The first day I met Kamel he took me to the woods. He had rented a hasselblad and needed a “model” (<– not the fancy kind, but the real kind) to practice on. I volunteered via twitter. He picked me up on the corner of my street and drive me to an undisclosed location. I was never nervous or afraid. I probably should have been. He took photos of me, awkwardly standing around the woods. I was wearing a long sleeved floral shirt, jeans, and flip flops. Today I look at the photos and hate how my feet look. He still thinks I looked amazing. At the time he said my shirt was clashing too much with the trees, and would it be ok if I went home and changed into something else? His driving made me carsick and I was very hungover, but I did my best to play it cool. I thought he was interesting.
A few days before we got married we rented a Dodge Charger and took a roadtrip to the peninsula of Washington state. We walked through the woods in La Push and entered onto one of the most magical beaches ever ever in the history of shorelines. Aside from the large rock structures that poke out of the water, there are giant logs that have washed up on shore. They are perfect for climbing and they are so big they make you feel small. I first had gone to this beach with Maris, and going there as an escape from all of the wedding planning hubbub had felt like perfection. Still, even just a few days ago, we talked about what a good idea it was to get away for a day right before the wedding. Perfect timing, perfect us time, perfect adventure.
On our first anniversary we lived in an apartment with a wall of windows that faced large eucalyptus trees. They all stood in a neat row and were so high it was difficult to get a photo of them even when I tried. I have never been able to replicate the sound they made when the wind blew. Like waves pounding the shore, but gentler. I miss those trees and that apartment.
By our second anniversary we had Gabriel. We ordered takeout from a fancy italian restaurant, ate a late dinner because we had to stop at Target first, and took turns soothing a fussy baby during his witching hour, while the other one got to eat semi-warm bolognese. There were no trees.
By the time we had a third anniversary we had moved back to Seattle. It took me a year to get over how green it is here. Yes, yes it is the Evergreen State, but how often are those nicknames even relevant? It is so lush and so sparkly and so alive here, it blows me away.
On our fourth anniversary I had just given birth to our little bird. We drank champagne while she slept on our chests. I was tired and sore and life was hard, but life was good. We stayed inside all day except for when we took Fae for her 2-day check-up.
On this fifth anniversary we spent most of the day apart. It was Fae’s birthday party! And so many things needed to get done! We had hot dogs to grill and decorations to hang and cake to pick up and bags of ice to buy. At the end of the day, when we finally did get a minute for ourselves, we pulled out our wedding champagne flutes from the back of the cabinet and poured ourselves a glass. Of course the pop of the cork woke up Gabriel, so I moved our tiny anniversary celebration into our bedroom while Kamel settled him back down. It took a while. By the time Kamel was shutting the nursery door behind him, it was nearly 11pm. He crawled into bed and we began a little toast about the last five years, only to have me knock a giant splash of champagne all over myself and the bed. So, press pause again while we strip the sheets and change the linens and I change my pajamas. By the time we had even had a sip the champagne was warm and we were both so, so tired. Much like I am right now as I try to finish this post.
Five years is a long time. But it feels like maybe two years ago we got married, not five. Where did these children even come from? Why is the fifth anniversary wood? Because trees start out as saplings and just keep chugging along until they are mighty redwoods? Hm, maybe. Because they are both strong, yet comforting? Solid, yet soft? Perhaps. I think five years is wood because even the most evergreen tree experiences seasons. There are periods of drought, and threatening forest fires. There is spring time with pine cones or seeds that float through the air, and fall with a splash of color or no color at all. Winter (is coming, just kidding) can be both beautiful and barren. And marriage is all of those things. Hopefully you and I haven’t seen them all in just five years. But we will. And even through the great moments and the desperate ones, the tree stands. Sometimes all anyone can ask is that you show up. Showing up to marriage is much more than 50% of the game. Sometimes all you can do is be there, standing next to each other.
To Kamel on our 5th wedding anniversary. Thank you for being my tree. I love you, you coo-coo bananas man of mine. How amazing is this family we’ve built? I would relive it all over again just to see it happen one more time.