In 1999, I creepily knew who you were when I was the manager of the 8th grade boys' basketball team. You were one of the 4 "Hot Guys" that me and my fellow manager kept our eyes on. You were quiet, and I assumed that you were just too cool for me, when in reality you were terrified of girls, and waaaay into Final Fantasy Tactics and Starcraft. If only I knew then, what I know now.
We never talked in those days, but I had my eye on you.
In 2001, you resurfaced. After middle school, you disappeared, and since you were so quiet, no one knew where you went. But, on New Years Eve as we moved into 2001, you reappeared in Christina's basement. Turns out you had gone to the local private school, rather than the public one the rest of us attended. You came with Ryan, who kept in touch with you through sports.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I remember when you walked down the stairs.
In early 2003, we started dating. It was extremely unexpected for me. It was our senior year of high school.
I remember in the few days before you left for college, we hadn't talked about whether we would stay together while at different schools. I asked about it while we were driving aimlessly to that huge warehouse that you used to work at, and your response made it seem like staying together, despite the distance, was the most obvious thing in the world.
When I moved into my Iowa dorm, and I was getting to know my roommates, I told all of them that you were the boy I was going to marry.
In the summer of 2004, we found the distance to be too much. I was insane while at Iowa, and I was miserable to deal with. We spent this summer hanging out, and just having fun, knowing that we were both going into our 2nd year of college single. But still friends.
In 2005, we had a phone conversation where you told me about a new girl that you really liked. I asked too many questions, because I was morbidly curious, and when I got off the phone I was so sad. It was the first time I really admitted to myself that I was still in love with you.
During the summer of 2006, I drove out to Iowa to see your art installation. I was so proud, and walking around on my own (after I had solved your mystery with Nate) I was moved to tears.
On Labor Day of 2006, after a particularly difficult day you called me. I still don't know what clicked, but you told me that you wanted to get back together. You told me you loved me. It was that day that we decided that this was it.
The summer of 2007, we moved in together in a cute little apartment in Iowa. Then we bought a little dog. To this day, I still have no idea how we managed to make it through that summer. Again, I was a miserable person. I had a really hard time coping with moving somewhere where the only person I knew was you, having no job, and being so far from my family. Thanks for not smothering me in my sleep. Seriously. I wouldn't have blamed you.
At midnight of Jan 1, 2008, you asked me to marry you. I said yes. Duh.
On May 30, 2009, we said these things to each other:
Since that second first kiss we shared in front of your U of I apartment, I knew that you were the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. I made a promise to myself that day that I was never going to let you go from my life again. And now here we are standing up in front of all of our family and friends, preparing to step into a new life together and a new level of togetherness. Ashley, you are the most gracious, loving and kind woman I have ever met. I am so fortunate to be the man you have chosen to live with and love. You give everything of yourself to me with selflessness and a kind heart. We laugh endlessly and share a beautiful and secret world filled with tenderness, devotion and caring. You lift my spirits before I even let you know they are hurting. You encourage and support me unwaveringly in everything that I do. You are my partner in crime and my closest, dearest companion. My great love. I am so glad we are sharing our lives with one another, because my life would be so painfully incomplete without you next to me, now and when we are older.
I promise to give you the best of me, to give you all that I have to offer in every way I know how.
I promise to share my life with you, and grow loser to you with each passing day we are together.
I promise to be there for you in any condition, in times of gladness and when times are grim.
I promise to tell you, over and over again, that you are loved and to love you unconditionally, and put yourself before me.
I promise to work everyday to become a better man, better husband, and eventually an excellent father.
I promise to love you, to honor you, to care for you, and to be faithful to you from this day forward, and for the rest of our lives.
I can’t believe I am marrying you today. I’ve loved you since I was 17 years old. I loved you when I knew it was in my best interests not to. I loved you when we were 355 miles apart. And through all that time, I knew that this day would come. However, I am still in complete awe of this moment, and I feel like it is too good to be true. I love that you remember the little things, and that you are like a lumbering, incoherent bear in the morning. I love that you worry whether you will be a good father based on the happiness of the dog, and I love that you are entertained by my whining – because you’re the only man, anywhere, that could possibly feel that way…and that’s why we are meant to be together.
That said -
With hope and optimism, I promise to encourage you to accomplish all the things you dream of. In the face of success, or failure, I will be your loudest supporter. I promise to share my achievements, and to celebrate yours.
Fiercely, I promise to stand by you in the face of adversity, and distress, sadness and disappointment. I promise to defend our marriage, our friendship and our bond. I promise be your partner as we build the life we’re looking so forward to
Unconditionally, I promise to trust you and to love you and to respect you. I promise to honor all of our differences because these are what make us who we are.
Awkwardly, I promise to dance, sing nonsense songs, and make terrible jokes, (In public. At totally inappropriate times. Forever.) As long as you do it with me.
Passionately, I promise to spend my life learning about you and delighting in each new discovery. I promise to share myself with you.
Breathlessly, I promise to be your partner, your lover, your friend and your wife. I promise to bind my life with yours.
Michael, I promise to love you always.
Happy Anniversary, my sweet