dougsarahski21 years old, in college, before-and-after-class small talk.

Inevitably it would come up.

I’m getting married.

Looks of shock, surprise, disbelief. I tried to explain…

We’ve been together since high school…We know each other really well…

I don’t think people had a very flattering view of me. I always felt awkward and embarrassed. I don’t know when it happened, but now whenever this little tidbit comes up…

Oh, I married my high school sweet heart. We’ve been together for over fifteen years.

People think it’s sweet.

Wow! That’s amazing—you guys got to grow up together. That’s really cool.

I’m not sure when the transition happened. When did our’s become a sweet story? When did we move past that  awkward teenager phase to this thing that (sometimes-maybe) feels like an actual love story?

I’m not sure what to do with the then-now thoughts. In many ways I’m not sure what happened—we just stayed together, almost despite my best efforts. I love our history. I love our story. But it mostly feels like a whole lot of grace and a little bit of luck.

She told me once, sometimes it’s really obvious you guys have been together since you were kids.

You mean like when I steal his shoes and yank really hard on the bottom most lace so he has to unlace his whole shoe to fix it? That type of thing? Yeah—lots of things there. That was our first fight—and we both agree he was an idiot on that one. We were young and a little foolish, calling this thing we felt love.

But if we had listened to the skeptics, or given up, we wouldn’t have this story. There were so many mistakes and hurts along the way—so much baggage. Our history is littered with fights and tears and late night discussions and almost break ups. Darkness I never thought we would escape. Sharp, bitter disappointments on both sides.

Somehow we carved out this life together.

We had to grow up in love. How I understand love now would be different if I didn’t grow up in these trenches. I wouldn’t know how love stays and fights. I wouldn’t know that I can make the same mistakes over and over and over and experience forgiveness over and over and over. We had to learn not to hold grudges. Without our story, I wouldn’t know how to lose myself in a relationship, only to rediscover myself all over again. I wouldn’t know that love meant holding loosely—giving the beloved the room to fly and sometimes to fall. I wouldn’t know that love means support even when I don’t agree or don’t understand. And that while we are journeying together, we’re also on our own individual journeys, and that’s OK. I get to celebrate the times we meet up and travel together. I learned love means the space to breathe. We are two independent people learning to move in harmony, learning to hold space for the pieces we know and the pieces we are less familiar with, learning to love a person we don’t always like, fighting for affection and romance in the midst of real life.

I married the boy I started dating a month before I turned fifteen.

I don’t know anything else.

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