Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To The Nines

This is dedicated to the man that allowed me to start calling him ‘Husband’ on the day that we were married. The same man that has allowed it to progress to Hubby, Hubbykins, Hubbers, HubbyMcWubberson, you get the idea. Let’s just say it feels weird when I call him just ‘Ian.’ He’s a keeper.

Today is our ninth anniversary. I considered commemorating this day by writing nine things I love about Ian, or nine things that drive me crazy about him, or sharing nine of my favorite hairs on his head, or some other such things relatable to the number nine. But, nine things I loved seemed too easy and I couldn’t possibly reveal nine things that drive me crazy since I can hardly come up with one ;). So I have settled upon nine memories that stand out to me over the course of our nine years together.

First, the prologue. This doesn’t count toward the nine memories because I am making the rules. There was a night we shared before we were married, perhaps before we were engaged (but who could know for sure?), that I will never forget. I was having one of those days when I hated every inch of myself. I was the wrong size, the wrong shape, and I was so frustrated with it all that I had come to tears while enjoying a starry evening with my beau on his balcony. He was adamant that I was beautiful, I was adamant perfectly opposite. Frustrated with my persistence, Ian got down on his knees and forced me to look into his face while he proclaimed (with much fervor) how perfect I was through and through. Up to that point, I had never so readily believed someone when they told me I was beautiful. The sincerity in his eyes was unmistakable. It is a memory I love because of how much he loved me. How genuinely he wanted to protect my heart from my own self-destruction. The best part is I am a far cry from the hottie I was then, and still I hear at least once everyday, with all the sincerity in the world, how beautiful I am.

Ok, on to the married memories.. I promise they are not all quite so sappy :)

Year 1. Upland, Indiana was home, and home was too quiet. Our only options for companionship were birds or fish and fish weren’t cuddly enough. We settled on a bird hunt and found one at a garden store not too far away. He was a silky white cockatiel and was crazy as a foaming possum. Let’s just say had we done our research, we might have purchased a hand-raised bird. I will never forget riding in Ian’s Nissan 300ZX with that bird scratching and shrieking trying to escape from the dainty, brown cardboard box on my lap. Undeterred, we spent the ride home coming up with a name for him (her? We still don’t really know). We passed a road sign that said ‘Hamilton’ and I was sold. It was perfect! Ian thought so too, but if you ask him, Hamilton was named for Patrick Hamilton, the martyr. And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the difference between Ian and myself. I still get warm fuzzy feelings when I think of our crazy, sweet Hamilton.

Year 2. Perhaps the most poignant memory this year was when Ian told me he got in to St Andrews for his master’s degree. I was on a mission trip in Mexico, so received the news via a short pay phone call, and spent the rest of the trip wondering where on earth life was taking us. However, my favorite times to think back on from this year are those that we spent together in the art building at Taylor University. Being the weirdo married couple living on a college campus, Ian was around a lot though he was not a student. Most of my work had to be done in the art building, so he often came with me and I loved every minute of it. I loved how easily he talked to my peers and professors. I loved that he was there with me, knowing that part of my life. I love the memories I have of him working just as hard as I did to finish framing and setting up all the artwork for my senior exhibition.

Year 3. Hello change! Neither of us had ever moved further than Upland, Indiana, and here we were moving to a different country. A little over a month after we moved, still in the throes of culture shock and insecurity, I remember getting the news that my grandma had died. I remember feeling so shocked and numb. I thought she was getting better. It was the beginning of the end of my childhood utopia of trips to grandma and grandpa’s house. The expected. The norm. It was changing. I didn’t know how to handle it, so I took the longest shower of my life and cried a lot. Ian was there. He cried with me, he remembered with me, he helped me sort out a plane ticket so I could be with my family to grieve the loss of my loving, feisty grandma. He probably got me a drink of water, too, since that’s what he does when someone is crying. That was the beginning of a tough year that pushed us to burrow into one another, to trust Jesus, and to soak up the sun and the rain alike.

Year 4. This was the year that we took a little getaway to Glencoe for the weekend following our American Thanksgiving celebration. It was our first time hiring a car. A car that we barely fit into. I remember marveling at how easily Ian could reach over and touch my window, and the fear (that I would mess up his driving) wrapped in giggles every time he hit my leg as he shifted. It was Ian’s first time driving on the left, but it was not the first time he impressed me with his readiness to handle what is thrown at him. We saw the Northern Lights, we got to drive and hike in snow, we got lost together so many times, we marveled at the incredible scenery and the difference between the east and west coasts, we did what married couples do on getaways and then we had a baby.

Year 5. This was the year that we learned that having a baby is not all it’s cracked up to be. Obviously, a sentiment we recovered from. I remember my first attempt to drag myself out of bed after bringing our ‘bundle of joy’ home from the hospital the day before. There had been no sleep. My eyes were burning, my body was exhausted, I turned and look at my husband’s bloodshot eyes and found he was thinking the same thing I was. What have we done?? In our sleep-deprived short-sightedness, we were pretty sure our lives were ruined forever. Happily, we were very wrong. Ian was ingenious at figuring the baby thing out. Someone told him crumpling a chip bag could quell the screaming. When that stopped working, he found a giant trash bag and made all the ruckus he could until our ‘little angel’ was asleep. I hope I never forget watching him desperately flapping that black trash bag around in our first son’s tiny bedroom.

Year 6. Ok so it is harder than I thought to only pick ONE memory from each year. We do so many things each year! In year 6 we drove across Europe, spent 5 weeks apart while Ian studied at Rutgers, had another baby, I mean, come on. I remember our first time leaving Aed completely and going SO far away to Edinburgh :). The Tattoo started at 10pm so it was a very late excursion. I remember feeling giddy with excitement that we were FREE! We were alone, just the two of us, going out somewhere without our son. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our son and I loved going places with him, but the feeling of being by ourselves was irreplaceable. We had next to nothing to carry and could go anywhere or do anything on a whim. We could be LOUD. I remember thinking we were getting old as we struggled to enjoy something that started at 10pm because we were so tired. I remember feeling so happy and refreshed as I enjoyed such an experience with my favorite person in the world. Focusing only on him.

Year 7.  We left Scotland, I ran a half marathon, Ian got a job and graduated. Another full year. I remember when he left to return to Scotland to teach a class and defend his thesis. We were living with my parents during our in between, full of hope for a job. We made a paper chain so the boys could see how many sleeps were left before we saw Daddy again. I remember hanging those little circles while feeling like it may as well have been a year before we would see him again. I remember my eyes filling with tears as he told me about his visits to places that meant so much to us, visits with people that I loved and missed. I remember the phone call to tell me that he had passed. The joy and thankfulness we felt. I remember making ‘Dr. Daddy’ signs to greet him at the airport. I remember the way it felt to see him again, to feel so proud of my husband and what he had done, to watch my big boy run to his daddy with such joy, to see my husband’s face full of life and light as we relished in the possibilities.

Year 8. A cross-country move to a place that promised sunshine and sand, then delivered it, along with sweltering heat and earthquakes. Earthquakes. I am not the worrier in our family. Ian takes care of that unfalteringly. Anxiety is a very real experience for him. I can’t say why, but moving to a place that threatened earthquakes at any time really ate away at my mind. I found myself constantly trying to figure out how to handle an earthquake in each place we went, so heavily burdened by being responsible for my helpless children’s safety. I remember realizing one morning how consumed I was by this fear, by the worst-case-scenarios that were becoming a constant in my consciousness. That night as we went to bed I tearfully confessed to my husband how much I was struggling – how I had no idea how to handle it, and I remember so clearly feeling like I finally understood, just a tiny bit, what he deals with all the time. He was so ready to comfort and help me, so experienced with such a burden. He knew.

Year 9. My most constant memory and feeling this year has been awe. My moments to reflect and sit with my own thoughts are few and fleeting, but every once in a while I catch a glimmer of the amazement that lies in my spirit, down underneath the diapers and worries and peanut butter smears and bubble blowing. We moved across the country again and this year has carried a theme of provision. Things we didn’t even think to ask for we were given. Things that have made this place such a rest and refreshment for our family. Our home is just that, a home. It is not a tiny apartment, it is not filled with the goods of strangers, we have made it ours. Most every day, I have awakened to the presence of my husband lying next to me. I have ended each day with an ‘I love you.’  I have watched my husband love our children, I have thrown my hands up with him as we gave up trying to figure out how to fix yet another situation. I have given thanks for his steadiness, his patience, his willingness to do and do and do. My favorite memory, right now, was waking up to his smile this morning as he reminded me that it was our anniversary. The feeling that washed over me as I knew, even with all the mundane and monotony, today would be a special day. Maybe there aren’t enough years in a life for me to feel like I’ve gotten sufficient time with my husband, I can’t say yet. But I can say that nine isn’t enough :). I am eternally grateful for the man I have been given to share my life with. Happy anniversary, Hubbywubbyshmubbykins.