The daffodils bloomed just in time–as they must have seven years ago–just in time for you to put one on my desk before I got to class to commemorate the day we started dating. We spent the cold months walking around campus and talking in the parking lot until our knee joints were frozen stiff, only occasionally going inside of one of the building’s lobbies to sit. Except for childhood winters, it’s probably the only winter I didn’t feel the cold.
I fell in love with you listening to Frank Sinatra and Sandra McCraken, an odd combination to be sure. I would drive to campus with my windows down, listening to Frank sing about spring on Jupiter and Mars, always anxious to see you. I fell in love in the spring, the clover filling my bag and cluttering the pages of my books from the time we spent sitting in the grassy crater after my Tuesday class. I fell in love between classes and homework and studying and watching a tall, handsome guy with brown hair play basketball. I sat on the bleachers, shyly, sure that my feelings for you were far too strong, far too evident on my face. And when I look back, we were just kids.
How did we think we were old enough to talk about marriage until two in the morning, wishing those three years before graduation would go by faster? How strange that we went on dates, pretending to be grown ups! How did we think we were old enough to buy a ring and say vows too big for us? How did we get to seven years of falling in love in the spring? Most days I feel like we are just playing house, just pretending to be grown ups and hoping we’re doing it right, just as we were then.
We decided to call St. Patrick’s Day our anniversary, though we had pretty much decided to date the night before. I’m pretty sure we made it Facebook official right after 12am, just to mark the day. If not, it would have been like so many other days with our snatches of time outside between classes and watching the dark fall, still outside. We probably went to the library and sat in the crater and went to chapel–it was a Monday, after all. And even that day, we felt that something big had changed and it had–it was the beginning of what we have now.
When it boils down to it, those early dating days remind me of nothing so much as childhood–staying outside all day, so drunk on life, coming in at night to sleep like the dead.
Like children, we had that strange mix of certainty and uncertainty, often feeling certain about the big things and unsure of the small. I remember how shy I was about you calling me your girlfriend, wondering whether it was the correct Christian term. At the same time, I had no qualms about being your girlfriend.
As children do, our relationship aged. We had to confront hard things in others–and more importantly, in ourselves.
It’s easy to write a sweet piece like this in the warm March sun–so like that day seven years ago. It’s easy to see this as merely sentimental; after all, I could write this and then have an argument with you. But in moments of greatest clarity, I know that this is what is true; I remember how lucky I am. I don’t forget the thrill of our arms resting beside one another on the chapel seats. I don’t forget how you carried my bag to class for me. I don’t forget looking for you after class–scanning all the faces and waiting to see yours.
And as much as I loved those glorious sun-soaked days, I love the comfort and surety of these even more.
I still find daffodils from you all the time–the mornings you take our son so I can sleep or write, the breakfast dates, the hastily-scribbled love notes on the counter, the Chick-fil-A stops.
And perhaps what still shocks me more than anything else is how like that young girl I still feel–how unsure and drunk on life, that strange mix of sureness and uncertainty, making big life decisions like I’m choosing an ice cream flavor while agonizing over the little ones. Yet always very, very sure of you.