April 17, 2012

The Luckiest

365 days ago, I woke up on my then-fiance's side of the bed. I slipped out quietly, trying hard not to wake my best friend M, who was still sound asleep, and laced up my running shoes. I made it through exactly 3.58 miles that morning before my nervous stomach and impatience got the better of me.
M and I drove through a huge downpour to meet my mom for breakfast, and then headed off for manicures and pedicures. We stopped downtown so I could check into a hotel room and stock the fridge with champagne, and made it back to my apartment ahead of schedule, leaving me an extra hour to occupy my anxious energy. I did the only thing I could think of... I cleaned the bathroom.
Hours later, as we drove through yet another thunderstorm in a desperate attempt to arrive on time, I muttered four words that made everyone else in the car roll their eyes: "I have to pee." Despite my mom's best efforts to convince me that I could wait, I was insistent. "Just stop at McDonalds," I pleaded, "there's one right there on the corner and I swear I will be fast." It was my stepmom who took issue with that solution -- "You are NOT going into a McDonalds bathroom in that dress," she warned. Instead, we swung into the parking lot of one of our favorite local restaurants and M held an umbrella while we darted inside. The high schooler at the hostess stand looked at us like we might have lost our minds, but luckily didn't try to stop us. As I stepped out to wash my hands, I looked in the mirror and burst into tears. M gave me a big hug, told me she loved me, fixed my eyeliner, and pulled me back out into the rain.
When we finally drove in, I caught a glimpse of my dad that is to this day the first image I see whenever I think of him. There he stood, in the middle of the parking lot, under a huge umbrella as the rain fell and puddled around his dress shoes. Normally a rather stoic and serious guy, the grin on his face that day was like nothing I had seen before. After one last dash through the storm, I switched my rainbow sandals for white heels, took a deep breath, and Dad and I headed inside.
The rest of the day was a blur of family, hugs, photo ops, and cupcakes. It was simple but perfect, small but sweet, brief but everything I had hoped. As excited as I am to wear a real wedding dress, dance with my husband, and celebrate with all of our friends in just a few months, the memory of our original little ceremony will always hold a very special place in my heart. One year ago today, I officially became the wife of a sweet, wonderful guy who loves me and puts up with everything I throw at him, and I honestly couldn't ask for a better reason to celebrate.
The past 365 days have not been easy. We have spent 210 of those days apart. Between the two of us, we have traveled over 7,500 miles away from each other... but luckily, we have also traveled over 7,500 miles to be together again. In the past year, we adopted a crazy puppy, rearranged our living room, explored several new cities, made lifelong friends, and got in a few arguments, but always figured out how to make each other smile again. Together, we supported each other through a deployment, the serious injury of a brother, and the loss of a parent. We adjusted to living on different continents, and then adjusted again to living under the same roof (both came with their own challenges). It has not been an easy first year, but today, having reached the end, I can truly say that I know him and love him even better than I did the day we got married. I could not be any luckier.



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