for the first ten years he would ask: marry me? and i would respond: when you buy me a rock.
it was a goofy little joke between us. by rock i meant big fat huge diamond and we both knew i was full of shit. carat plus compressed carbon nuggets that cost more than our first home down payment have never been sexy to me the way they are for other women. but i would say it, fending him off, still trying to decide if i'd care to be married again (for a 2nd time), contemplating wether it really mattered or not, with two kids, a home, and a passionately dynamic yet often times difficult life between us. i thought i could get away with not having to really talk/face marriage by using the rock joke since i knew he'd never get his hands on one and wouldn't have picked one out for me on his own if he had the money anyhow (i am a first born Capricorn, after all, he is well aware!).
when we met he didn't wear shoes. i drove a vw bus. his hair was dreading. i shaved no hair on my body. he ate tomatoes on a sandwich i made, which he disliked immensely at the time, on our first date hiking up a mountain. i spilled an entire keg cup of beer in his car the night we met. i was flying and driving to Dead shows. he was an apprentice plumber and military drop out. he was living back at home. i was living back at home.
one day, right before meeting and the subsequent Summer of Love (1994!), i was driving out of town one way and he was driving by the other way. the sun was setting. it was that drive-by scene from the movies, where time slowed in motion as we passed one another, craning our necks to really check each other out. we both say now we were thinking the same thing: is that who i think it is and how do i get in the same room with her/him. i went straight home to the house next door to my parents, which i was sharing with my brother, who always had his girlfriend over, still my best friend to this day, and begged them both, please help me get this guy and i in the same vicinity. as it turned out, this guy and i had gone to high school together, he a year younger. and there was even a group photo of us in my senior yearbook, having both been voted "most fashionable" in our classes. imagine. so, there was that.
so we met. i spilled the beer. he left his container of herb in my room so i knew he'd come back. i lived on a lake so he would come over and lay on the dock with me after work each day. i took him to my families property on the olympic peninsula for a weekend. i walked ahead of him on a trail and he said: i'd sure like to have that swing in my back yard. and i fell for it, you guys. totally. he listened to reggae non-stop and said he would marry me one day because i was the only girl he knew who knew all the words to all the songs and could sing along.
six weeks in, at twenty-one years old, i was pregnant, miraculously for the first time ever, and i took it as a sign, a direction for my life. by then my folks had told us we were no longer welcome to "play house" in the home next-door to theirs so we had found a tiny studio apartment to move into. i remember coming home from taking a pee test at the free clinic, having been counseled there to consider all options as my future, according to them, looked like welfare and poverty if i choose to become a mom then, college unfinished, unmarried, divorced. i said to Chad: this is it. i am having a baby. you can stay or go. if you stay, consider it a commitment, "like" marriage. no back door. working through whatever hard stuff comes. he cried, said i'm not going anywhere, and here we are, two kids, twenty years later, still at it.
so for the first ten years we have this joke about the rock between us. marriage isn't really on the agenda. we felt a bit meh about it, whatever. and then he goes and gets me this rock. the Marry Me Rock. and we had a real good gut busting laugh over the rock, it was no diamond but it was the right rock for me. obviously. and i keep my agreements, so ten years ago today we married. A Samhain celebration, barefoot outside, under trees lit with lanterns at twilight, circled by all our friends and family.
babe, when you read this and cry, because i know you will and it's one of the things i love most about you, that you wear your heart on the outside, unarmored, uncrossed, fully in it, exposed and willing, able to shed tears often and much for all the breathtaking beauty and deep pain that life delivers, just know that you are loved, hard, to the moon and back. i thank my lucky stars that i kept my agreement to marry you when you gave me "a rock," the right rock, the one for me. i'm in it with you, forever. xx