For the first two months of our marriage we slept on the floor on a futon mattress that my new husband had pulled out of a dumpster at our college. Our home was furnished with a ragtag collection of furniture given by our parents, bought with money from our wedding, and left by the previous inhabitants of our small Brooklyn, NY apartment. But our bed, what I had imagined as a sacred space where marital dreams came true, was the one item that was pulled straight from the garbage.
Nonetheless it was ours – our space to live the lives of married, adult people. So we slept on that bed, lived in that apartment and built our lives together. This was our first year of marriage, my first year out of college, my first full time job, and all while living in a brand new, huge city. I moved from college in a tiny town in Pennsylvania, to three months back in my parents’ house and my childhood bedroom, to Brooklyn, NY and life in a tiny apartment with a full size man. There were so many changes at once that my naive little mind barely knew how to process it all. I was truly adulting for the first time and doing it with glee, abandon and trepidation all at once.
One night, as we slept on our bed adopted from someone else’s refuse, there was an on-again and off-again dripping noise outside. I managed to fall asleep in the midst of the inconsistent pitter-patter, but David was not so lucky.
In a sudden moment of midnight inspiration it occurred to him that the dripping was coming from the air conditioning unit in the window of the apartment above our own. David grabbed a towel from the bathroom, staggered to the window in the dark, kicking and waking me in the process, and opened the window to put the towel on top of our air conditioning unit to catch the drips. This ended in a giant crash and a very scared landlady in the apartment below us. It seems that the previous tenants had to not actually secured the air conditioning unit to the window sill, and had simply used the closed window to keep it in place. That hot, humid August night we were left to sleep in our apartment, on our makeshift bed on the floor, having woken all of our neighbors, but free of the incessant dripping sound. David was all at once embarrassed to have caused the commotion and surprisingly proud of himself for solving the original problem.
You learn so much about another person when you live with them in a tiny apartment in a huge city where you know no one else. You learn about yourself; each of your idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, greatest stressors, and most selfish points, while you learn all of these things about another person as well.
I have heard many people describe the first year of marriage as the hardest and although this was one of the most difficult years of my life thus far it was not marriage that made it hard. It was all of the changes at once. That year stretched us, bound us together, and taught us the meaning of marriage; of two becoming one, in beautiful and difficult ways. I cried, I screamed, I stressed about the minute and the large. I gave him every reason to decide one year of marriage to me was enough. And he proved over and over again that he would be there for a lifetime. We learned that we would both make mistakes and we would both learn how to forgive over and over again. He proved that whether we were sleeping on a mattress pulled out of the garbage in a tiny un-air-conditioned apartment in the middle of the city or a four-poster bed in a mansion on a hillside, he would be my home and he would find his home with me.
What a miraculous gift I found in this man. On our wedding day we pledged to stay by each other’s side no matter what life throws at us, but it was in that first year of marriage and every day since that we have proven those vows. Over and over we have proven that life together is not made out things and good days, but out of commitment and trust.