Monday, September 14th, 2015
Five years ago, Nathan asked me to be his girl while we were standing outside his car in the Eat n’ Park parking lot. We had eaten pie and talked about who knows what, and then we wandered outside-neither of us wanting to leave just yet. It was still cold in Sewickley. We were both in sweatpants, and I leaned in close to him so that I could capture his warmth. And then it happened. In just those few seconds, I went from “single” to “not single” for the last time in my life. Sixteen year old me definitely didn’t anticipate that this guy with his shaggy hair made crunchy by sweat from football practice would end up my husband.
I remember our first few months of dating so fondly. We used to text each other in the middle of classes and make plans to meet up at our lockers (under the guise of going to the bathroom, of course). We would sneak kisses and hurry back to class feeling so satisfied by our covert lip-locking. Those first few months that you date someone are filled with smiling stupidly at each other and finding any excuse to see one another. Every time Nathan would brush his hand against my arm or kiss my forehead, my whole body would be filled with butterflies.
Perhaps our first years of dating were fueled by raging teenage hormones and a generally naive view of the world, but I am so glad that we got our start within the walls of Quaker Valley High and the protective bubble of Sewickley. We got to grow into adulthood together. I feel as though we kind of beat the odds. Being together in high school was easy. Being thrown into the world of college, far away from the familiars of home, was hard. Wading our way through talking about marriage when we were still teenagers was hard. It is a weird and difficult thing to come home from your freshman year of college and tell your parents that you are gonna get married. You are barely out of the house and able to vote and now you want to jump into the deep end of adulthood. And jump we did. I grabbed that man’s hand and ran off the cliff into the deep, cold water that was planning a wedding and pulling through our first year of marriage. Truth be told, we were doggy-paddling through a lot of it. My head was barely above water there for a while. But Nathan was always there. He was strong and he pulled me up and pulled me along.
If you told sixteen year old me what the next five years would hold, she would have laughed in your face- or maybe she would have run quickly in the other direction of all the things you told her. There have been times in the last five years that I wasn’t sure everything was gonna be okay. Life has a funny way of pouring everything out on you at one time. But perhaps the most beautiful thing about those times, is that I always had Nathan to fall into.
When I look at pictures of us at our junior or senior prom I think, “Wow! How young!”. I feel as if we have grown ten years in the last five. I am in a way different place at twenty-one than I ever imagined I would be. And I am so thankful for that. God has used Nathan and marriage and college and bills and work and life to turn me from a girl to a woman to a wife. I look forward to looking at pictures of us now thirty years from now and thinking, “Wow! How young!”.
Five years ago, Nathan turned me into somebody that was loved unconditionally by someone other than those related to me. He has loved me well every single day since then. When life is hard, I know that I am loved. When we are fighting, I know that I am loved. When I am wrong and mean and angry, I know that I am loved.
A year ago, Nathan turned me into a wife. Learning to love each other as husband and wife has been one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges yet.
I love that man. I love the way that his eyelashes start to droop around his eyes when he is sleepy. I love the way that he pulls me close to him every morning before he leaves for work. I delight in his ability to drive for hours and make me feel like the inside of a car on a road trip is my favorite place to be. I love the way that he encourages my dreams; he has never told me that my dreams must be sacrificed for the sake of his. I especially love the way that he still kisses me on the forehead. And the way he interrupts me when I am cooking dinner so that he can pick me up and put me on the counter and give me kisses. I am grateful for his willingness to work long hours and go to school so that we always have enough in the bank.
It is my desire that as one September fourteenth passes, and another one approaches, that I would be deserving of the love and the relationship that I have been so profoundly blessed with. You (hopefully) only get one spouse. One partner until death do you part. I want to cherish that and nurture it. I want to be a wife that encourages and loves with every part of herself. I want Nathan to be excited to come home to me. I want to keep laying good foundations for our marriage. As we build a life and a family together, I want to ensure that it keeps getting better and stronger. Twenty, thirty, sixty years from now, I want to look across the table at Nathan and say, “Gosh do I love that man.” Nathan is worth loving and marriage is worth fighting for, and I want to do each in equal and abundant measure.
I married a good one, guys. The Sydney of five years ago totally knew what she was doing when she locked down that football team captain. It has been a wild, passionate, silly, hard, crazy, wonderful half a decade. I can’t wait for a lifetime more.