We survived

This morning was pretty brutal. The snow gave way to bitter cold temperatures, but we still had to shovel our way out of the driveway in order to get to work. Just as Mike finished scooping the edge of the driveway, a plow came by and buried it again. And again, and again, about five more times. It was so ridiculous, it just became funny. Luckily a neighbor came by with his snowblower and rescued us.

It was pretty nice to have a snow day yesterday, though. I got caught up on a lot of projects, including more tiny sweaters!

This weekend we are off to Wisconsin to celebrate Christmas with Mike’s family. Then over actual Christmas we’ll do round two with my family. How do you divide things up for holidays? I’m always curious how other people handle it.

Reasons to live together: pancakes

In case you were wondering what happened to those farmers market blueberries, they went into Mike’s buttermilk pancakes this morning. I would call them purpleberries at that point, and they were like little molten balls that exploded in your mouth. Yum.

I also ate a bunch of them plain after I ran this morning (woo hoo, I ran!).

Mike also helped me find my iPod after I went frantically searching through the house for it. It was, of course, smashed up against the side of the box where I always keep it and had searched through several times already.

Four years

“Either I’m really sleepy, or the bobblehead on this desk is spontaneously nodding at me.”

That’s how it all started.

Almost five years ago now I had taken Mike’s job when he moved to Pittsburg. A few months later when he returned in a different job, we talked every once in a while, but still hadn’t really connected.

Then one morning at work that message popped up in my inbox. I wasn’t expecting Mike to even be there, as he worked 4-midnight most days. But he was doing a special daytime shift across the room where I couldn’t see him. And for some reason, he decided to e-mail me. Boredom, I suspect. And curiosity.

I already felt an attraction, so this message was a step in the right direction for me.

“If it starts to talk, run…” I replied.

Four messages later, we had a date.

Four years later we’re still together. We’ve outlasted our previous relationship lengths, but that’s not really the point. Getting to this point was more difficult than I ever believed it would be. Full of challenges beyond our control, and some of our own doing. But it still feels good, and still feels right.

It doesn’t surprise me AT ALL that the night we were supposed to celebrate our anniversary by going to Iowa City for a concert, Iowa City was under feet of water and Iowa was in full-on disaster mode. I don’t think either one of us was in a celebrating mood at that point.

So we did what we have learned to do so well — roll with it. We decided on dinner at a new local restaurant instead. It was fabulous and we brought out our inner foodie geeks to examine each course. By the end of dinner, rain gave way to a rainbow framing the Capitol.

No one really writes love letters anymore, but I did save all the emails from our first week together. That’s probably the real reason I remember what day it was (the time stamps). Looking back it seems insane that by our second date we felt like a couple and by the second week we were dropping the L word. But I guess you feel what you feel when you feel it. Others have told me similar stories.

What we have now is much deeper, a respect we have for each other based on all we’ve been through together. When you find yourself running to the pharmacy because your partner has unexplainable hiccups or yanking gobs of their hair out of a clogged tub, you realize that the best part about being in love isn’t the giddiness, but knowing that someone would actually do that for you.

So, here’s to four years of adventures in love, and lots more to come.

Realizing love isn’t enough

As much as I’ve always been independent and always wanted to figure things out for myself, I’ve also always been a lover, a romantic, a little too emotional for my own good. It pains me to say that, but it’s true. In high school, long before I figured out most of the guys I had crushes on were douchebags, nothing made me more excited than the thought of getting their attention. Since I never actually had the guy I wanted, I figured that once I did, everything would be okay.

And I pretty much carried that attitude through college, too. Even as I learned more about myself and what I wanted, I still believed that once you found the right person, your happiness would be pretty much sealed. All you would have to do is meet that person and get together, and the force of your connection would carry you through.

Man was that a load of crap.

I am unbelievably lucky to have found my person when I did. I found someone who I connected with instantly (well, five years and instantly), and we had all those five-hour, me-too! conversations, the sexual tension, the feeling of sureness. It’s an incredible feeling.

But what it took me four more years to realize, what I honestly did not get until I was 27, is that relationships are work. Falling in love, feeling sure is just the beginning of your journey. You will be tested time and time again, only it won’t be about your love or your attraction. It will be about your patience, your selflessness, your communication skills. Your ability to watch “Mythbusters” hours on end. You will have to learn for yourself what is asking for what you need and what is meeting the other person halfway. It’s hard, it’s really hard. I’ve fought myself so many times, wondering if I would be strong enough to give up a job so that Mike could satisfy a dream. Could I not buy something I wanted so that we could save for something important? Could I stop being just me and be us? But still be me?

I didn’t realize I would be tested so quickly and so intensely in our relationship, but I’m grateful for it now. We spent almost a year apart. A year! All those nights we could have been growing apart we chose to grow together, and that means a lot to me. Who knew we’d be looking at a layoff, a major surgery, a rescued dog that needed more that we were prepared to give? Life happens.

At some point, when we’d made it through all of that and could breathe again, I realized that love was never enough to get us here. We got here because we finally decided we’d found someone worth all that trouble, and we stuck around for it.

I wish I could go back and tell high school me that passion is important, but it isn’t what will save you at the end of the day. It’s commitment and faith and maturity and selflessness on top of love that carry you through a relationship. It’s not the person that’s hot for you that matters; it’s the person that will throw himself in front of a bus for you.

When I think about my grandmother shampooing my grandfather’s hair in the sink or riding the bus everyday to be with him at the nursing home, to fight for him when he couldn’t, I understand why they made it through 55 years of marriage. They knew that this love story would not have a fairy tale ending, but that they would get through it anyway.

I don’t know how we will make it through the hardest days, but I know that we are here and we want to try. We are lovers and then some. We will do this thing.

Relief

This conversation yesterday was priceless. Mike had just come home from soccer and I was sitting in front of my computer (shocker).

Me: We need to talk.

Mike (with extremely concerned expression): Okayyyy. What is it?

Me: We have got to do something about the toilet.

Mike: Oh. Ha! I thought you were going to say you were pregnant. Whew!

Me: No. The toilet is just not flushing right at all.