When asked the same question, I always think I would have breathed a huge sigh of relief and congratulated myself on making at least one really good decision. I often can't believe how fortunate I am to be married to Nate. In the two years we've been married, I think we've crammed as many intense life experiences as the timeline would allow. However, the more changes we experience, the more in love I am and the more I can't believe how lucky I am. I married someone with an immense capacity to weather the storm and love me along the way- maybe those two are the same thing?
I also like to look at our wedding/engagement pictures and think, "Wow, you two have no idea what you're in for." I'm sure I'll think the same 5, 10, 50 years from now... but to be fair, 4 moves, new jobs, new countries, and a nice little brain surgery is a lot for two years. (And that's only the stuff that's light-hearted enough to blog about)
Like any good and thorough change, it turns out a successful marriage is hard fought. Or I guess it is for us. It's how we chose it, and I often think about the process of making steel when I think about the progress Nate and I have made since being married. (Again- I know we have more lessons to learn, but we've come pretty far!) To make steel, iron is heated and refined until all the impurities are gone, resulting in a clean and super strong metal. Marriage has taught me more about myself and others (specifically my husband, of course) than any other experience- it's been refining, and I often think about how it's helping us toward a partnership and life of steel. I love looking at the wedding pictures and also thinking, "Wow, you two have no idea how much more you'll love and understand each other in the future."
Moving to France has been just another stepping stone in the steel making process. I love the friends we've made, all the cool things we've seen (and posting fun instagram/facebook pictures), and we don't regret it one bit. However, being here has been really difficult. It's nothing out of the ordinary- it just turns out that going from employee to student, citizen to visitor, and native speaker to the comprehension of a 3 year old are all hard adjustments. But we're doing it (with a lot of help, mind you) and I honestly cannot imagine doing it without Nate. Our steel marriage is sustaining us. :)
Back to the idea of going back in time, one of the first times (it took several) I knew Nate was someone I should take more seriously was in the restroom of La Jolla Groves during a mid-date break.
As background, I would take a mid-date break on pretty much every date I went on before getting married, usually under the guise of needing to use the restroom. I've spent many a 5 minute self session in front of bathroom mirrors, seeing my reflection and knowing the truth about the date. Sometimes it was the realization that I was trying too hard- as great as the guy was, things really just weren't clicking, and I unfortunately couldn't force it. Sometimes it was the reverse- this guy was super nice, but I was not there, and I was savoring my break time. Either way, my self time was often the sad realization of something not fitting, again.
However, I can distinctly remember the break I took the first time Nate and I went out. Maybe it's because the restaurant had fancy bathrooms- you know, the gold handles and back-lit mirrors with marble counters. Looking in the mirror that night was awesome because I felt like I was living the high life. But it was also the first time where I thought, "Yeah, there's nothing wrong with this picture. I could totally be Nate Parkin's girl, and I'm not wishing there was something different about me or him to make tonight better. It's fine how it is. I think I'll freshen up and get back to the date now." Everything about the evening had been pleasant. It was well-paced, conversation was interesting but not forced, and for the first time, my break time was re-affirming instead of dismaying.
We continued to go on dates, and proceeded to break up and get back together a few more times before getting married, but I always came back to that feeling- things with Nate just fit. And in our refining moments, it's something I still come back to- it fits, and there's no one else I'd rather be on this journey with.
So I guess in conclusion, I knew Nate and I were a good match because of a fancy restroom... and other self-evaluation, soul searching moments. But, if I could go back in time to that first bathroom break and tell myself how the next few years would go, I think the 24 year old me would have said, "Sounds good!" And I would be right- it is good, and the outlook is good too.