Four years ago, I was dressed in a button down shirt, still no makeup on, getting my hair done with my bridesmaids. I was nineteen, as was my maid of honor. My bridesmaids were eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, and fifteen. We all had long, layered hair down our backs, all but one with basically identical blond highlights, and we all owned Cover Girl Disco Ball eyeshadow. We all had undergone an intense tanning regimen in the week prior to the wedding. We were thin, and pretty, and there was nary a wrinkle or a stretch mark among us.
I was strangely calm all day. I think the only time I felt anything approaching nervousness was when my makeup artist got bumped and stabbed me in the eye with an eyeliner pencil. My eye teared up immediately, and I leaped from the chair in panic, dabbing with Kleenex to make sure the rest of my face didn't get ruined. Other than that, it was a perfect day, unmarred by anything other than perhaps the excessive face and body shimmer/GLITTER I insisted on applying.
I remember feeling beautiful, and blissfully happy, and very sure of my decision. There was no hesitating in the church vestibule, a la Charlotte of Sex and the City. As we stood before the minister, I remember hearing the ceremony only vaguely, but being very very aware of how lucky I felt to have already found the person I wanted to be with forever. During the vows, I don't remember crying or even choking up. I just remember that my face hurt from smiling so hard. But I couldn't have stopped if I'd wanted to.
Four years, three pregnancies, two babies, and one move later, my face still hurts, so to speak. I still sometimes get that pinch-me-I'm-dreaming feeling. (I notice it usually happens now when we're smiling down together on a SLEEPING child.) The years have felt crazy and jam-packed, and I still haven't caught my breath since the honeymoon, but they have without question been the happiest years of my life.
I haven't felt blissful every second. We have each lost two grandparents since our marriage, and have been through several rough patches of pregnancy related scares and health and money issues. Sometimes I've felt frustrated and resentful, frightened and sad. Often I've felt hormonal and pregnant and miserable. Occasionally I've felt furious. And more than once I've felt overwhelmed, misunderstood and unappreciated. I have no doubt but that Jim has felt the same (hormonal and pregnant being the possible exceptions to that rule.)
But more often I have felt cherished and loved. I have been comforted when I was sad, reassured when I was insecure, and refocused when my perspective was lost. I have been complimented when I saw only stretch marks and puffiness, and encouraged when I was stuck in my usual mental patterns of fear and negativity. I have been hugged when I only wanted to lash out, and I have been forced to communicate when I would have preferred to passive-aggressively sulk in a corner.
I have learned to enjoy (some) sports, the outdoors, exercise, beer, and bratwurst, all of which I had loathed prior to marriage. I have left my comfort zone. Mostly, I have liked it. I have learned to worry far less about what other people might possibly be thinking about me. I have learned to relax and enjoy my life as an experience, rather than as some sort of performance which is being judged by an audience of peers. I have learned to care less, and thereby, live more. I rarely think about calories, for instance. I am always forgetting to wash my makeup off- when I even WEAR makeup. I actually own sweatshirts and track pants. I can sort of keep up with sports conversations. I have seen We Own The Night three times, voluntarily. I have evolved.
I can only imagine where four more years will take me. I love you, honey! Happy anniversary!