Last year when I wrote my anniversary love letter it all still seemed so new and fragile. Built on a firm foundation, for sure, but still like an earthquake could bring it all down. We were still learning each other. Still figuring out what this thing was and if it could work for the long term.
On Sunday we celebrated our two year anniversary. We went to “Dave and Busters” and played video games and then came home and watched tv. Nothing too glamorous. Nothing super romantic. But fun and a time to connect with one another. And as I sit here reflecting on our two years together, I think about what has been and what will be.
I’ve been listening to Hadestown, folk opera by Anais Mitchell, on repeat. There’s this song that the young lovers sing to one another. It starts like this:
“I was alone so long I didn’t even know that I was lonely. Out in the cold so long, I didn’t even know that I was cold. Turn my collar to the wind. This is how it’s always been. All I’ve ever know is how to hold my own.”
When my first real relationship fell apart I walled up my heart. I hid myself away. I told myself that I would never allow myself to get hurt like that again. I didn’t realize at the time that many of the ways I had been hurt in that relationship weren’t the kind of “normal” hurt that happens when you open yourself up to someone else, instead these were deeper and more cruel hurts. But even realizing that I decided it was better to be alone. To be on my own. And like the song says, I was alone for so long that I didn’t know that I was lonely. I had friends and my work. I had things that I was passionate about. I was fine. Happy. And then her.
The singer continues,
“But now I wanna hold you, too. You take me in your arms and suddenly there’s sunlight all around. Everything bright and warm and shining like it never did before. And for a moment I forget just how dark and cold it gets. All I’ve ever known is how to hold my own, but now I wanna hold you.”
She came in like a summer storm. The kind the breaks suddenly and washes away everything you thought you knew. And then when the storm clears the world is brighter and more sparkling than you could have ever imagined.
And we started to walk together. Hesitantly. Slowly. Taking our time. I was cautious. In the past I had rushed in, too far, too fast, and then felt like I couldn’t get my bearings. I didn’t want that to happen again. I didn’t want to lose myself in this. I wanted to make sure that this life that I had built for myself would be expanded (and not diminished) by a relationship.
The beautiful thing is we both have walked into this with eyes wide open. Sure, there was sappy giddy honeymoon phase where we didn’t get nearly enough sleep and spent every single second together. But from the get go this relationship has been built on a fierce honesty.
The lovers end this first song with her singing to him:
“Say that the wind won’t change on us. Say that we’ll stay with each other and it’ll always be like this.” And he replies “I’m gonna hold you forever. The wind will never change on us. Long as we stay with each other. And it will always be like this.”
And at the beginning that’s how it feels. Like the wind will never change and everything will be just like this forever and ever and we can make all sorts of promises to one another and just have them come true by force of will.
But I have been down that road before and gotten burned so I held my caution in front of me. I will not rush. I will not push. I will not make promises that I cannot keep. This will be what it will be.
At every step we stepped back and reassessed. Is this still what you want? It is. Are you ready to move forward? I am.
So we walked forward. With tears and laughter. With projects and plans. We adopted a kitten. We packed up our stuff and left our houses and have been building a home together. We’ve continued to dream, both separately and together. And we’ve continued in that same vein of honest conversations. Of trust.
Of course, as the musical progresses the lovers face many challenges. And then a reprise of the song comes in the form of a new song called “Promises”. Finally the lovers get real: He sings: “I don’t know where this road will end, but I’ll walk with you into the wind”. And they sing to each other: “I can’t promise you fair sky above, can’t promise you kind roads below. But I’ll walk with you, my love any way the wind blows.”
Do you let me walk with you?
And keep on walking, come what will?
And if I can be honest I find this second song even more beautiful than the first. Because the lovers are being realistic. Still hopeful, still committed, but with a foundation that’s not just built on untested promises and hopes for a perfect future. Now the lovers are admitting how scary it is to be in a relationship with someone. How vulnerable it makes you. How there are no promises about what the future holds, but how you can make a commitment to continue walking together even in the face of uncertainty.
Two years isn’t a lot of time, but we have definitely been tested and come out stronger on the other side. And what we’ve built is a foundation that feels like it could withstand even a big earthquake.
A, I can’t promise you fair skies above or a kind road below. I can’t promise you anything about which way the wind will blow. But I can promise to keep walking. To keep being honest. To keep trusting you and trying to earn your trust. I will keep trying to make you laugh and holding you when you cry. I will continue to support you and cheer for you. I will continue to encourage you to chase after your dreams, to go after what you want, and to find your place in the world.
We will keep cooking together, and running errands, and raising our cats, and doing all of the little things that make a life.
We will continue to build. To dream.
Here’s to two years. And another one of walking.