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Three

Three years ago, I made a bold move.

You see, I’d been seeing this guy for a couple of months.  We saw each other at least weekly and texted a lot.  He had made me dinner at his place, and we kissed for the first time the week before this date three years ago. 

So three years ago, I went to his apartment.  I don’t remember what we did—probably watched a movie or something.  He watched more movies with me in those first couple of months of dating than we probably have since.  I’m a movie-watcher; he’s a TV-watcher.  But as I sat next to him in an oversized chair while his barely-out-of-puppy-stage one-and-a-half year old dog lay curled up on the couch next to us, I blurted it out.

Me:  Do you want to come to my mom’s family’s Christmas celebration with me? 

Him:  When is it?

I told him.  He thought it over and agreed.  We went back to what we were doing.  And then:

Him:  If I’m going to Christmas with you, that probably means you’re my girlfriend, right?

Me, smiling:  Yeah, I guess so.

Three years ago, I started officially dating the last guy I’ll ever date, God willing.  Three years ago, my husband asked me to be his girlfriend after I invited him to join me at a family Christmas celebration.  Three years ago, my life changed.

Our first picture together, taken at the aforementioned Christmas celebration. We look like babies.

Our first picture together, taken at the aforementioned Christmas celebration. We look like babies.

I know that, once you’re married, you’re not really supposed to celebrate your dating anniversary anymore.  There’s a new anniversary now, a wedding anniversary.  But I have trouble leaving out the years that led up to marriage.  We’ve changed so much, grown so much.  We are different versions of the same people who cuddled in an oversized chair together watching some movie or another. 

When we first met, I remember him telling me that he wanted to get his Master’s degree someday.  He’d wanted to since he first left college, but he hadn’t taken the time to figure out how to make it possible.  And I told him that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, that I had left a PhD program feeling completely lost.  I liked to write, but I didn’t know how to get an audience.  I had written a book, and people had read it and given me feedback, but I didn’t know where to go from there.  He encouraged me.  I encouraged him.

And now we’re here.  I’m sitting on the couch in the tiny apartment that we share in Texas.  He is sitting at the desk in the same room working on homework for his Master’s degree, every once and a while asking me how to spell words.  I have my own Master’s degree, too—I guess I found my way, at least for now.  That same rambunctious dog has mellowed out a bit; he’s curled up next to me on the couch, dozing off to the sound of me typing.  Our apartment is a mess, and there is dog hair balled up in all of the nooks and crannies, but that’s okay.  We have each other.  We are here. 

Three years ago, I wasn’t sure where things were going.  I felt like a feather floating through the air, blowing in the breeze, with nothing holding me down or anchoring me anywhere.  And then I met him.  It was like he caught me, plucking me out of the air and holding onto me until I was able to figure out what I wanted out of life.  He held onto me when I felt the breeze pick up later, and now I’m anchoring him while he works and goes to school and is challenged.

I couldn’t have asked for a better companion in this life.  I got lucky in meeting him when I did.  I am so lucky.

I love you, H.  Happy dating anniversary.

-A.

By now, I should have been broken on the rocks of rising life’s ocean. Just another ship lost at sea. By now I should have been scattered in the wind of my lonesome travels like a thousand dandelion seeds. And I should have come unraveled at the seams like a well-worn sweater, but you hold me together.
— Dierks Bentley

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