I look at this picture and think, “My goodness, they’re just babies.” (My second thought is: “Why did I put racing stripes in my hair?”) We were young: 21. Had you asked us, however, we would have told you we were ready. And maybe we were; as ready as two people can be for life to happen to them. Truth be told, as I slipped that ring on my soon-to-be husband’s finger, I was scared. We were the first of all our friends to take the plunge into Forever, and while I was very independent and fairly proficient at taking care of myself, now I would need to learn how to take care of another person; and moreover, how to adjust to the people we would become now that our lives were joined. My whole life I dreamed of being married. On planet Earth there exists no bigger romantic than this girl. And if life were a candy-shop, I would be a gigantic sucker. Ask my mother, but I believe I came straight out of her stomach, covered my heart with my hand, and fell instantly in love with the doctor whom delivered me. “Look how brave you were, coming in after me!” You can blame it, perhaps, on the Disney movies. I owned them all, watched them until fuzzy white lines appeared on the screen and they had to be manually re-wound. I adored them: their glamorized perception of “falling in love,” the ideology of finally becoming a “whole” person, and of course the idea of “soul-mates.” Hm . . . I wonder what Prince Charming would have done had Cinderella broken her neck running down the stairs at midnight? Would he have still loved her if she could never dance again? Walk again? Confined to life in a wheel-chair? Would if she could never again tell him “I love you.” What if her communication consisted only of drooling and moaning. It’s awful to imagine, but it happens. Or worse, what if she had died? If Cinderella was the prince’s One and Only, then was he now damned to a life of solitude and celibacy? I love a Happy Ending as much as the next person, but — and call me Crazy — that’s a Disney story I’d be eager to see, gladly endorse. Because, you see, as wonderful as it is, to dream, to imagine what life will look like in the arms of your chosen one, sometimes those arms aren’t exactly what you thought they would be. Sometimes they aren’t strong enough. Sometimes you will fall, and those arms aren’t there to catch you. And that hurts, badly. Especially if you’re like me, and thought that once you were married, it meant nothing could hurt you ever again. Marriage is hard. There is nothing easy about it. You will work and work and work at it, and when you’ve made a bit of progress, one of you will be laid off, someone will scratch the new car, accidentally say something unflattering about you to a room full of your closest friends, the dog will poop on the dry-clean only rug, a twenty-minute drive home will take three and half hours, you will be sent a bill you did not expect and cannot pay, ants will infest your home. These things will happen over and over again, in a multitude of creatively heinous circumstances. The silver lining? It gets better the longer you’re at it. This is my anniversary card. If you know me, you know I have a deep and intense adoration for the moon — specifically the full moon. And if you know me even better, you know that Skittles are my favorite candy. (This new kind is a tongue-dazzler. Highly recommended!) Oh, and that little pink thing in the corner, that is lip-gloss — organic lip-gloss — organic, pomegranate lip-gloss. So what am I saying? I am saying that this man knows me. He knows me well. This accomplishment took time, lots of mistakes, and many lonnnnnng conversations discussing how we would try our hardest not to purposely and inadvertently tick the other one off. But do I and does he still infuriate me on a weekly if not daily basis? Yup. Here are a few ways he does that: — our hamper is purely ornamental — flushing the toilet is optional — believes we employ a magical kitchen-fairy who takes the stained dishes from the sink, rinses them off, and puts them in the dishwasher But guess what? I wouldn’t have it any other way, because: Actually, it’s more like ALL of it. I am a blanket-thief. If you ever have to share a bed with me, just beware. You will likely wake up shivering and cold, having been forced to the furthest region of the mattress, while I, perfectly warm and cozy, dominate the entirety of your personal space. Michael, even after 9 years, still manages to make me feel special and loved. Here are a few ways he does that: — guides me to the inside of the sidewalk when we’re walking down a street — slept on the couch for over a month while I battled insomnia — checks in with me every day and asks how I am feeling — calls me Beautiful — makes homemade popcorn every single night because it is my favorite thing in the entire world — encourages me to go get a pedicure, buy myself a new outfit, have time with the girls — greets me at the door when I come home from the gym — tells me he loves me every night before bed, no matter what — fixes all the things I break or cannot figure out how to assemble — makes my life interesting In a nutshell: marriage is messy. But if you think about it, so are many wonderful things: hamburgers, cotton-candy, smores. I’m realizing my list is composed solely of foods, which, let’s just be honest, is one of the best parts about being human. Eating delicious food by myself: awesome. Eating delicious food with my favorite person in the entire world: priceless. Happy Saturday, everyone. Until next time . . .