Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ten Years

We "met" when I ran over his football with my car in a Clemson apartment parking lot. I immediately put my car in reverse to apologize for the mistake, accidentally running over the football again before speeding off without a word. He turned to his roommate, with whom he'd been throwing the football, and said, "I'm going to marry that girl." 

Approximately one year later, our paths crossed again, and we started dating. It was the summer before our senior year at Clemson. I was leaving for the summer to work in a camp in the middle of the woods in rural New Hampshire, a camp for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. I would be working 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, leaving little time for a long distance relationship. We didn't care. We started dating two weeks before I left. Shortly before I left town, he took me to the Clemson botanical gardens. As we sat side-by-side on an old wooden swing among the flowers, he held my hand and said, "I love you." I felt the same way.

As my mom drove me to the airport a few days later, I told her that he was the one. 

Two weeks later, a camp counselor position opened up at that camp in rural New Hampshire. Without hesitation, he applied, interviewed over the phone, and was hired immediately. He gave up the best summer of his life to join me for the hardest he would ever face: one filled with emotionally and physically demanding days trying to help very troubled children, getting just one day off per week for the entire summer. I worked with girls. He worked with boys. There was very little face-to-face contact between us during the days as we worked hard in our jobs to try and help our troubled campers. We decided to keep a joint journal that we would both write in throughout the summer. We took turns filling its pages, detailing our days and writing about our growing relationship with one another. We would hand over the journal every few days, and I would pour through the pages, savoring his words and looking forward to our next day off together. We spent our day off each week visiting different New England towns, traveling to Maine for fresh lobster and taking in the sights of a beautiful mountain town in Vermont. We walked new beaches, explored new towns, and continued to grow in our relationship.

The summer ended and my family awaited me as I returned to the South, glowing with excitement over the love I felt for the boy who had followed me across the country to begin our relationship together. 

We spent our senior year at Clemson together and with our best friends, finishing up our last classes and making sure our final memories of college were spent together. I graduated six months before him. He gave me my graduation gift: a beautiful, original, hand-painted piece of artwork he had commissioned--a rendering of that old wooden swing where we had first said, "I love you." One month later, he proposed to me on that swing. 

I moved to Atlanta shorly after to begin a grueling five year doctorate program. He joined me as soon as he graduated from Clemson a few months later. We planned our wedding by day and stayed up late at night to talk to his dad via internet, who had been deployed to Iraq as an Army reserve. We prayed for his dad's safe return back to the States, which happened approximately one month before our wedding the next summer. 

We were married in his hometown of Aiken, South Carolina, in a beautiful, blooming outdoor garden. Surrounded by our families and friends, we were married by his best friend's father, saying our I do's and promising each other our forevers on June 26, 2004. And then we laughed, we cheered, we ate, we drank, we toasted, and we danced. Oh, did we dance. 

It's been exactly 10 years since that day. 

There are not enough words to detail the many adventures we've had since that beautiful evening in June: 

The amazing trips we've shared across five countries and all over the United States;

The challenges we've endured as a couple, the hardest of which involved living apart for a year as I completed an intensive internship program at the University of Minnesota Medical School;

The homes we've owned (three). The jobs we've had (four between us). The friendships we've maintained since college. The new relationships we've formed throughout adulthood. The most important friendship we've worked hard to nourish and sustain: our own.

We've grown together as a couple. We've weathered family storms and stood by others as they've faced unimaginable circumstances. We've grieved over loss and smiled over new life. 

Today, we are growing in our Christian faith together. We are raising our three beautiful children together. We are spending time with our families together. We are making memories with old and new friends together. We are doing life together. 

So, Clay, my very best friend, my partner, my co-parent, my soulmate, my hub, my one true love, here's to our first 10 years of marriage. What a beautiful life we are living together

With All My Heart, 

Your Wif

P.S. I'm so glad that football was overthrown over 12 years ago. 

P.P.S. And now, a little walk down memory lane...
  • We shared many an adventure during our nine years living in Atlanta...

  • We've been lucky enough to be a part of so many wonderful celebrations for our family members and friends over the years...

  • We've made so many incredible memories with all of our favorite people, rarely turning down an invitation for fun, wherever that may take us. 

  • Of course, our most exciting, terrifying, important, meaningful adventure--parenthood--we are traveling through together, first welcoming our precious Banks after 5 wonderful years of marriage...

  • Then adding our one and only little girl just over two years later...

  • And finally adding the final piece to our family puzzle, our last precious baby boy, just over two years after that (exactly two months ago, yesterday!)...

  • Every single one of my most favorite memories starts and ends with you. 

Here's to many, many, many more amazing years with my very best friend, my Rich. Love you.

1 comment:

  1. This is so sweet - such a good looking couple! Happy Anniversary!