There was a long list of things we didn’t have: money, life experience with serious relationships, college degrees — heck, not even a high school diploma — and a place of our own. After all, we were just teenagers. AKA we had no clue, and the world let us know it.
The list of things Nick and I did have at age 17 was a lot shorter, but in the end, mattered more: love, commitment and the crazy, irrational belief that we could make it no matter what the naysayers told us.
Today, we have enough money to live a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. We have over 11 years of “us.” We have college degrees, a mortgage, a dog and three kids. We’ve lived in two states, two countries and two continents as man and wife. By all accounts, we now know what we’re doing.
And yet part of me still longs for the days when life boiled down a hand-written love poem on a first Valentine’s Day, grammar and punctuation mistakes and all.
That yearbook smile still drives me mad
With all that’s changed, I’m so glad
You’re still loving me
With that some old high school heart
~From “High School Heart” by John Michael Montgomery
The presents may have gotten more expensive, the clamor may have increased in the background and maybe we don’t have to drive 85 miles an hour down River Drive to make my curfew.
But that boy is the same. The girl is the same. The love is the same.
No, I take it back. That boy and girl have changed into a man and woman who have learned that true love isn’t entirely about the romance, the gifts and the holidays. That love has grown and matured into an all-encompassing river of everyday choices and actions, wild and calm by turns but always active and alive.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who, from nothing, has given me everything.