Hi, Husband

One of my dearest friends has a way of addressing people in the most ordinary of ways, but she somehow makes you feel entirely special and loved. When I call her, she often answers with a sweeping, “Hi, my beautiful friend!” Doesn’t take much to wonder why we’ve been friends for so long.

She and I were having dinner together at her house one evening a couple of years ago, and her husband came home from the gym. They had just recently been married, the first of our close-knit group of friends. Before he reached the dining room she called out, “Hello, husband!” in a lilting sing-song voice.  It was a simple greeting, but I remember being struck for the first time at what an intimate title “husband” or “wife” could be. She made a commonplace term sound completely endearing, a title reserved for the one precious person you chose to spend your days with. I loved it, and have been excited ever since to be able to use that same greeting.

I got married two weeks ago.

It was a lovely day, slightly overcast and breezy in the morning giving way to sun in the afternoon. My maid of honor (the wonder friend mentioned above) scooped me up in the morning for our day of relaxing and preparation. My Dad made us turkey sandwiches for lunch, my sister did our make-up, our musicians practiced in the backyard all afternoon. As the day wore on, it started to sink in what was coming and what I was about to do. My belly started doing flips, my hands started to get shaky, and I could feel tears quelling up at every mention of the evenings ceremony. It wasn’t fear, it wasn’t second thoughts, it wasn’t anything except realizing the weight of what I was about to commit to. It felt huge and simple all at the same time. It was opening up to a lifetime of greeting my sweet man home by saying, “Hi, husband.”

“Where you love somebody a whole lot, and you know that person loves you, that’s the most beautiful place in the whole world.”

– Excerpt from The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron

Truthfully, nothing tremendous has changed in our day-to-day since becoming husband and wife. We also didn’t enter into this marriage riding a frothy wave of lust and romance. Our kitchen is torn up and awaiting renovation, our garden is overgrown with weeds, I’m 6 1/2 months pregnant, and we both went back to work the Monday after the wedding.

Love is a reminder to bring your bike lock key to the farmer's market.

Love is a reminder to bring your bike lock key to the farmer’s market.

But we’ve been through enough together to know that what sustains us are kind words, generous gestures, and the conscious choice to be loving to each other. Everyday. We’ve also been through enough together to know that this whole relationship thing takes work, and there will be days when we won’t feel like being loving. We have done that work to get to where we are today, and I can only imagine what that work will look like in the years to come. But for now, for today, for this season in my life; the most beautiful place in the world happens to have a torn up kitchen and an overgrown garden.

Hi, Husband.

I love you.

What We’re Made Of

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I went to a pre-school that was housed in a big Catholic church. Our play area was in the sanctuary, which was obviously no longer used for services. A huge stained glass window at the far end of the room lent the space a muted, calming glow. I remember the cool touch of the stone walls, the dusty smell of the couches we all gathered on for story time, and the blue tables with silver aluminum trim where we made our craft projects. We had a dress-up station, stilts to toddle around on, the Lego sets I never had at home, and even little cots to take our naps on. Looking back, it was a pretty amazing pre-school. I have a surprisingly large number of distinct memories from that place, considering how young I was.

While I was there, I went through a phase with the monkey bars. For whatever reason, one day I decided that I needed to be able to cross them. I was determined to swing my way from one side to the other, and I wasn’t going to let kickball games, boisterous boys, or two handfuls of red and swollen blisters stop me.

I don’t recall how long it took me to finally reach my goal, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t even remember how I felt when I finally did it. But I do remember the attempts. I remember the stubbornness I felt towards getting all the way across, the unrelenting drive to keep on going, and the unwillingness to stop trying. As a child, I was extremely shy and sensitive, so this behavior was slightly out of character.

Out on a morning run last week, I had about 3/4 of a mile left and I was feeling tired and ready to give myself a break. I haven’t been out running at all this winter, so my stamina is in a very sad state. As I ease back in, I’ve been allowing time for little walking breaks, my pace is much slower than is has been in the past, and I’m generally just trotting along versus actually running. At the point when I wanted to stop and I knew I had about 3/4 of a mile until I was home, I approached a red light that clicked over to green. I realized I had the choice to go ahead and walk, but something inside my head said, “Nope. Getting through this helps you remember what you’re made of.”

The truth, my friends, is that I’ve had a whirlwind of a winter. Life has presented me with challenges I didn’t (and still don’t fully) feel prepared for. I’ve been launched into planning and preparing for things that I anticipated happening years from now. I think that we all go through periods in life where we challenge ourselves, and then periods when we are challenged by life. I’m currently in a period of being challenged by life, and it seems that somewhere between January and last week, I forgot what I am made of.

I ran (okay, I trotted)  that 3/4 of a mile home chanting to myself, “Remember what you’re made of. Remember what you’re made of. Remember what you’re made of.

Running Shoes

I made it home without a break, and I texted my Mom: “I did my whole morning run without stopping to walk!! Hooooray!!!”

She replied with: “YEAH, YOU! I know this has been a challenge. Reminds me of your monkey bar tenacity!”

I felt utterly victorious, and my commitment to finishing completely renewed my sense of inner strength.

It was remarkable.

I may not be completely unflappable in the midst of life’s surprises, but I’ve certainly still got the grit of a 5-year old girl who is determined to reach the other side of the monkey bars. I’m learning that, during the extra wild stretches of life, it helps to give ourselves a little self-imposed nudge into something challenging – if only to remember what we’re made of.

What are you made of? Passion? Drive? Unwavering loyalty? What helps you remember that you’ve got these things in you?