Framebridge to scope them out and sincerely adore their process and product. This post was not a prompt, but nonetheless came as a result of the opportunity to work with a company that is genuinely interested in the stories of others. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support The Lovely Laura Life.