It's pretty early in the morning. There is a dense fog hanging over the mountains - I can't see anything except the houses immediately across the street. I'm drinking a hot cup of coffee that my husband made for me, because he always does that when he wakes up before I do (which is *cough* every morning *cough*). The only sound I can hear are birds chirping somewhere in the mist, and the "click click click" of my dog's feet as he wanders through the the house downstairs trying to figure out where I am.
(He found me. He is now preventing me from writing this post because he wants to be in my lap. He is not a lap dog.)
Okay, he's satisfied. Now sleeping at my feet.
In many ways, the view this morning perfectly represents year two of my marriage. I have no idea what's "out there," but my corner of the world feels cozy and insulated and safe.
We celebrated our first anniversary almost exactly a month after we moved to Asheville last year. Now, celebrating our second, we have been here for just over a year. The saying is true - the days are long, but the years are short. Where does time go?!
Before moving here, I'd always lived in Alabama. Sure, I did little stints elsewhere - a year in Memphis, a couple of months in DC, a couple studying abroad - but this time, I actually bought a license plate that says "North Carolina." Because we're here for the foreseeable future, I think. Which is really weird, and really exciting.
When we moved here, I stopped working full-time. Prior to living in NC, I'd had full time jobs in the nonprofit sector working toward education reform. I haven't left that field completely, but I wanted to stretch my creative legs and see where it took me. Because I wasn't going into an office every day, I spent the first several months we lived here largely by myself. Looking back, I feel like I should have been much more lonely than I was; the reason I wasn't is because of the man sitting downstairs on the front porch reading a dental magazine (if you're interested in reading about dentistry, please come to our house and steal up to 1,000 of the 1,000,000 freakin' magazines that get mailed here weekly).
Confession: before I got married, I always thought it was kind of gross when people called their spouse their "best friend."
That's your best friend? I thought. Don't you have real friends? Don't mix church and state. That's your spouse, not your friend.
I vividly remember a conversation right before Jordan and I got married in which I told a girlfriend of mine in Memphis that Jordan was definitively NOT my best friend. He was my fiancé. To me, those were different. Jordan, on the other hand, was sure that I was his best friend. I felt a little guilty, but I stuck to my guns. Friends were friends. Husbands were husbands.
Isn't it great to look back at yourself and think, "Wow, you were such a dummy. I'm so glad you learned some things!"? I think so.
It took this move for me to realize that friendship - deep, understanding, soul-bearing friendship - is at the heart of a great marriage. And now, most days when Jordan leaves for work, I say, "I love you! You're my best friend!" And he still (thank goodness) returns the sentiment.
Our first year of marriage was peppered with small challenges, most of them based in Jordan's residency and his countless hours of back-breaking work. Despite his schedule, it was certainly not a tough year, all things considered.
This year hasn't been tough either - or, at least, it hasn't been unpleasant. But putting at least 5 hours between everything and everyone that's familiar to us has made the emotional roller coaster that is my life take dips and twists that are much more intense, much more thrilling and scarier, than ever before. Moving away is an adventure, but it also involves a little bit of mourning the life that you leave behind.
This is my long-winded way (because, when it comes to me, is there any other kind?) of saying that I have never been more in love with my husband than I am today.
This year, Year Two, Jordan has seen me at my most vulnerable and my least self-possessed. Not going to a job every day gave me time to think about what it is I'm doing on this planet, which, of course, led to a lot of self-doubt. In fact, this blog was born from such doubts and is my daily way of overcoming my fear of being unproductive.
Through all of these moments - from the small triumphs of making a friend to the deep bowels of feeling profoundly aimless - my husband has been a rock. Well, really, he's been a rock, and a cheerleading shaker, and a bottle of champagne, and a laugh track, and a pillow, and a cool breeze, and a hiding place, and a safety net. Whatever it was that I needed.
Jordan wakes up happy. He's kind to people, especially those he works with and those he works on. He's sharp as a tack, quick-witted, very funny - funnier than I am, to my deep chagrin (but secret delight - don't tell him I said so). Always playful. He's smart...scary smart. Steel trap smart. Want him on your team at pub trivia smart. He's no-nonsense and straightforward, solutions-oriented in a crisis. He's diligent, thorough, careful, confident. Perfectionistic in the best way. He finishes the DIY projects that I start and abandon. He regularly asks what he can do to help around the house even when he is bone tired. He says, "Thank you," for meals and clean laundry. He is empathic, motivated by helping people and animals who can't help themselves. Loves this earth. Experiences God in nature and doesn't understand the appeal of a city skyline, no matter how many times I explain to him that glittery lights are pretty. He's hard on himself and always improving, moving forward, in each of the roles he plays. He loves my friends. He is patient - good grief, is he ever - and long-suffering EVERY. DAY. He once housed his mother-in-law and his mother-in-law's dog for five straight weeks and didn't utter a word of complaint - instead, he walked through the door every afternoon and asked, "How are my girls doing?" Decent. Does the right thing. Doesn't take sick days. Doesn't complain. Always shows up.
Look, we've all got problems and undesirable traits. Jordan, too. But if looking at someone's character is about what they do in the way of patience and kindness, selflessness and humility, celebration and cool-headedness (haven't I heard this somewhere before?), then he's got character spilling out of his pores.
In Year Three, I will undoubtedly want to kill him at some point. And he will probably want to lock me in a room to let me run out all my energy like a five-year-old at a McDonald's Playplace. C'est la vie. It's part of the gig.
Over the course of me sitting at this computer, typing this post, all the fog has burned away. It's bright, sunny morning. I can see the mountains all around our house, wisps of clouds suspended in the air. It looks like a Bob Ross painting. My dog is snoring down the hall, where he moved to be closer to the air vent. Jordan just came up and asked if I wanted anything else. He meant coffee.
But the answer is, I don't.