It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost six and a half years since we met. Sometimes I think about that and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. I look back at the photographs of us from our first Christmas together and I can hardly believe that the people in those pictures are us. We look so young. We were so young. But I remember those days like they were yesterday, even though it is hard to place the people we are now in the life we had back then.
I remember how we were always walking, endlessly circling the streets around our town, deconstructing our lives and our feelings and the simple facts of our days. I think most of what we learned about each other in those early months was learned upon those walks. We liked to drive over to York and walk around there too, then we would stop by the cinema on the way home and watch a movie together.
I remember the night you cooked vegetable lasagne for me in my kitchen, how we lay on the kitchen floor together and I knew I loved you. I knew it in such a way that it wasn’t a feeling, but a fact. Irrevocable. Unchangeable. Solid and dependable. It’s funny how I didn’t know that you were what I was looking for before that night, how I’d thought that we would have something short and fun, but never imagined us in the place we find ourselves now. That night it felt like something I should have known all along.
I remember how sometimes, on our days off together, we would just lie in bed all day, then in the evening we would get up and go wander around the aisles in the supermarket trying to find something we both wanted for dinner. More often than not, we ended up getting take-out instead.
I remember the first home we bought, the endless search through flats and houses and how nothing ever felt quite right until we stood in a ripped out kitchen together and something finally fell into place. Our situation there wasn’t always great, but we had each other and that somehow made everything okay. We told ourselves over and over that it was only temporary, just a footing on the ladder that would lead us to the home we would stay in forever.
I remember handing you a tiny ginger kitten and watching a part of you that I’d never seen before come out. You were like a child on Christmas morning. You’d always told me that you hated cats, but that was the first time you’d ever really been so close to one and I watched you fall in love with him in seconds. Within a month of bringing that kitten and his brother home, you were making friends with every cat on the street and I knew that you were IT.
I remember the night you asked me to marry you, how I knew it was coming because you couldn’t sit still and your sentences were left half-finished. You were skittish and unpredictable, like a firework in an overturned milk bottle. Then I remember the crippling nerves of our wedding day and the giddy excitement of becoming your wife. I remember how everybody else disappeared as I promised my future to you. There were only 40 people in the room with us, but there could have been 4000 and I wouldn’t have cared right then. You anchored me to that moment with nothing but your hand holding mine.
I remember the moment the world turned upside down, and now I look back I can really see how scared we both were behind the excitement and the exhilaration of knowing that we were going to be parents. But you were right there when I needed you, and you made me anything I asked for on the rare occasions that I actually felt up to eating in the first few months. I remember one night all I wanted was a baked potato with butter, so you made one for me and you pulled such a sad face when I came back from the bathroom ten seconds after finishing it looking miserable and shaking my head.
I remember our second search for a home and the many disappointments we had to face along the way. I particularly remember that one house, the house we both loved, the house we could see ourselves living in before we even stepped through the door. There was so much space, so many rooms that went on forever, such a place to grow a family. I know we both felt like we couldn’t possibly belong somewhere like that. We ignored so many things about that house because it was The Dream. The hole in the top floor bedroom ceiling – a sure sign that something was amiss with the roof -; the weird bath; the fact that we would need to buy a new oven with next to no money; how close it was to the road; the lack of parking... But when it came down to it, we knew that enough about it wasn’t right that even when the vendors came back to us after rejecting our offers twice, we somehow knew we’d done the right thing in walking away. But I still think about that house sometimes when I feel like we’re all falling over each other here, and I know that you do too.
I remember us painting this house together, talking for hours about what our lives would be like here, trying to imagine what our baby boy would look like and gazing out over the overgrown jungle of a back garden while we pictured summer days playing football and splashing in a paddling pool with him. And I know that I would have been so much more scared during my first labour if you hadn’t been there. I remember telling you at one point that I didn’t want you to be around for the birth because I couldn’t bear the idea of you seeing me like that, but I know that I only got through it because you were there and when I sobbed that I couldn’t do it anymore, you held my hand and you told me that I could. You were so calm and you made me believe that I was strong and brave and could do anything.
I feel like so much of who we were has gotten lost over the last three and a half years. Or maybe not so much lost as buried, because now our world is so much bigger than just the two of us. But sometimes I forget that you still need me. You still need me to be on your side, to have your back and be the person that I always was for you. So I want you to know that I remember us. I remember the little things and the big things and the million tiny moments that have led us here, and I am grateful for you. I’m grateful that you know me well enough to understand that I’m a bit fucked up sometimes and that it’s not your fault. I can’t imagine feeling so right with anyone but you; you are everything I never knew I always wanted, and I don’t even care how cliché that sounds. I want you to know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without you and that I love you.
I just love you.