For the first six months of our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, my husband and I wrote letters to each other.
He transferred one semester earlier than me to the larger university. We started dating that December, but given that we were just freshman in college, actually seeing each other during the semester at different colleges came rarely.
Nine years in and the two of us can still go months without seeing each other and maintain our draw to one another, so I think we owe something to those months of getting to know each other through cursive handwriting and pages upon pages of college-ruled notebook paper.
We could have texted, and we did sometimes. We could have called, and we did that sometimes too. But the real conversation? That came from the letters we wrote to each other.
I still have all the letters in our downstairs closet. They sit in a little cardboard box held together with a pink rubber band. Over the holiday, I came across them while moving things around to accommodate all the new toys our tiny humans received for Christmas.
As I looked through them, it occurred to me that I was holding our foundation.
In these letters, we revealed everything from our favorite foods and colors to our favorite movies and books. As time went on, we revealed deeper things, such as what we wanted in life, what happiness meant to us, and where we saw ourselves in a decade.
Well, here we are, almost a decade into this adventure, so how did those predictions hold up?
Chris wasn’t sure what his career would be back then. He was pursuing engineering, but a much different kind at the time.
I was twisted into knots that spring because I was pursuing a biology degree to attend medical school, but I desperately wanted to switch. A year after writing that letter, I realized that writing was my calling, and many years later, I realized teaching was my true passion. Who would have guessed it? A pre-med biology major turned middle school English teacher.
We both had a vision of a big family with a pet dog. Sometimes I would even draw pictures of the hypothetical dog in the corners of the paper. We both talked about the simple life a lot. We dreamed of a world where there was an easy routine and time for laughter.
As I flipped through the handwriting of two very familiar authors, I felt overcome with celebration.
We did it.
Sometimes among the morning rush of tiny humans demanding to put their own mittens on even though everyone is fifteen minutes late and thrown together dinners in front of the television because we are all too tired to hold a conversation, it is easy to lose sight of the win.
It is human nature. We are always waiting for the next phase of life to happen. After we started our family, both of our brains are constantly thinking about our future. It is not often that we take the time to consider where we are now and most importantly, the happiness in that.
Finding those letters was exactly what I needed to boost me into 2020. I’m not sure what life will have for me in another decade, but for now, I’m taking a minute to celebrate the happiness I have from the previous decade.
Yesterday, I sat on my patio and watched my kids play in the backyard. It was one of those rare warm January days. They were both chuckling over the dog doing laps around them. I watched for a while. This is my present, I thought to myself, this is where I am now.