When I saw him for the first time, I remember thinking he looked like the kind of guy who would have tattoos. Immediately following that thought I remember wondering if I was right—if he did in fact have tattoos—whether it would be a deal breaker.
In a matter of seconds I decided it would not.
In a matter of weeks, I realized nothing, actually, would be a deal breaker for me with this guy. Nothing at all.
The smell of salt at the beach still calls to mind the day I met him, also the smell of mildewed beach towels and the sting of sunburnt skin. A certain color of green—the color of my shirt the night we were introduced, and also a certain color of blue—the color of the Gulf off the panhandle of Florida—ignite the memory of that week. Fettuccine Alfredo reminds me of our first date, and the smell of Starbucks, reminds me of the subsequent late night hang outs in the weeks that followed. Coca cola cake reminds me of the cake he baked for my 24th birthday— when I had been awake for 24 hours after traveling internationally—and my foggy and delirious headspace that somehow still managed to think very, very clearly, “He made me cake out of my two favorite things. Chocolate and Coke. He might be the one.” The taste of McDonald’s French fries, a cool glass of white wine, and black jelly beans remind me of the day we got engaged. And the arrival of Spring in the south still calls to mind our wedding day, almost exactly eight months after the day I first wondered about those tattoos.
March in Washington DC is finicky. Sometimes you get your biggest snowstorms of the year just when you think it’s safe to pack the sweaters away for good. And sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get temperatures in the mid-seventies, the first arrival flowers scenting the air, the blue skies and puffy clouds so three dimensional and endless you find yourself believing you can actually see the curve of the earth beyond them. Sometimes you get near perfection. In the weather. And the man. Not complete perfection, but perfection enough.
When I look back on the years we’ve had together, “enough” captures it. It’s been enough.
Not all of it has been laughter. But enough of it has.
And the parts that weren’t, carved deeper inroads of compassion towards one another.
Not all of it has been easy. But enough of it has.
And the parts that weren’t, summoned in us a resilience and fortitude we never imagined we had at our disposal.
Not all of it has been grace. But enough of it has.
Like the grace I find God giving me. Not more than I need. But enough for the day. Enough for the moment. Enough for just the next right step.
Except now, in a different way all together, it doesn’t feel like enough.
The elongated first ten years of marriage are the years that make two people an “us”. They are slow in all their firsts. Your first house. You first baby. Your first move. Your first loss. Your first changes as individuals and first attempt to relearn each other as a couple. But starting at year 11, you realize you’ve built a pretty good foundation in that first decade. That the years built atop that sure base are speedy now—the way you write the years even somehow encapsulating the rapid movement. Spelling out o-n-e, t-w-o, t-h-r-e-e…becomes the frenzied, 10, 11, 12. The blending of one year to another is hardly recognizable and you realize everything everyone told you about life, is true. It’s fast. It’s harder than you thought. It’s better than you thought. And you are never as “put together” at a certain age as your younger self imagined you to be.
And suddenly, you panic, as you begin to wonder, if the time you have left, will in fact be enough.
Will there be enough time to see this experiment in love and commitment, in selflessness and silliness, through?
Will there be enough time to watch our babies stupefy us in their steady growth toward grown men, unique temperaments and talents emerging and shaping their ever evolving paths towards adulthood?
Will there be enough being present, being attentive, being hyper-focused in our priorities and our dreams to get us to the next decade and the one after that short on regret and tall on satisfaction?
Will there be enough room in our cluttered and aging minds to remember the color blue of the Gulf, and the color green of my shirt? Will there be enough space to recall the feel of a still wet behind the ears Spring, and the newness of love professed, promised and practiced?
Suddenly enough doesn’t seem nearly long enough.
Every year I try to remember to dig out the turquoise journal that documented the day I met the boy I would later marry, the day he held my hand for the first time at the movie theater, and the night he kissed me for the first time. Finally. I go back and laugh at the fights we had leading up to the start of our forever—one in particular on the steps of the townhouse I lived in that both shook us and shocked us at how hurtful we could be and how hurt we could feel at the hand of the one we loved. I go back and think of how expansive the world felt in 2006, and how rudimentary it all seemed. The smell of a coffee shop, inconsequential. The imaginings of tattoos, a fleeting thought. The taste of pasta and licorice, of French fries and white wine, something—but certainly not the bedrock to a marriage.
And yet, here we are. Eleven years later. And what never felt like the real important stuff ended up being the stuff we built the first part of a lifetime on. And “enough” feels both perfectly fitted for what we have, and painfully short of the forever I want. We have enough of everything, except time. What I would give to have more time. The chance to catch the eye of a boy who under the scruff of a few days missed shave had the most charming dimples I’d ever seen. Whose eyes were somehow a mix of the green in my shirt and the blue of the Gulf, and whose clichéd twinkle in that green and that blue, caused me not to care about the tattoo possibility in the least. The boy who—as it turns out—didn’t have tattoos after all, but who left me wondering, intrigued, and just the tiniest bit smitten in those first minutes of meeting—and every minute since.
I can’t remember all of our 11 years. But I can remember enough. And on the days where my head is clear, and my heart is full—and the longer we are together, the more of those days we have—I realize enough doesn’t do our life justice. We have more than enough of the stuff that matters, and enough of the stuff that doesn’t and today, right now, to see our life for what it is, is a grace—and enough for me.