For Mother’s Day I wanted to do something really special for our grandmothers (my husband, Roy’s, and mine). I had the “brilliant” (OMG it became such a thing it didn’t need to become, but it’s over now ) idea to put together a very special photo album since they both live far away and we can’t talk on the phone with either of them (due to hearing loss, etc.) and it’s not like either of them have a computer, so internet is out. I thought it would be perfect…
When we found an album we both liked, we were both kind of like… wait. Because it held 200 photos!
ME: We don’t have to fill it up. [LIAR!] Or we could write out favorite memories or something in the spots instead, or it can just be something they have to fill.
For the record we did the 200 photos. And there were different pictures in each. Sure a lot of special pictures of our engagement, wedding, the holidays and various trips/vacations were the same, but there were also a lot of special pictures in each. For Roy’s grandmother we included pictures of her as well as Roy’s parents by themselves, while my grandmother got shots of my siblings and I even included two pictures of my mother as a good gesture, and for her. (I have written about my mother countless times; she was terribly abusive and is not in my life anymore.)
But when it was all over, I realized something. After days of going through pictures of the last five years, I had several recurring thoughts. Some were lessons, both funny and sad and others were things I already knew, but it’s nice to have a gentle nudge of a reminder anyway.
1. MY GOD WE WERE YOUNG!
I’m sorry, but that one really did deserve ALL CAPS. I don’t think Roy or I look particularly old, but when I looked at pictures of us in Italy (May 2011) or our engagement pictures (April, May 2012) or pictures from our wedding and mini-moon in the Bahamas (June 2012) I just kept thinking: “God we were young.” Or “We look so young!” “I don’t remember looking that young.” “OMG, Roy looks so young.”
It’s been a very full five years. Traveling all over the world, getting married, buying a house and moving across country, having a horrible year that tested us both as people and as a couple, personal triumphs and heartaches, medical blows on my end in the form of a new nagging diagnosis (bone marrow disorder requiring treatments every few weeks) and a couple of brain surgeries (no really, actual cut-your-skull-open stuff) and Roy dealing with my medical stuff (hey, I’ve had three decades to learn how to cope, he’s the newbie and of course there is a learning curve) and well… we got older. And we look older.
It’s not so much about looking weathered. I think I still look all right for my age, and Roy definitely looks good (he’s going to age well anyway, I have to keep up my youthful looks as long as I can though, because I will not), but when I look at us earlier I just think, “We were babies!” When in actuality I was 26-27 and he was 33-35. But yeah, we had no idea how easy we had it back then, and I almost want to laugh at saying that because I don’t think I’ve ever known “easy”. But there it is.
2. We NEED to leave the country ASAP.
Laugh if you want, but I am SO serious. Going through pictures made me realize something – we seemed happiest (both from looking at the photos, but also going through the memories each photo triggered) when we were traveling abroad. It has nothing to do with vacations. My husband and I have both surprised each other with romantic getaways and I have even “kidnapped” him a time or two for longer excursions. Each time we do this, it’s like a recharge. The rest of the world falls away and it’s just us again, and when it’s just us we’re good. No worries about house crap or work crap or feeling the pressure of starting a family or obligations to anyone else. Every trip we’re at our “happiest” but it is our trips to Italy and the Bahamas where our joy seems to radiate rather than just pulse brightly.
Granted our trip to Italy was Italy, but also our first trip together as a couple. It was so huge beyond geography. We were still in our “honeymoon” stages as a couple, I met his parents, it was Italy. Did I mention it was Italy? But seriously.
And the Bahamas was our actual mini-honeymoon (three days was all we could take off) so obviously that is beyond special. But we were reeling from wedding drama (my mother tried to punch the photographer without having a single drink and caused such a scene at our reception that a quarter of the guests left. I was actually impressed she was so well-behaved) so while we were riding high, there was still all this fresh hurt and small pit of badness. This was the final straw for me and I cut her out of my life. So the day I got married was also the anniversary of having no contact with the woman who gave me life. It’s a mixed bag. But still, when it’s Roy and I – where we’re able to forget the rest of the world, it’s just magical. It’s like we’re always the only two people in the world to one another, and real life or local trips/family visits we’re fighting that urge to retreat into one another. To have it only be the two of us. Maybe we just need greater escapes for it to be this way. Or maybe we really do need to be on foreign soil. 😉
Where to next? Well if I had my way it would be Greece or France. Roy’s way it would be South America (specifically Peru, he’s really into the archeology down there) or Australia, but he also really wants to do Costa Rica. But I can safely say that wherever we end up going for our next trip abroad we’ll love it. I would be happy with any of Roy’s picks and I know he’d be happy with mine. Maybe we’ll finally do a full-fledged honeymoon sometime. 😉
3. Home Is Where The Heart Is/We Are All We Need/Love Is Everything
I couldn’t really settle on the best sappy cliché but any and all of the above work just fine. Because going through these pictures made me aware of just how lucky we are. We met almost by chance. Roy said he knew immediately that I was it. I took a little bit longer, but I knew immediately that he was different and special in a way I didn’t quite grasp at the time.
But I just kept thinking, looking at these photos, “God, I love this man.” “God he loves me – what’s wrong with him?” “We were so happy then. We are still so happy, now.”
This book was to share our lives and the family we have created with two very important women. I look through the book though, and realize: This is us. We’re a family. We’re happy. We’re it.
Roy wants to do an album for us, and he hates that sort of thing, so I think he caught it too. He is my home, my safe space, all that I need, and I know that no matter what happens, we can get through anything. And the only thing that is that unstoppable? Love, baby. It’s all about the love. 😀