Two years ago this week, we were in Virginia getting ready for our wedding.
It had rained Monday through Thursday and I was trying not to panic about our outdoor ceremony being muddy. It ended up being one of those perfect spring weekends, though, where the rain cools everything down and then clears up and it's 70 degrees and sunny and the whole world smells like fresh-cut grass and rainfall.
This weekend it rained again. We packed. I wrote for hours. We spent two hours loading the car and bringing things over to our new house. And then we returned to the apartment, popped a small bottle of Veuve Clicquot, poured two glasses, and got ready for dinner at Kindred, our favorite place in North Carolina. We ordered drinks and tore into the best bread you could imagine and giggled as our server brought out plate after plate: a beautiful little salad, duck fat potatoes, crispy fried oysters, beef tartare, and homemade pasta.
We left the restaurant in the rain and drove about 15 minutes down the road to where my mom was for the weekend. A quick hug on the sidewalk, and then it was back to Kindred to sit at the bar for a pisco sour and a slice of cake, which came out with a lit candle. I blew it out with Rob's hand in mine and thought about what wishes I could possibly even have at this point.
We have so many changes and transitions coming up that at times it feels like I can't keep my head above water, but we have a happy, healthy family; a sweet pup that brightens our day, exciting job opportunities presenting themselves to us regularly, and; no matter what, each other.
On Sunday we drove over to our new place and I cooked lunch and dinner in the kitchen. Rob sat at the kitchen table watching the NBA Playoff and my mom puttered around, unpacking dishes and folding linens. Ender went in and out as he pleased, frolicking through the fenced-in backyard like he couldn't even believe his luck.
May really can be magical.
I drop Rob off at his office on my way to the barre studio most mornings, and nothing was different about Tuesday until I had to slow down suddenly and the car behind us came barreling through, crashing into us and throwing our car forward violently before stopping in its tracks.
As it was happening I felt suddenly and completely alone, trying to comprehend what was going on and wondering where the sharp pain in my arm was coming from. I didn't know what to do; what had taken place. And then his hand reached for me and I heard his voice snatch me out of the blackness. "Are you okay? Pull over here. Turn on the hazard lights. Stay right there, I'll be back."
And then an hour or two of firefighters stopping by and EMTs asking if we needed to see a doctor, police questions and notes taken down hastily and a wrecker picking up the car that had hit us, which was no longer drive-able. Our bumper hung loose from a corner of the back of our own car and the man driving the truck ripped it off and helped us get it in the trunk and we were able to drive it away.
So there we were, together; my hand in his and the receptionist at urgent care leaning forward from her desk to ask us for our insurance information--"Mr. and Mrs. Peterson?"
It's really rare that we're referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Anything--and really not since our wedding. This was certainly the first time it was uttered under any sort of emergency--not an oh my gosh congratulations, Mrs. Peterson situation but instead the doctor will see you now, Mrs. Peterson.
And I remember thinking right then and there that I wanted to hold on to these memories: of my headache in the waiting area, the way the walls spun around me as we sat in an exam room while the doctor made her rounds through an understaffed facility, of his aching body lying next to my aching body while I fell asleep earlier that afternoon, bruised and sore but safe in his arms.
Because we said "for better or for worse" when we stood in front of our family and friends that sunny evening in May, promising our lives to one another and vowing to be there until the end. And that wasn't the end--not even close--but life can throw some crazy things at you and even when you walk away mostly unharmed, there is all sorts of magic and strength in having someone you love to lean on throughout it all.
We got married a year ago.
There have been good times, bad times, laughter, tears, great food, busy Mondays, lazy weekends, and so many wonderful memories these past 365 days. We moved, we got a dog, Rob got a promotion, my self-employment continued, and we found ways to love each other a little more every single day.
Life with Rob is so good, and I look forward to a beautiful future, but today we're looking back on what was truly one of the happiest days of our lives (so far).
Happy anniversary, Rob--you are my health, my wealth, my happiness.
Last night, after a challenging afternoon with our puppy that ended in me absolutely needing ice cream, Rob came home from a Hornets game and we ended up driving to the Dairy Queen in Plaza Midwood for a late-night dessert.
It was one of those muggy spring nights that feels more like summer than anything else--79 degrees at 9:45 PM, windows down on the highway with the new Death Cab for Cutie album blaring, hair sticking to my damp shoulders. A line around the corner for ice cream and the smell of honeysuckle in the air.
It felt a lot like home.
Lately we've been talking about what our life might look like if Rob had to travel for work, and the other day I had a bit of a breakdown when what had been excitement and opportunity turned temporarily into sadness and frustration: I've worked really hard for this home. We said we wouldn't move again, so we found a running path and a coffee shop and we got a dog and I painted a wall in our bedroom and bought a six-month barre membership. Because we live here.
When we moved here last August and I didn't like it, I pushed through and forced myself to call it home. And it worked--we live here and I like it.
It means something to belong somewhere, even if you have to force it at first.
But I always manage to find pieces of myself everywhere we go. There will be warm nights and chocolate-dipped ice cream cones that remind me of my childhood; and every time I hear Little Wanderer I'll remember that first spring after we were married when we drove around Charlotte for no reason at 10 PM on a Wednesday, breathing in the humid air and wondering what might be next for us.
Whether it's a hotel room in New York City or a house with a front porch and a backyard in Charlotte, home will always be wherever we find ourselves.
Photo by V.A. Photography.