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Strawberry Pie

The week of our anniversary, we went to visit Michael’s mother in her home – not his childhood home, his parents didn’t buy this house until the summer before his senior year in high school, but he did live in this house, and it was a really big deal for me to visit his mom in her home, where he once lived, because we’ve been together for nearly eight years and I’d never even seen a baby picture of him.

You can tell what a big deal it was because that entire paragraph turned into one giant run-on sentence.

You see, Mike’s mother lives out of state and for one reason or another, we’ve never been able to visit her. She’s visited us several times, but we’d never been able to visit her. In fact, Mike hadn’t been home at all in eleven years. It was time.

We stayed for three days and we didn’t leave the house except once to swing by the supermarket. Instead of running around doing stuff, we spent all three days pouring over old family photo albums. Actually, Mike studied for micro-biology while his mother and I poured over old family photo albums. I was absolutely in heaven. I got to look through Michael’s baby book – his baby book! I saw his first lock of hair from his first haircut and the hospital bracelet he came home in and the very first penny he ever found and picked up for good luck. You guys. The happiness almost killed me.

And the photo albums! There were pictures of all of his Halloween costumes – he was Chewbaca two years in a row and if you saw this costume you would die itissoadorable. There were pictures of his first Christmas and every Christmas after. Snapshots from his birthday parties and his first steps and all these beautiful, happy, perfect memories caught in tiny squares of faded paper like so many pressed rose petals.

It’s funny because I was secretly a little sad that our anniversary trip was a trip to visit family. Not that I wasn’t delighted to be visiting family because I was. I planned this trip and looked forward to it for months. Just that, you know, it was our five-year wedding anniversary, it would have been nice to go somewhere romantic and alone. But as it turned out, this quality time with family was exactly what we needed.

I want to know Michael. I want to understand everything about him. I want to know him better than anyone in the world. I wish I could go back in time and be a fly on the wall at his sixth birthday party. Or I wish I could have been his favorite toy – his little velveteen rabbit. It drove me crazy that we’d been together for so long, but I’d never even seen one of his baby pictures. There was this chunk of his past that was a complete mystery to me. I’d ask him questions about his childhood and he’d look at me like I was crazy and say, “How am I supposed to remember that?” But now I know he had tin-soldier wallpaper and a birthday cake shaped like the Easter bunny. I’ve seen his lego towers and his cat Snowball. I’ve read his birth announcement and flipped through his parents’ wedding album. Pieces of him, however small they may be.

The visit was also an extraordinary opportunity for me and my mother-in-law to bond over the greatest thing we have in common – the tall, handsome, funny, smart, strong, kind of nerdy man we both love. I got to gush over pictures of her towheaded, blue-eyed baby boy while she took a leisurely stroll down memory lane. She told the most wonderful stories about my husband’s childhood and of her own life, before he was born. I’m still kicking myself because we didn’t bring our digital recorder. It would have been incredible to record these family stories. (Remind me to tell you about three-year-old Mike and the inflatable bunny.) One night his Aunt and Uncle joined us for dinner – I had never met them before and they were the absolute loveliest people – and it was such fun to hear Mike’s mother and her big brother reminiscing about their childhood. You guys, it was amazing. It was the best time ever.

I don’t know how to put into words why this experience – this chance to peek into a part of my husband’s past – was so important to me. Before the trip, I loved Michael more than I ever knew I was capable of loving someone. But after the trip? Afterwards I couldn’t believe how much more I loved him. It was as if my heart grew three sizes bigger and all the extra, new space was filled up with Michael.

This post was supposed to be a post with a recipe for my mother-in-law’s awesome strawberry pie, but I got a little carried away talking about our wonderful anniversary/family trip, and now you’ve probably thrown-up in your mouth at least three times (because really? No one wants to hear a married lady gush about her husband) so I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. And now you have something to look forward to! You’re welcome.

I go weak in the knees

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Gettysburg, 2008

When I was a little girl and I’d overhear someone talk about falling in love, I’d always ask the same question: How did you know?  Responses varied slightly, but the general consensus was that you just did.  You just knew.

You just knew?  Knew what?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Then one autumn night a couple of months after I’d started dating Michael, while I was folding costumes backstage after a rehearsal and thinking about how badly I just wanted to flee the theatre and fly across the 101 and be in his arms again, I suddenly just knew.  It happened in an instant and it took my breath away and the costumes fell from my arms as I reached out to steady myself because I’d almost fallen over.  And I started crying because the vision, the dream in which I saw our woven lives spread out before me was suddenly the most precious, beloved dream I’d ever had.

Happy Anniversary, Michael.  It gets better every year.