Five Year Anniversary_feistyharriet_Nov 2016 (1)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…how do you measure a year?

…Measure in love.

Five years ago today Mr. Blue Eyes and I eloped, telling essentially no one. We married in a cramped room of the very unromantic City and County building, under yellowy-green fluorescent lighting; the ceremony was performed by a stranger woman named Antigone who wore Chacos with her official robes. Honestly, it was perfect. My Dad and Stepmom were our witnesses and took us out to brunch afterwards, the next day we had Thanksgiving Dinner with my whole family and didn’t tell a soul that we were officially hitched.

The story leading up to our secretive elopement is a good one, but that’s a story for another day.

Five years. Two million, six hundred twenty-eight thousand minutes (yes, I did the math). The vast majority of those minutes we spent apart, in different states and different time zones. I haven’t done the math recently, but of the almost six years we’ve been together, we’ve only lived in the same state for two of them. We struggled with the distance, and sometimes we thrived with the distance. We have made sacrifices for each other, supported each other, and stood by each other through some glowing good times, and through a lot of impossibly difficult ones.

I went back to my old, defunct blog (RIP, Old Blog!), and looked up what I wrote about marrying Mr. Blue Eyes in the first place. This, in particular, struck me as 100% true then and 100% true now:

There are two things, in particular, that I love about Blue Eyes.

Thing 1: He is kind, he is one of those people who is just nice. He is polite and friendly and goes out of his way to help others. He is the kind of man who cares about people, and it shows. Babies and little kids flock to him and my niece, age almost-3, asks about him every single time I see her and runs up to him for a hug any time he’s around. He is sweet to me, he has yet to raise his voice or even speak to me with any kind of anger or disrespect. (Okay, in five years this may not be 100% true anymore, but it’s probably 95% true, and that’s still an A.) Sure, we’ve had disagreements and differing opinions but we can disagree without it turning nasty. Even on big things, even on emotional things, he is kind.

Thing 2: He sees me as I really am, flaws and all, and he loves me anyway. He has not put me up on a pedestal where I feel I am unable to be myself, he does not roll his eyes or get bothered or miffed when I have my less than stellar moments (and believe me, I have them). He has this amazing ability to encourage the best of me and simultaneously, he is not disappointed or embarrassed or put out when I am just my regular, normal, not-best self. I am geeky and goofy and silly and quirky without worrying that he will think less of me. I have baggage and issues and unbloggable things that affect me in really horrible ways. I am snarky and sassy and feisty and stubborn–and sometimes downright pig-headed–but even on my bad days, or bad weeks I know that his feelings won’t change. (And yes, after those bad days and bad weeks I admit my pig-headedness, apologize and try again.) Blue Eyes encourages the best parts of me to grow and develop, but he does not demand I change or insist that if I just tweak this or that, or get over this hurdle or that, or, you know, completely re-prioritize my life so he can really love me and then we can be happy. He loves me just the way I am; he is happy with me, and I with him, just as we are.


Five Year Anniversary_feistyharriet_Nov 2016 (2)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. Multiplied five times over.

Happy Anniversary, my blue eyed love. Here’s to the next five years, which will undoubtably be full of laughter and tears, good times and heartache, adventure and tedium, anger and hurt and overwhelming joy. But, most importantly, full of love.


Together and separate: a marriage

Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been together for five years, for the vast majority of those years we have lived hundreds of miles apart. We’d often see each other on weekends, or every-other weekend, or, sometimes, every third weekend. Long distance relationshipping is not something I’d actually recommend for anyone, it is hard and complicated and is a breeding ground for a lot of issues that are difficult to weed out and sometimes impossible to even recognize until they are already deeply embedded. Blue Eyes and I spent our fourth wedding anniversary unpacking a moving truck here in Arizona and hauling boxes around to their proper rooms for unpacking. At that point we had only lived together for nine months of our marriage, a mere 18% of our (wedded) relationship. Yes, I did the math.

Overall, I think the last few months have been ones of adjustment, for each of us individually and also for the (capitalized!) Us. Some pieces have been easy, and others have….not been easy.

A few weeks ago Blue Eyes was assigned another out-of-town project. He’s a civil engineer and his line of work includes building things like roads and bridges, wind and solar fields, dams and mines. Shockingly, the places where that kind of project exist are not often close to home, they are in the middle of Nevada, or a Man Camp (of sorts) in western Utah, or a large flat-ish spot a stone’s throw from Mexico: basically, the middle of nowhere.

I know a lot of women have their own out-of-town business travel, or are married to spouses who travel often for work for a week (or more) at a time. But somehow this feels…different. I sometimes feel like each of our careers have left us as ships passing in the night, sometimes a wave or a Morse code signal, but the vast majority of the time we lead very separate lives. He is out of town for work, I spend a quarter of my time back in Salt Lake for my job. We choose to stay together and we both make sacrifices to that end, but dammit, sometimes it is really hard! I know there is a time and a season for everything, this particular season just keeps on going and going.

How would it be to both be home by 5:30 every night, leaving work at work and being able to spend our time building on and adding to our relationship? How would it be to somehow find ourselves on a similar sleep schedule, instead of me wide awake hours after he’s zonked out, and him leaving the house hours before I can fathom opening an eyelid. When you truly only have a few hours a week to spend with your spouse how do you prioritize that time? For years we’ve intentionally tried to do as many of our errands and boring maintenance or repair projects on our own time so that the few hours a week we have together aren’t spent doing our individual errands. Projects that require four hands instead of two are usually earmarked for our time together, but that time being at a premium means that they usually takes months longer than anticipated.

The other side-effect, it seems, is that we continue to live and even expand the parts of our lives where we are on our own. I don’t know if I’m explaining this very well, but I do my thing during the week, he does his thing, and then we spend a day or two together on the weekend that feels like vacation, kind of, but isn’t, really. It’s “Real Life” when we are together, but not our regular day-to-day life which we spend primarily alone.

Does this make sense? I’m almost beyond hoping that somehow (magically) we will both have 8-5 jobs in the same geographic area and can spend our evenings AND weekends together. It would require huge changes in both our chosen careers, and as “legit” adults that is much easier said than done. Not impossible, I understand, but “Just get a new job!” is a flippant and REALLY insensitive response to a very complex problem.

So, in lieu of such a solution, we both need to work on figuring out how to merge our lives and maintain some key commitments. It’s not impossible. But, dammit, it’s not easy.

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Going the distance

A few weeks ago Blue Eyes and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary by unloading a moving truck and hauling boxes to all the appropriate rooms in our Arizona house. We didn’t have a fancy dinner, or share a dessert, there were no flowers or cards or presents exchanged. I’m pretty sure we both collapsed from exhaustion and snored like elephants all night and woke up complaining of our aches and pains. Clearly, we’re super romantic and stuff.

(These are not the kinds of anniversary blog posts that win followers and earn sponsorships; just keeping it real over here. )

Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been together for almost five years, married for four, and when I do the math, my calculations tell me that we have lived in the same state for only 9 months.

Nine. Months.

To recap: Blue Eyes is a civil engineer, the kind who is in charge of building roads and bridges, pipelines and dams. He knows how to accurately use dynamite to blow up a mountain, he knows how to set up a power plant sub-station and manage the building of a power line hundreds of miles long. He is a Manly Man in every possible way. (He also lets me paint his toenails and routinely wins Dance Dance Revolution battles with his 11-year old daughter. So, there’s that.) These Manly Man work projects do not often exist within a medium-size established city. They exist in the far flung corners of the deserted West. So, that is where he has worked–for years. I’d see him most weekends (work schedule and time with his kids, depending), and we’d talk, text, and gchat constantly throughout the week. The last 14 months while he’s been in Arizona it has just been to expensive to fly back and forth that often and at over 700 miles the drive takes all dang day, and then some. For the most part, we’ve seen each other twice a month, sometimes more, a few times less.

Is it ideal?  No. Is it something I’d recommend? Not particularly. Did we make it work? Yeah. Mostly.

We have been long distance for so much of our relationship it’s hard to even imagine what it will be like living together. After years of living apart we will finally share the same house. I’m going to see my sweetheart every day, and we will eat dinner together. We’ll be able to watch our favorite shows curled up together instead of watch an episode and then have a phone conversation about it. We’ll share chores and a million little moments throughout the week that just cannot happen when you live several hundred miles apart for years at a time. We’ll be able to support each other better through our individual struggles and, and celebrate the accomplishments and milestones face-to-face. Every. Day.

Image created for me by Ashley Collett Design.

You guys, the long-distance thing is almost over. I hardly even know what to say about that, words do not suffice.

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