• year-nine

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    Year Nine

    01.21.2015 / FAMILY

    There was a time when the cookie sheets were not burnt and rusty, when the diamond was new, shiny, sparkling. We were young, and tan, and overly analytical. After we married, we disagreed about whether or not we should paint the walls in our Los Angeles apartment satin or eggshell. Both, we’d decided, and we slept the next year surrounded in two terrible finishes of purple – happily unhappy but deeply committed to our paint chip compromise.

    And then, as it does, life gave us new disagreements – ones that did not lend themselves to compromise. Indiana or California? His job or mine? Kids? Adoption? Home birth?

    There were no compromises; no gray areas to tiptoe or experiment with, no fence to straddle.

    There is nothing fair about life, and there is nothing fair about love. There is no method or formula to happiness, except to choose – each and every day – to allow yourself the circumstances you are offered. To welcome them and feel them and search for the beauty in the burnt cookie sheets.

    And over our years together – ten in October – we have adventured on every park apparatus we know: on the seesaw, giving and taking and giving again. On the merry-go-round, spinning faster, wild, blurred, toward corporate goals we never intended to pursue. Off the merry-go-round, and promptly. We’ve climbed the rusty ladder of hard entrepreneurial work, slid down the hot metal slide of shared grief. We’ve crossed the monkey bars into parenthood – learning as we go – one rung, then two. We have swung high and low, up and down, pumping our legs to a soundless rhythm we cannot hear or see, but can feel.

    Year nine is this: unrolling the gingham blanket and laying down in porcupine grass. There is rest and cloud-watching and dream-telling and quiet. It is he with his sacked lunch and I with mine, neither of us seeking to change the contents of each others’ brown paper bag. We feed ourselves in harmony – he’ll choose strawberries, I’ll choose almonds – and the difference is okay. It’s good. We are happy as two, so we are happy as one.

    Year nine is long enough to let go of the idea that you have the rest of your life to slowly, surely change your spouse, and instead, accepting – embracing – the changes your spouse has created in you.

    Year nine is long enough to own your contribution to the pair, to learn to take care of yourself to learn to take care of another. It is seeking responsibility for your joy, your fulfillment, your being. It is understanding that the goal of two is to become stronger than one. Woven. Molded. Sealed.

    Year nine is to grow into ourselves, to stop allowing circumstance or trial or emotion to diminish our spirits, and instead, to stretch far beyond the scratchy blanket and the picnic ants and rise above the rooted trees surrounding us. It is to plant, and to be planted.

    To look above and greet the sun, and hear the rain, and feel the clouds, and return to the strawberries, the almonds, the two.

    • Happy 9th, Erin and Ken! May you have many more, and lots of cookie breaks in between.

    • i so enjoy your writing. I’ve been reading for a while and I appreciate it.

    • Ahsamon

      So beautifully written! Thank you for sharing. :)

    • Conny

      It warms my heart to hear this today. Happy Anniversary to you both, separate and one.

      • Oh thank you sweet Conny! It’s not our anniversary; I just felt compelled to write about marriage. But thank you for the well wishes!

    • Love this…. really, really love this!

    • Melissa

      Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • I love how in marriage, you see how different you are from one another. It changes everything when you realize the other isn’t wrong, just different.

    • Beautifully written, Erin.
      My husband and I are on year 6, though we started dating at 14, so I could say we’re on year 13 (almost half our lives?!). Since we grew up together, in some ways we became very similar, but the differences still show up daily. Even more so now that we have a daughter, and we can pick out her tendencies as being “like mom” or “like dad.” Amazing how kids shine new light on things like that.

      • Ha, I totally agree, Melissa! And I love that you were childhood sweethearts! :)

    • Happy Anniversary Erin & Ken!
      Thank you for posting this, it came at a perfect time, I’m still a newlywed I think (in our 2nd year) and some days things are hard. It’s so nice and refreshing to hear your calm and centered point of view and it was just what I needed to read today.

      • Ah, thank you, Jackie! From our perspective, the first and second year were the hardest. It can only go up from here! :)

    • Hi!

      I love the way your words rambled out. Thank you for sharing. I have started a new series called The Third Rail as a place to discuss marriage and relationship. If you’d ever like to contribute your words, please contact me. Thanks!

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