We went both mornings without our dog. Just us, with warm drinks in hand and the opportunity to walk slowly and talk deeply. To take our time and take the morning in. And take each other in, too.
This photo above is not from either of these last two mornings. The photo is from an early winter morning - of which there are many - when Nava wakes me up close to 6:00 each day and I dress quickly in layers of winter leggings and sweatpants, three shirts, a fleece jacket, a hat and mittens and my hiking boots. Garth comes with me when he can. When his mornings are not full with calls to India or consulting meetings in Australia or Canada. Then he too dresses in his layers against the cold, before the sun rises, and we take our alert and ready to play Doberman and walk the barren beach.
I love the beach on mornings like this. We are the only ones. Either Garth and Nave and me, or just me and my dog. Sometimes there are fishermen there, perched up above the sand when the tide is so high that there is no place to walk without the ocean covering my shoes with salty water. Sometimes the fishermen settled closer to the sea, in low tide then, spaced apart as if they measured their distance to each other though I know they did not.
Nava pays no attention to them. She is more interested in the smells that wash up from the beach each night waiting for her gifted nose to track them down. And always, as in every time, she finds a tennis ball which I quickly hide in my pocket. Our walk comes first, then we play ball.
So in this photograph above, which looks cold not just by my bundled up husband but by the colors of the sky and sea, it is a before the ball playing part of our morning walk together. I wanted a photograph of my husband by the ocean as I wrote about our weekend together. But I did not bring my phone with me to the beach this weekend to capture him there.
So here you have this one instead.
This was a special weekend for us. We had those kinds of conversations that are sweet and honest. It started with an acknowledgement that we were in our thirtieth year of marriage. That this July 3d, this would be thirty years since I wore a dress that I picked out because it reminded me of what someone would wear during the civil war and that was the look I was going for. Thirty years since I looked out the window from the big house as I was getting ready to walk down the aisle, only to see my husband-to-be swimming in the ocean. Thirty years filled with the gift of three miraculous children and infinite adventure and challenging times and poignant moments and so much laughter. And lots of dancing.
But this is not what I spoke about when we spoke this last two days on our walk in the warmth of the mid morning beach sun. I spoke about our last year and a half.
Marriage is funny. We mark each year and honor that date that started it all and fall into our cultures boundary of how we celebrate. And so the counting of the years is a big thing. A milestone that we reach each year and that we then check off our calendars, whether real ones or the one that keeps track in our minds. And we hold significance to that which the world holds significance, too.
But that did not resonate with me this last two days on our walks and talks as the sun warmed our hearts to each other. Yes, being married thirty years is very cool. A long time, a lot of compromise, an awful lot of growing that wasn't always at the same time or in the same direction or sometimes something neither of us liked very much about the other, and still we were right here, walking this beach. And so to notice the length of time together, I am not saying that this is not something special to do. But what really makes me proud, and what I spoke about aloud and shared with this man that I love more today than any day before, is who we have become this last year and a half.
We became our own people this past year and a half. We learned that we were not merged. That those images and words that are used to connote the success of a couple - the "you complete me's" and the "we are one" and the "I can't live without you's" are not the images and do not capture the essence of who we are or who we want to be with each other.
This year and a half was an amazing year for us because we held space and allowed each other to grow in our own ways, with no expectation from each other. There was no judgement. There were no shoulds. We just were. And we shared the journey with each other. We shared how we felt. We tried out new things and explored when the other got triggered. We took self-care and spent a lot of time alone. And we sat together, practicing breath work so that the taking in and letting go of air matched the intention of our hearts and the merging of our souls' song.
We learned vulnerability. He is better at it than me. But I am getting there, too. Especially when my heart is open and I have the time to just let it stand there, beating without worry and warmed by the sun.
And so it was this weekend on these two beach walks. My open heart met his as we talked the length of the sandy tide, and found a rock that was a bench and held our backs just right as we held the sun on our faces and his knees burned because his skin is too fair for sun of any kind.
We walked and talked and sat and our hearts held gently the beating of the other. And we honored this last year and a half. A small part of the length of the entirety of our thirty year marriage and the biggest part of all.