Alex and I have been married for 7 years today. We were basically babies when we got hitched, the first newlyweds of our college friends. Our family and buddies piled into the Dallas Women’s Forum off Ross Avenue on a very hot day in August, with just a few air conditioner units. Everybody was very cordial while they tried to secretly fan their armpits so that all of our wedding pictures didn’t have pit stains featured prominently.
At my favorite part during the ceremony, Alex and I walked back down the staircase and our friends and families formed a web of arms and hands and prayers. They sent us out into the world armed with love and hope and the awesome responsibility of doing this living for Jesus thing together.
In the seven years since that day, we have had so many adventures. Finding the best apartment complex in Dallas and learning what it means to live in community with neighbors who became our dearest and nearest friends. Doing international student ministry together and figuring out how amazing it is to build a makeshift family with people who are lonely. Buying a house. Training and competing in a half-marathon and a triathlon. Singing the Neti Pot song together. Me tossing a tower of tampons at his face and then burst into tears. Alex spitting in my cupholder and me bursting into tears. Us crashing a knitting party with our male attributes and homeless people clothes. Countless trips and adventures. Some of them awesome. Some of them horrifying… Oh look. Here’s a flashback now.
One of the constants in our marriage is that we know it will rain when I go camping. Every. Dang. Time. One particularly memorable trip, we were camping with my family at a wildlife preserve in Oklahoma and a tornado decided to make its way through our campsite.
In a frenzy that is becoming all too routine on our camping trips, we threw all of our soaking wet stuff in the car, waved goodbye to each other through the rain soaked windows, and started driving home. The drive back to Dallas was uneventful, if not stinky because we were all soaked, including the dog and the tent was starting to get that distinctive mildew smell.
About the time we turned on I-35 to go south, I felt the sudden and immediate urge that I needed to go to the bathroom. Not just a regular need to go to the bathroom, but food-poison-level immediacy. This is a red alert bathroom disaster.
(Let me mention that we were both hungry, as vegetarians have a hard time finding appropriate, delicious food on the road. When Alex is hungry and driving, he has a hard time making a decision about where to exit to eat food. We once drove straight through Kansas, even though we were ravenous, because Alex was in a hunger induced fog. I finally gripped the wheel and steered us towards a weird Kansas Mexican food restaurant that was in an old Long John Silvers.)
So, this time, hungry Alex passed a few exits that would have had, oh I don’t know, at least a hole in the ground and I eventually yelled at him with enough passion that he exited. Unfortunately, it was one of those exits that is super long and just takes you lesiurely along a country road. The gas station might as well have been in Mexico.
Finally, my body indicated that it was do-or-die time. I screamed at Alex to just pull over wherever. The closest pull-in was an abandoned business park.
He flew into the parking lot, threw the car into the park and I opened the door. I looked at him with terror in my eyes.
“How do we do this?”, I exclaimed.
In the next fifteen seconds, we worked out a system where we opened both car doors (for “privacy”), I planted my feet on the edge of the door frame and Alex, my poor, starving husband, held my hands while my naked butt hung over the edge of the car and I let loose the fury that had been boiling within me for the last 10 minutes.
It was the most undignifying thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. You do not know shame until you have diarrhea-ed in the parking lot of an abandoned office building off the I-35 access road while your husband holds your hands and tries to keep your dog from jumping out of the open car doors to wallow in your sorrow and your poop.
All I could wonder was whether some poor realtor was trying to show the abandoned business building to a potential buyer.
Yes, here is the state of the art break room, and across the hall is the conference room that is all wired and ready for presentations. You can see out the window that we have ample parking and easy access to I-35 and….OH MY…What the…. Is that… Disgusting….OH MY…CALL THE POLICE!…WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!… FIND YOUR OWN WAY OUT!….EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!
(realtor leaves a body-shaped hole in the building)
Guys, I know that is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, okay? At the very least, though, it is feasible that there were security cameras recording the property and there is now a youtube video called “Woman Faces Disgrace in an Abandoned I-35 Parking Lot”.
Alex has seen me at my best and God knows the poor guy has seen me at my worst. And that’s the beautiful thing about marriage. We’ve had seven years to get to know each other. Not just the pretty stuff, but the stuff that’s hard to love, the stuff that makes you need to take a deep breath at the end of the day. We’ve had to learn humility and selflessness. Marriage grinds off your rough edges.
If you want the truth, I think it is fitting that we are celebrating our seven year anniversary on the sixth week anniversary of bringing our son home. We started a brand new chapter in this year of our marriage. A chapter where Alex isn’t just a husband, but a father. I get to see him utilize all those years of practicing compassion, patience, and grace with me on this little boy who has become our son.
And I’m falling in love with Alex all over again, this new side of him that I didn’t get to really see before.
I am so thankful for the seven years that Alex and I had together to party and learn and cry and fight and make-up and love and minister and cook and explore. God has been so good to us.
Alex, let’s start this new chapter with a bang, baby. Of course, now that we’re parents, starting our 7th year of marriage with a bang means watching an episode of Modern Family on the couch and passing out. If you’re lucky, I might even hold your hand.
To many more adventures.