In case you were worried that I disappeared completely, I did.
Last week Annika and I escaped to the Big Apple to see Jason. For TEN days. It's impossible to overstate the indebtedness I feel to Susie and Charles for so graciously watching the rest of our kids during this adventure. A house full of energetic young'uns can be challenging under the best of circumstances, but Susie tackled the crew while simultaneously recovering from a long illness. Thank goodness Grandpas make great entertainers, particularly when playing with trucks outside in the dirt! Once Susie was on the mend, Brooklyn and Talia took their own turns with a brief stomach bug. From what I hear, everyone was very grateful when the sun came out and all were healthy enough to go outside and play.
During this ten day respite, Jason and I had the chance to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years ago, I never could have predicted all the twists and loops our lives would take in the coming decade. Four children, graduate school in Illinois, a year in France, employment as an architect in St. George---and yet through it all, we keep boomeranging back to New York. Even before we met, we were connected to New York, be it through Jason's mission or my frequent family vacations there. A couple weeks after our engagement, Jason flew to New York to meet my extended family before we made the long drive back to Provo together (nothing like 24 hours straight in a mini-van with your future in-laws.) Following our honeymoon, our very first "home" as a married couple was my great aunt's basement on Long Island. The following summer we came back and bunked with my Uncle Jay and Aunt Janet. I suppose it was quite appropriate that we reunited in New York once more to celebrate ten years.
Ten years ago, if you had asked me what I wanted for my tenth anniversary, I might have spoken of a cruise or an exotic vacation. Ten years ago, if you had told me that we would celebrate this milestone by eating tacos at home, I probably would have suggested that we raise the bar. And if you had mentioned, ten years ago, that I would be parenting four wee ones on my own, I might have approached the altar with more trepidation. Young and naive as I was a decade ago, I can only hope that had I known, I still would have beamed at the altar. For while I may not have understood, ten years ago, all of the challenges that we would face, I most certainly did not anticipate such joy.
When Jason left for New York two and a half months ago, my greatest fear was that our marriage would suffer. While we still have a long way left to go, I feel peace that our relationship will survive in tact. Jason's genuinely missed us--and that's good. We likewise miss him--enormously. At the same time, as much as I need Jason, I'm learning not to be as needy as I was before. In the past, the idea of celebrating an anniversary while Jason worked all week would have seemed pretty lame. In light of our recent separation, however, it felt like we had oodles of time. Waking up together in the morning, meeting up for lunch (even if only for twenty minutes of "street eats"), then a whole evening with eyes only for each other--it was lovely. And as for those anniversary tacos? They were delightful--because they were enjoyed together. (Besides, who wants to eat out with a cranky baby?)
Some day, I hope to sort through hundreds of photos to post a few to chronicle our adventure. In the meantime, however, I'd like to share a very random one. Taken by a stranger on the subway, this woman saw Jason and I snuggling together and asked if she could snap a photo. Even if Jason's head may be cropped slightly by a finger over the lens, the picture shows us ten years after our "I Do's"--thick in the grit of life, but still in love.