Somehow, for every year of my significant life so far, this month – and specifically, the first week of this month – is always special to me.I say significant year because I feel like life was kind of just a really long fun amusement park ride until the teen years when all of a sudden your heart starts feeling crap and you don’t know what to do with your hair.
This week is possibly my favorite week of the year in some ways. The first week of July. I started dating my hubs back when I was a starry eyed, hopelessly confused 17-year-old this week. It was the week we started hanging out alone, without our friends around. We held hands for the first time. Kissed for the first time. Our dates weren’t even real dates by conventional standards, we were so crazy broke back then we would just go on long drives around town and find beautiful places to stop and just talk for hours. I should also mention this was in the middle of the night, as it was the only time we could see each other. He worked during the day and I had an obnoxiously early curfew. So I would sneak out at around midnight and off we’d go. Those first few nights were just ours, and they were so magical. We would walk around empty parks lit only by the stars, and drive with all the windows down listening to the Kings of Leon on repeat. We’d watch thunderstorms roll in and wait till the very last second to get caught in the rain, just to get soaked in the warmth. And we had big talks. Talks that needed to be talked about. Getting all our junk and dreams out on the table. Becoming vulnerable to another person. To this day, those first few long conversations we had are some of the most significant I’ve ever had with my husband.
The 4th of July that year was the first day that he and I hung out in a group of friends, open about our relationship. It was a big step at the time. And every 4th of July since then we have tried to celebrate big. The next year we went to our favorite hill and watched the fireworks from all around town. Great photos from that one. Further up the hill, a group of dumb kids set fire to the field and we watched them all drive off leaving it to burn. We got up the hill and the fire was a good 20 feet in diameter so we knocked on every door in the huge mansion-like houses nearby and finally got one couple to call the fire department. While we waited out the situation, we had a really significant conversation with the older couple. We were complimenting them on their beautiful big house and they said something I’ll never forget. “We were just like you two, what feels like not so very long ago, though I suppose it was. The dreams you have for your future together right now? Don’t ever give up on them. Don’t let the world get to you and tell you they won’t come true. This house was our first dream, and it finally came true for us. It will for you too.”
Last year might have been my favorite so far. Hubs and I had originally planned for our wedding to be July 5, 2014. Day after our favorite holiday, and day before our official dating anniversary. It was perfect. But Air Force intervened and was like hey, you’re shipping off to Basic Training in February and if you get married now, you guys will get crazy separation pay. So we went from a 9 month engagement to a 6 week one, and got hitched in January. Hubs was then in training for 7 months that year, in Texas. I got to go see him twice – once when he graduated from Basic, and then again in San Antonio for our favorite weekend of the year.
It was hot and crazy crowded there but such a great trip. We got to watch a huge fireworks show downtown, and everyone just walked out into the street to watch it. We ate really good food too. But the best night was the night of the 5th when we went to this really expensive steak restaurant called Bohannan’s. I’m talking, you take an elevator up to the restaurant fancy. I’m talking the waiter asks you what kind of water you’d like. I’m talking no way in a million years would we seriously be able to afford eating there again. The food was incredible. Best steak I’ve ever had in my life. I wore a really stunning red dress, pearls, and my wedding shoes. We kept getting smiles from other couples. Hubs was in his dress blues. Super romantic, just amazing. I don’t know how to not let the story run on forever so I’ll just cut to the point – someone paid for our entire check. AND THEN someone gave us a $100 gift certificate to the restaurant. AND THEN someone gave hubs a $20 in the bar after dinner. AND THEN the guard at the parking garage let us leave without having to pay for parking. All in all, it was around $400 of blessings we received that night. It was insane. I couldn’t stop crying. We were just speechless. It was so special that on the night we had always planned to get married, this crazy wonderful series of events occurred. It was simply magical.
Every year this week has been like that. A divine appointment, a significant conversation, a seriously magical moment – all memories that just compound upon each other and leave me feeling this … weird … feeling in my heart every time this week rolls around. I started to feel it last night, and I got all emotional and woke Hubs up to talk through some hard feels I was having about missing home. I bawled. Knoxville is where this week was so special for us. It’s so hard right now to not be surrounded by places and people and memories of it all. I know our future is meant to be us out here in these weird places fighting it all out. I know that. I just miss everything, every this week in our past. And it’s obviously hard not to compare and worry that this year won’t be as special as any of the ones before.
But still, I have this weird wonderful feeling in my heart this week. Every song I hear all of a sudden is telling the same story. The smells outside are making me catch odd intangible memories from years ago I didn’t know I had. I look at my husband and see not just his face but every day of our life together for the past 6 years. I see his boyish 19-year-old smile. I see the fireworks’ light flashing colors of red and blue in his eyes. I hear cicadas. I see every star in the sky. I love this country a little stronger. I appreciate his sacrifice a little more. And I feel a love unlike any I could have for another person, or place. Because it’s like the love of home – it’s not necessarily one place or one house that you miss – it’s an ever-evolving, formless sense of completion and promise.
That’s my love for him. And it is just multiplied and magnified every year, this first week of July.