I still remember the moment I knew I was going to marry Keola. We were driving around Kahana Bay on Oʻahu in his little maroon pickup. It didn't have AC, (or a working gas gauge for that matter) so the windows were open and blowing my frizzy hair absolutely everywhere except where I wanted it to be. It was sunny, but the leaves on the trees that lined both sides of the road cast blotted shadows in a rapid game of peek-a-boo between the sunlight and our faces. I had just finished my usual gaze at the "Sleeping Giant," the profile of a large sleeping man visible from the north wall of the valley, a natural formation but I always wondered what his story was. It's one of the markers that as a little girl, was a sign that we were 15 minutes away from our grandparents' home in Lāʻie - one of my very favorite places on earth. The road unfolds over the river, temporarily turning into a too-skinny white bridge and serves as a man-made divide between the valley on the right and the bay on the left. A carpet of needles from old ironwood trees blankets the sand, hiding pinecones like little grenades should you be unlucky enough to step on one with your bare feet. The river mouth that met the ocean always looked dirty to me and I never had any desire to swim in it, but that never stops the local kids in the area from passing every free daylight hour (and beyond) in its' waters, splashing around on old dingies, canoes and makeshift rafts, swinging from branches, seeing who could make the biggest splash. It's one of those places that never seems to change.
We were just passing the river mouth as I leaned my head on his shoulder. I glanced up at him (probably belting the wrong lyrics to whatever was on the radio) and I just knew. This was it. This was the guy I wanted to be with. My best friend, my partner. I wanted to feel the peace of that moment over and over again, and somehow I knew that I would. I kept that moment to myself (not wanting to freak him out) but I knew we would be together always.
I don't exactly remember when I had that epiphany, (probably sometime in late 2004) and let's face it, trying to remember ONE anniversary is hard enough. But I do know that nine years ago today (technically tomorrow since I'm writing this the night before) we made it official. We took a giant leap of faith and never looked back. If I thought hard enough (alas, it's too late at night for my mushy brain to attempt such a feat) I could probably tell you how many times we moved, how many jobs we cycled through, how many cars we've owned. But those are just statistics, little mile markers that remind you of what life was like back then that you'll find in every marriage. Those things don't define our marriage. It's just stuff we had, stuff we did to earn money, places we lived because we had to. Now when I look back on our nine years together, I think about the decisions we made and why we made them, the tough conversations we've had, the moments of total honesty that led to greater connection, the periods of struggle where every day felt like a marathon, the times he held me up, the times where I held him up, the moments of complete, wide-eyed wonder and beauty that accompanied the birth of our children, the mornings where all we wanted to do was throw the covers over our heads and hide...
It's been a messy, bumpy, stinky, noisy, sticky, chaotic ride, far from that initial moment of clarity I had all those years ago. We are not without our troubles. Sometimes it feels like we're just trying to find our way through a dense fog. The honeymoon is DEFINITELY over. Heck, I'm lucky if I get half an hour with him tonight before I pass out on the couch. But memories are wonderful things, little time machines that transport us to different versions of ourselves if we need it. And when I need it, all I have to do is picture that winding road with the trees filtering out the sun, the ocean, and a cute boy, singing his heart out. That feeling of completeness comes rushing back, and I know, even nine years later, that I'm still right where I should be.
Happy Anniversary Hun.