When I was 16 I saw you for the first time. You were beautiful. But I didn’t see you on that first Valentines day. You weren’t my girlfriend. You were just some girl at church and school. Pretty, yes. But just another girl.
On Valentines day of 1995 you were much more to me. You were acceptance. Appreciation. Affirmation. My 18 year old eyes didn’t see you that way but that’s what you were. And I thought I loved you. I had no idea.
In 1997 we were married. I’m embarrassed to say I saw you as an object when we were first married. Certainly we were still friends and were supportive of each other but I didn’t see that. I just saw, and appreciated, your beauty. On Valentines day of 1998 I thought I loved you. I had no idea.
When I was 30 we renewed our vows. Events in our lives had drawn us very close together. I thought I loved you then. I had no idea.
Now it is 2014. I have seen you nearly every day for 20 years. (Kissed you nearly every day for 18 years.) What I see has changed over time. Not changed. Evolved. As has my understanding of the word “love”.
We have changed. Our relationship. We grew up together and have grown together. Our paths have merged more fully. When we were first married we were two people sharing some stuff and time. My concept of “closeness” had more to do with proximity than with emotions. I thought we had arrived! Woo Hoo!
I had no idea.
Valentines day is not just some made-up holiday to sell cards and chocolate. Valentines day gives me an official excuse to stand on a mountain and proclaim to the world that I love you. But I don’t have a mountain. I have a blog. (Thanks Ron Burgundy). I love you so much more than I did when I was 18. I have outgrown that love. I have outgrown the love I had for you when I was 30. I had no idea what love was. And now, as I stand at the edge of 38, I see more clearly what we are becoming.
I thought I had arrived when we swapped rings 16+ years ago. I thought we had arrived when we bought a house. I thought we arrived when we had kids 1, 2, 3 and 4. I thought we had arrived when we moved to the next house. Or the next house. Or the farm itself. We have not arrived.
We are still traveling. Together.
I wouldn’t trade you now for the “you” of 10 years ago. I need you as you are now. In another 10 years I’ll know you so much better. You will teach me more about what “love” means. I’m excited about how I’ll see you in 10 years. But I’ll wait.
I have no idea what is next. I know where we are aiming. We have written down our shared goals. I know what we are trying to do. But today we are here.
And I’m so happy to be here – right here – with you now.
I love you Julie Boo.