Basically then, I want to meet this beautiful woman someday. I want her to smile and to know her laugh, like it was a good friend, and I want her to tell me everything that she knows. And somewhere in all that, I want her to quote Kurt Vonnegut about life. I want her to say, “It’s dangerous, I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s serious too.”
I had written that on the Fourth of July weekend in 2000 in Delaware. I was sitting outside by the pool waiting for my friends to reappear from wherever they disappeared to. There was a lot of alcohol and I was recovering from a particularly disastrous date I had the day before in Philadelphia; one of those passionless encounters where two people meet and realize before even sitting down that there’s nothing there – like trying to start a fire with wet newspapers.
I remember the Delaware sky being crazy blue and the sun being crazy hot, the kind of clear day that makes the universe feel so big and you so small, and I was writing down my thoughts and wondering: why am I alone? By this point in the chronology, I was becoming self aware enough to consider the possibility that if I was alone this long, maybe it wasn’t them, but, you know, me.
I can remember lots of moments like that in my life. And maybe it was me. I know I’m petulant at times. Certainly moody on occasions. I’m either withdrawn or going for a joke at the most inopportune moments. I’m completely aware of how difficult I can be.
But I also know I’m smart, funny and creative. I know this because my wife tells me often. She rarely gives me the opportunity to wallow in doubt. And it’s been that way for eight years now. Eight years ago today we went out on our first date and it’s been easy ever since. And while she has never quoted Vonnegut, she has helped me to understand that life isn’t all that serious.
If I had a time machine, once I was through seeing dinosaurs, saving the universe and stalking Emily Dickinson (I’m convinced we’d be BFFs!), I would visit myself in places like Delaware and let myself know a few truths that we don’t quite get until after they’ve happened. For instance, when you’re young and looking for love, you’re not going to find it. Not because it’s not there or you’re not ready, but because you really don’t understand what it is you’re looking for. You got it all backwards. You walk around thinking you’ve got this key and all you need to do is find the right door. When in fact you’re really looking for the right door, and once you find it, then it’s time to find that key.
I just wish I could let 25-year-old-Me know that it worked out and that you’re living in, of all places, Poland. You have a loving family that spans two continents and friends all over the world who believe in you. There are twins now – a boy and a girl. Elliot and Emily (see, Emily? Total BFFs!). Two gorgeous tiny people who smile and laugh when you walk into the room. And they’re so young that every day there’s something new to discover. You have a beautiful home. You have these two ridiculous dogs who are cute, but also certifiably insane.
Most importantly, you’ve been with the same woman for eight years and married for five. And you love her, and she loves you. The architecture of our lives is complicated, vast and beautiful. And you love being able to design new rooms with her to spend your future together where the sky is crazy blue and the sun is crazy hot and you are never alone.
Happy Eight Years, Justyna! I waited a long time for you and it was worth every moment.
I love you.