On this day 14 years ago, Robert and I declared our commitment to one another in front of family and friends and made it official in the court of law. Here are our wedding vows (and scrapbook pages of them). I like to count from the summer we met though, which was 2 years before that. I answered his Prodigy ad on June 14, 1994. We had our first phone conversation later that month, a short call at the end of which Robert asked, “So, do you want to see my face?” On July 3, he drove from L.A. down to San Diego, where we arranged to meet in Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, my favorite bit of San Diego coastline. I said I’d be sitting on a bench reading The Great Gatsby, which I think we chose because we both had copies of the book. I didn’t actually do any reading, though I don’t remember much else about the wait. I clearly remember, however, turning my head in time to see him heading straight for me. I hadn’t seen a picture of him, but somehow I knew it was him. And then he impressed me with his handshake when we said hello.
We spent the next few hours talking over pizza at The Spot and we talked more while walking up and down atop the cliffs above the waves. I showed him the place where I had done the craziest thing of my life a couple of years before, jumping off a cliff into the ocean (a lot of other people were doing it too! LOL) and it was his turn to be impressed. We listened to someone playing a musical instrument I forget now (but Robert could tell me! he’s the musical one!) and we danced. We had our first kiss. Our love grew fast that summer. But I had no doubts. I went with the flow. Just I like I would several years later, giving birth to our children. I knew somewhere deep inside that things were going as they should, that we belong together, as if we had always been together. Robert has often said, “Everything happens at once.” So we have always been together. I didn’t consciously express this feeling very soon, but when, that October, he spontaneously asked me to marry him, I had no hesitation before I said yes.
We have not been without trials. But we share some values upon which both of us place great importance. One of these values is commitment to our relationship. We’ve talked about this (and everything else) quite a lot over the years. Those discussions themselves are another of the things we both value and I think it has strengthened our relationship. Our relationship began in written words. As it grew, most of our communication was in writing. We did drive between L.A. and San Diego awfully often, but we emailed each other almost every day. And we had great discussions in those emails too. They were not just “How are you? What have you been up to?” exchanges. In our weekends together, while I finished up my teaching credential, we had many philosophical discussions. We talked about everything. We still have discussions. Not as often as when we were just the two of us, but whenever we can. There were times that we let ourselves too be too busy and would go too long without a good discussion, which led to a terrible feeling of disconnect. Since we realized that, we try not to let that happen anymore.
Another factor in the strength of our relationship is that we spent 7 years together before we had kids. I’m sure that it is possible to have strong relationship if you do have kids right away, but in retrospect, those 7 years feel like a strong, solid foundation holding us secure through the rocky moments of life, especially as parenting is something no one can be fully prepared for. We have to figure it out as we go along, finding that many perceptions we had before kids don’t work out the way we imagined, and discovering things about which we had no idea. I did say, just before we decided to start trying to conceive our first child, “Now I’m ready to devote a couple of decades to children.” So I had a clue, though it has been even more intense than I imagined. Still, during tough times over our last 9 years of parenting, I never doubted Robert’s love, regard, and respect for me, and I think he felt the same. And I think that is because we spent so many years finding out who we are as a couple and individuals first.
So how are we celebrating? Well, we didn’t plan anything. That’s typical for us, and it’s okay with me. This blog entry is my gift to him. I have a scrapbook page in my head too, that will someday become a reality. I think he’d like to take me out more, but neither of us pay great tribute to traditions that cost money, or concern ourselves with precise dates. Valentines Day is for Hallmark. I like to mark anniversaries on my calendar, but I don’t care what date we actually observe them. As for how we celebrate them, what do I care about flowers, jewelry, or fancy dinners? Robert gives me gifts like unconditional love, sincere respect, honest emotional support, good humor, a terrific father for our children, … I don’t want to end the sentence because I don’t want to leave anything out! I hope I offer him similar gifts — I’m not sure I’m as good at it as he is, though he has thanked me many times — but one thing I know for sure is that he inspires me to do better in many things.
Thank you, Robert! I love you.