I went to a small, conservative Christian college. A place where marriage by graduation was not just “encouraged” among students it was flat out encouraged. During one of my first freshman orientation events the then dean of students used a phrase that has become famous on that campus, “look to your left, look to your right, your future mate may be in sight.” Yes, I’m serious. And I looked. With a parent on either side of me my prospects seemed thin.
As was the norm on my campus, I lived in the dorms all four years of school. The dorms were separated by gender and there were only specific hours during which girls and boys could fraternize in the other gender’s rooms. And once you were in the rooms there were more rules. “A shoe in the door, a foot on the floor, and one light on.” Because obviously if the door is open four inches, life is lived vertically rather than horizontally, and you cannot hide completely in the dark nothing “bad” can happen.
However, despite (or because of) all of these conditions, at 19 years old I met a boy. He was tall and handsome with broad shoulders and strong opinions. He knew how to make me laugh on even the most difficult days and he believed in adventure and Jesus. I was head over heals in love. And three months after I graduated, at the age of 22, I married that boy.
Needless to say, I never actually entered the adult dating scene. So, I look back on the world of dating through rose-colored glasses. The first touch, the first kiss – sparks. The big questions were when would I get to see him next and did we have enough money for both dinner and a movie. I have tendency to idealize that time in my life.
Usually my reading choices fall into the category of things that will make me think, that will challenge my perspective, that will encourage me to grow in some way or another – to be a better person. I love stories of people who have lived their lives well. But at the beginning of this year, after 2015’s whirlwind of grandparent deaths I needed a break. So I read a young adult romance novel. I wanted something light that would not ask me to think too hard. The funny thing is that rather than bringing me back to simpler times and my usual happy nostalgia, the lack of depth in these teenage romances made me so thankful for the years of depth David and I have built. They made me thankful for this moment, rather than those of the past.
There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, amazing adventures and difficult days, but all of that is what makes us, David and Abby, who we are today. And I love it. I love that I am no longer living on the edge of a brand new relationship checking out its comforts for the first time. I have found my perfect spot and settled deep into it. Today we celebrate 11 years of marriage. 11 years into marriage our relationship is a long lasting, still growing, incredible place of comfort and safety.
This new school year will be our last in Mexico. A year from now our lives will change drastically. And I know that this next year with all its changes is going to bring a lot more growth, plenty more challenges, and up and down days, but I also know that this life, with him by my side, is where I belong. So forgive my gushy, lovey-dovey post, but somewhere in the midst of conservative rules and my starry eyed, immature, 19-year-old self I found a boy and fell in love. And I intend to keep it that way.