A year ago tomorrow, Dave rolled into town in a U-Haul, committed to starting a new life in a new state with some girl he’d known for less than a year. He asked me today what I thought about the last year. I answered in the moment, but I haven’t stopped thinking about the question.
It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve certainly had our moments of “what the hell were you thinking?” directed at one another, but the hard stuff has brought us closer together. Each time we have a difficult conversation, I think we’re both a little amazed at our ability and willingness to talk through things and still like one another – still love one another. Facing challenges together is a new thing for me. I’ve never before had someone who thought the challenges were worth facing with me. Dave seems to think I’m worth the trouble, and I certainly think the same of him. Sometimes we both think it would be easier to walk away, but we aren’t walking. Neither of us wants that.
We’ve had a whole lot of fun this year. Totally on a superficial level, we’ve gone to Iowa and Minnesota to see Dave’s family and our friends, to College Station to see my favorite college student, to Phoenix to see my cousin and her family, to New York for a marathon and to see shows on Broadway, to Roatan to learn about and enjoy that part of the world, and to Coeur d’Alene to spectate perhaps the most beautiful Ironman in North America. We’ve done bike rides and runs all around central Texas. We’ve been to three beautiful weddings. We’ve been country dancing and to a concert at Dell Diamond. We’ve been to various events at Austin City Limits. We’ve explored restaurants and bars and ice cream parlors all around town. It’s been a rich year. We’ve connected with many of my friends and even some of his who have visited from Iowa or, even better, who have moved here recently.
But the best stuff has happened at or around home. We’ve made dinner together. Usually, he’s cooked, and I’ve helped, but I even cooked for him once. We started a garden that admittedly benefited our neighborhood wildlife more than it benefited us, but that didn’t matter all that much. It was the process that we enjoyed. We’ve cared for the lawn, me on the riding mower and Dave with a weed eater, both of us mindful of the spots where he planted sunflowers for me. We’ve discovered our little town together – the art gallery, the dance hall, the coffee shop, the running trail. I lived there for five years and didn’t come upon half of what Dave has exposed me to in that community. We’ve played a decent amount of cribbage and watched some television together, including last night’s The Big Lebowski that we still need to finish. We’ve read. We even had fun once at Home Depot, where Dave took me to a display where I could practice using a drill.
I love our time together at home. I even love our time at home when we aren’t necessarily being together. I love hearing the clicking of a keyboard that isn’t mine. I love smelling food that I’m not cooking. I love hearing a phone conversation that I’m not having. I love the sound of a television show that I’m not watching. I love listening to music that I didn’t turn on. I love the sounds of shared space. I’ve never had that before. Each of those sounds reminds me that I’m loved. Each reminds me that I’m sharing space with one who has committed to doing life with me, even when it’s hard.
A year into our life in Texas together, I still think Dave is the kindest man I’ve ever met. He has a patience about him that I’m certain is not characteristic of anyone in my family, including me. He has a tenderness that comes through both in how he holds my hand and how he talks to me about hard things. He is an encourager about everything – my training, my eating, my writing, my work, my friendships, and even my need for time by myself. He understands people. He sees everything, and he’s consistent about looking at what’s really going on rather than what’s on the surface. I think that’s in large part where is patience comes from. He’s thoughtful in all things, big and little. And that smile? It melts me every single time.
A year in, I’m amazed that he moved as quickly into our relationship as he did. I’m amazed that we jumped into this shared life with less than a year of information and a whole lot of trust. I’m also grateful. I love the last year, every moment of it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.