Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five Years Is A Long Time. Maybe.

In five years, a person can accomplish a lot. You can transform from a newborn to a kindergartener. You can begin first grade and then finish fifth. You can get through high school and spend a year putting that entire experience behind you. You can get a college degree. You can make friends that you will love for the rest of your life.

You can meet someone who learns to hold your heart in their hand and learns to let you hold their heart in your hand. You can form a bond with that person that will last forever.

Private Ryan and I met five summers ago by accident, and in the last five years we've lived a lifetime together. When we met, he was a young dumb boy in the process of transforming into a man. He was leaving behind a life where drinking and street racing were the norm, and he was craving a life with more meaning. I was a young single mother who maybe should have known better than to take a risk on a young dumb boy. What was I thinking?

But maybe it paid off.

I remember the thrill of excitement. I had actually sort of used my daughter as a scare tactic with him. I had only been separated from Ex-Husband for eight months, and I had been comfortable in my role as a single mom. I didn't have to compromise, I didn't have input from the ex, and I didn't need permission or conversation before doing anything. I was a single young woman just doing the best I could to raise my little girl right. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. So when I first started talking to Private Ryan, I made sure to casually mention at the end of the first conversation that I had to go get my baby put to bed. He "aww"ed appropriately and asked a few questions, but I was sure I'd never hear from him again.

I did. I did hear from him again.

So then I told him a little about her ASD. Not only was I a single mother, but I was a mother with a baby who wasn't perfectly healthy. He wasn't scared like I wanted him to be. I was intrigued, he was sympathetic. My plan wasn't working ... He was charmed.

But by then, so was I.

I remember us talking about things we were afraid of in a new relationship, things that had gone bad in our previous relationships. I remember laughing with him on the phone, and texting at all hours of the day and night.

I remember the first time our skin touched. And get your heads out of the gutters, I don't mean like that! The first time he touched me, we were at my friend's apartment, just hanging out with my crowd. He was nervous because it wasn't home for him and he didn't happen to like that friend much, so he was quiet. Sensing his nerves and reveling in a new relationship, I stayed close to him and we sat together on the couch. I can't remember what he wore, or what I wore. I can't remember the song or movie that might have been playing. I don't remember when the conversation was about. But I remember ...

I remember as we sat, there was a good six inches between our hips and I sat curled up on one leg, electric with the knowledge of his presence beside me. He was sitting by the "arm" of the couch, and his arm was resting propped there. The other arm was beside him ... beside me. I'm sure he was nervous because I know I was, and I remember noticing his fingers twitching just a little. I remember thinking it was cute that he was thinking what I was thinking. He wanted skin contact too, just to feel his hand on mine.

I remember the first time he kissed me, in the front seat of my car and Teenybop was asleep in the back. He kissed me nervously, like he was afraid I'd mace him or something, and I remember smiling against his lips. He was sure different from Ex-Husband's more aggressive style. He kissed me sweetly, gently. Slowly. Softly.

And I loved it. Before long, I loved him. The next thing I knew, we were living together in my little apartment, and one night we were sitting up in bed. He talked to me about how much he loved me, how much he loved my little daughter. How he loved sliding down slides with her, and he reassured me that he really didn't feel like a dork. He said he felt like he was finally really living ... doing something worthwhile. He felt good about reading stories to my tiny girl while she curled herself into his lap. He laughed when she tried on his giant shoes, and didn't mind when she'd grab a fistful of chest hair. Or arm hair. Or leg hair ... And he laughed when she played with his goatee because she'd never seen one before. He wanted her to be his. He wanted to be her "Daddy" instead of being her "Ry-nan". He wanted to talk about adopting her.

It had been only a short while and in that time we'd met, moved in together, fallen in love and decided to be a family. Literally, the entire process took less than six months ... a lot less. No one thought we'd make it, and everyone thought it went too fast, including us at times. But here we are.

We've been together today for five years. In that time, we've been through too many cars to count, too many jobs to count. We've almost broken up more times than either of us care to count. We've made love, and we've fought bitterly. We've hurt each other terribly, and we've mended each others brokenness. We've felt rich, and we've felt poor. We've given thanks for having met and been together, and we've each had our doubts about our ability to see a future together. We've lived healthy together, and we've nursed each other in times of illness.

We've raised a little girl who was almost two when we met. She is now almost seven years old, and she adores her "Daddy" as much as he usually adores her. We've created new life together, celebrated the tumultuous birth of our second baby girl. We've seen both of those children knock on the door of death before God chose to let them stay with us. We have suffered together, and we have rejoiced.

Through all the hard times we've lived through, there has been one constant. We have loved. Five years is a long long time when you think of how many months and days that have passed and see all the ways that we have not progressed in financial ways. We are no richer than we were back then (though we have been). Some people are judged by whether or not they have "five year plans" and whether or not they live up to them. But five years is also a remarkably short time for all that we have grown and changed as people in that time. Five years is short when you think of all the life that we had squeezed out of those five little years. Five years is short when you still dream of spending the rest of your life with the same person in spite of all the troubles.

We made it this far, and I can only hope that the future is more friendly. Here's to the next five years ...