Forever After

Before Hector and I got married I had started writing letters to him in a journal. It was something a girlfriend of mine had recommended to me in order to capture my feelings towards him leading up to our wedding and also my more private thoughts in regards to *ahem* our wedding night (wink-wink). img_6566

Ten years later and we are still writing in it. There are some years here and there with few to no entries. The years where life sort of piled up and the days, while endless, blew away without much acknowledgement except that we survived. We made a good effort to sit down annually and write down goals for ourselves, for our marriage, and for our kids. We put them in the journal to then reflect on the following year and see which ones we made good on and which ones we didn’t.

Included are also letters of apology and passion, letters of friendship and forgiveness, and letters that encompass what it means to not give up on love. To not give up on each other.

Eliana, my eldest, asked me quite earnestly the other day if her papa and I were ever going to move away from one another. At first I didn’t quite understand her. But as she continued I realized she was asking me if we’d ever have separate houses because of divorce and while she has no clue what divorce is she’s understanding that the majority of her friends live with split households. And she’s wondering when it’s going to happen to her.

I got fairly quiet and pondered for a few moments how I wanted to respond. How I wanted to present our marriage and our commitment and the future in front of us. But also not placate her worried heart with fairytale romantic notions of endless joy and happiness because life is perfect if you only just believe!

But here’s the catch… No one gets married assuming they’ll get divorced. Because why commit to begin with knowing it’ll only end.

So I kept it simple and told her that papa and I are committed to not giving up on each other. That part of the decision in choosing who to marry isn’t just finding someone you love because loving is easy. It’s finding someone who you are willing to forgive. Someone who at their ugliest, even at your own expense or more so especially at your own expense, you can see through to their goodness. Their whole parts not just the broken bits.

Because when you love deep and true and monogamously there is no threshold for pain. Everything hurts when trust is broken.
Everything hurts when you are taken for granted.
Everything hurts when someone stops caring.
Because everything is given to the other. So even the smallest transgressions cause pain and doubt and fear and anger.

You love with your entirety. Heart. Soul. Mind. and Body.

That is marriage.

To give even when nothing is received and to trust even when we fear. We must wake up and look at the day and curse those around us who mean to come between us. Curse the things, the people, and the situations that mean to take what is not theirs. What does not belong nor will or should ever belong to them.

I know that every successful and longstanding marriage has shadows. Darkness settled in amongst the light. Sometimes the darkness is a living, breathing thing that must be battled daily. Other times it’s dormant–tucked away into the corners of buried emotions from our past. Sitting and waiting for an opportunity to be awakened, a slumbering dragon whose only desire is to breathe fire, burn, and destroy.

As we repeatedly choke on the ash.

But that is life. A consistent cycle of light and dark. Good and bad. Joy and pain. For even day turns to night over and over again. It never ends.

I had this whimsical idea of taking Christmas photos in my wedding dress with Hector in a suit and the girls all in fancy dresses. A way to commemorate our tenth anniversary and for us to reflect back on the years we’ve traveled. And all the little people we’ve made along the way. My expectations were to have my hair and makeup done. The girls cute and frilly and the backdrop an open field with the sun going down.

What I got was five minutes of my mother’s gracious time clicking away on my iPhone in front of our garage, where chalk drawings covered most of the floor, my hair three days unwashed and pulled back in a messy bun, Harley (our dog) refusing to not be included, and Eliana embracing her hatred towards all things photo related.

No sunset. No makeup. No gorgeous open field.

But guess what they turned out pretty darn great. They weren’t what I imagined. Not even close, but they are better than nothing. Better than just good enough. And in another twenty years when we celebrate thirty years we can look back and smile and be grateful we have the memory. And thankful that I did in fact still fit in my dress.

One of my favorite closing lines of a movie is from Ever After…

And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.

I am not hoping for a happily ever after in my marriage. But I am working towards a forever after. We started with a day, that we built into a year, that piled into a decade and we are just going to keep on repeating.

Love with your entirety. Heart. Soul. Mind. and Body. That is marriage.

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Broken Together

976656_669110616438080_1721945091_oNine years and four days ago I was unpacking plaid boxers and folding them neatly into an empty dresser. This empty dresser was situated in an empty apartment, with empty kitchen cabinets, bare floors, and blank walls. Hector and I were slowly starting to move things into our first place together and I was giddy with excitement. He was about to become my husband and for some crazy reason being allowed to fold and put away his underwear thrilled me. Probably for two reasons 1) We had never lived together before thus leading into 2) We had never slept together. In honest truth we hadn’t even seen each other naked.

I know. I know. CrAZy. INSANE. Unbelievable. 

But alas, there I was folding the plaids, the stripes, and the ones with tiny little men lifting weights feeling a bit high. It wasn’t even about the sex (although of course that was on my mind–I am human), but it was really more about the togetherness. The not having to say goodbye at night and getting to place our toothbrushes in the same cabinet togetherness. The sleeping in the same bed, sharing the same laundry basket, and buying groceries together. I was completely and utterly enthralled by the sheer thought that I would get to wake up and he’d just be there. Sleeping right next to me.

It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget–a picture imprinted in my memory–my surroundings, the smells, the light streaming in from the bedroom window. It was when I became fully aware of the life-altering role I was embarking upon–becoming his wife.

Fast forward nine years and I’m still folding his boxers. Thankfully most of those have found their way into the trash, but I did keep those ones with the tiny little weight lifters. I wear them to bed every so often. They help remind me: about that moment, our innocence, and the joy we felt about getting married. They are, oddly enough, a very powerful pair of underwear. Continue reading “Broken Together”

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My husband turned 32 yesterday. One of those years that slips by like so many others. He celebrated alone, in a foreign country, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Not one for the books, but one I’m sure he will remember to some degree. The girls’ and I sang him happy birthday over the phone and even had him blow out a candle, but there was no cake to share, no presents exchanged, no balloons or party. It was just another 24 hours marking him a year older.

I asked him several weeks ago what he wanted or if there was anything we could go and do. His reply was quiet and a bit melancholy. “No, not really. I think I’m good.”

Neither one of us are real huge birthday people. We expect each other to acknowledge it in some form and we do celebrate the important decades with more gusto, but generally we go out to dinner and exchange a gift. Nothing too crazy. We like being with our kids and we like enjoying life for its every day value. Holidays are fun, but they don’t fuel us.

Even with that being said I’ve felt strongly for awhile now about wanting to share some words with him. For me, words are one of life’s greatest gifts. If people give me a gift I’m generally most excited about what’s in the card. What they want to share with me. Tell me. Explain to me. A card with nothing but a signature is the ugliest waste of paper. It hurts to see it.

So, I’ve been mulling over so many words this last week. Words of truth. Words of love. Words of pain. All important and necessary and meaningful. I wondered how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself and to what degree my husband would feel comfortable with me sharing this all with you. And you. And you and you. And you. All of you.

So here we go.

This is what I said…

I don’t know what I expected marriage to be when growing up, but this was not it. You were not it. In the beginning–dating, our wedding, the earlier years–everything was perfect. So simple. Flawless even. I thought we were untouchable. When people complained about their husbands I commiserated with the lack of cleaning, the dirty laundry, and the dishes. We all dealt with that. But, when the stories got dark, when things got painful, I was often left feeling lost. I didn’t understand how women could be so angry or how a marriage could already be failing before it even started. Continue reading “Collapse”

Slow Down. Be Patient. Enjoy Life.

Recently I have been plagued with this overwhelming feeling that everything in life is too rushed. I often feel that the world around me (myself included) can be so consumed with tomorrow and what it will bring that we rarely ever stop and enjoy today. The funny thing is that tomorrow never comes. If you are always chasing the future, you will never enjoy your present and once the past is in the past your memories cannot be remade.

I understand that in life we have goals, aspirations, and things you must plan for in order to obtain, but do you allow all of those things to consume you? I imagine that it was the expeditiousness of my daughters first year of life that has me brooding like a 17th century philosopher. Instead of allowing myself to rush forward and accomplish the next thing on my Life To-Do List, I find myself… contemplating my next move with extreme patience, wisdom, dare I say a mild amount of hesitancy and a huge dose of awareness.

So far the life I had planned on having when I was growing up has pretty much been given to me on a silver platter. I realize now that this is something I have taken for granted. When I was in High School my dream was to go to San Diego for college & find a husband. I applied to SDSU, I was accepted and I attended. Met Hector that first weekend. Graduated after 4 years. Married Hector two weeks after graduation. Got my first “real job” two weeks after we were married. Planned to have kids after 4-5 years and our daughter was born almost exactly 4 and 1/2 years later. We own a condo, drive a nice car, rent a house in our “dream” location, live near some of our best friends, vacation as often as possible and for all intents and purposes are extremely smitten with our life. I truly want for nothing.

Yet I have realized that its all too easy to become complacent with the life you have. Even when its mind-blowingly amazing. I find myself all too often trying to keep up with The Joneses and its a completely pointless aspiration because lets be honest there will always be someone out there who has a life that seems to be bigger, better and more wonderful then yours. And your life can be snatched from you in a matter of seconds. Mere seconds and without your approval.

So I find myself refusing to acquiesce to this “ideal” of life. Continue reading “Slow Down. Be Patient. Enjoy Life.”

Snow in San Diego

*2 years ago I started working from home because my employer decided to move to the east coast.
*5 months later I was forced to quit what I thought was the-most-amazing-job-ever.
*3 months after that I was still unemployed and looking for work.
*The next day I found out I was pregnant.
*I spent the following 6 months still looking for a job.
*Then I looked in the mirror and saw why I was more then likely not going to get hired by anyone.
*Non-discrimination laws don’t work.
*3 months later I became a mommy.
*We spent the next 6 months looking for a bigger house to rent.
*Our 600sq foot closet home continued to be our humble abode against our fiercest wishes for a bigger one.
*I cried on a long drive home a few months ago, from Laguna Nigel, because we didn’t get that 7th house we just applied for.  
*A week later at 5am I found out that after being denied our 7th applied house that-happened-to-have-everything-we-could-ever-ask-for-in-a-rental-except-a-dishwasher was now being offered to us.
*2 months ago I got a job writing from home. It was a dream.
*3 weeks after being hired I was laid off. Along with dozens of other writers.
*The next day Eliana started waking up 2-3x a night. It was hell. I think she was teething.
*This continued for 2 weeks.
*Did I mention we had house guests every single day of those 2 weeks.
*Then 5 days ago her first tooth finally broke through.
*For the last 4 nights she has been sleeping 12-13 hours every night.
*During those 2 weeks of hell-I-think-she-might-be-teething-but-its-just-a-theory she wanted to be held all the time.
*Yesterday I held her almost the entire day. Not because she wanted it, but because I needed it.
*And today I find myself sitting in a living room the size of our condo, watching Sesame Street with the most gorgeous child on the planet, listening to the dishwasher (that we didn’t think we were gonna get with this house, but ended up getting because our landlord decided to remodel the entire kitchen before we moved-in) wash the dishes so I can spend more time with Eliana and less time actually washing dishes, while drinking coffee as I contemplate the job that I never knew I could have, but always wanted and then lost, and I see how good life is. In fact its not just good, its superb. It’s beyond superb its exquisite. I have an exquisite life.

Sometimes amazingly good things happen and amazingly bad things happen. In the end its your perspective on how they balance out your opinion on life. So I am thinking today it just might Snow in San Diego. I have seen crazier things happen in my own life. The question is will you view the snow as something bad or something good…