Memories are often triggered by a smell for me. The other day I put Thieves oils in my diffuser for the first time in a long time, and it put tears in my eyes. One of the first times I remember smelling that was when I knocked on my Grandma’s door and she was there to open it.
The smell of Classic Chapstick, the one with the black bottle, when I smell that and close my eyes, I swear I can still see my Grandpa exactly. Orange popsicles, too.
Gain detergent takes me back to when Kurt and I first started dating, when I would walk through his townhouse and pass his washing machine to get to his room.
Today, a memory popped up for me that I still remember so vividly, because of where I was sitting. I was on a therapy call, gushing about my husband (yes, seriously) and remembered that just a few feet to my left is where I was about 15 years ago when I got my heart broken for the first time.
If I’m being honest, I can still remember how that felt. My Mama sat there with me in mostly silence and just let me cry on her. She got up after a bit and said, “I’ll be right back.” When she came back downstairs, she was holding a little golden necklace that had a frog just as gold at the bottom of the chain. When she was heartbroken, her Mom gave her that necklace. When she met my Dad, she gave it to him. She told me, “Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. You’ll find him one day, Ginny, and it won’t hurt.” A piece of me believed her, and another piece didn’t.
While I don’t think the “kiss a lot of boys” part is the part she meant to focus on, I took that advice.
I got my heart broken again when I was 17, but this time was different. It was the first time I was in love. I don’t discredit that feeling because I was young; love doesn’t have a timeline of how old you have to be or how old it cuts off. It’s a feeling. When you feel that feeling, it’s intense. I still consider that person the first person I loved. I can still remember how deep it felt. It was different, though. In a weird way, it was painful before it was painful; like I knew from the get-go it would end badly. It was so much, so fast, with so much focus in areas that didn’t make for a healthy relationship, deep down, I knew that wasn’t a love that was made to last.
It was a love that was made to teach.
And it did.
With every end to every relationship, I would always say to myself in the back of my mind, “Just another frog.”
I have a vivid memory of writing a journal entry that started, “Dear Future Husband,” and spilling my guts to a man I’d never met, who my heart needed to believe I would find, to help me get through a lonely time of having two choices: 1. Be with someone who I did love, in a relationship with not much love poured into it 2. Be alone
While I wish I would’ve chosen the second, time and time again I chose the first until I’d had enough.
When I went to college, there were plenty of frogs. Ohhhhh so many of them.
I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, and a big piece of me knew I’d meet the man I’d marry in college. I don’t know why, but I really did have confidence in that, that I could feel in my gut.
Before I met Kurt, I wasn’t a friend of commitment. It was scary to me, so I really just preferred to keep things casual – at arms length – where I was in control of how long a relationship lasted, when we saw each other, how often (if I felt smothered, I’d run), etc.
I started to wonder if I’d ever find someone who would check all of the boxes, honestly.
I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of things about marriage, and honestly, the majority of them are negative. Things like: “Divorce is more likely,” “When the honeymoon phase ends…” “A love like the movies doesn’t exist.”
I refused to believe that. Refused. There had to be someone out there who could still give me butterflies years down the road. Someone who I loved to be around but it didn’t feel like suffocation, someone who I loved deeply without it hurting. A patient and kind love, not just at the beginning, but forever. FOREVER. Someone I could put up with for the rest of my life.
Surely… right? Surely, I’ll know it when I meet him.
And then one Thursday night after I’d made my friends late to the party we were on our way to when I couldn’t find my purse, I saw Kurt in the middle of the road. Before anyone said anything, I remember thinking, “Oh dang, he’s cute.”
They introduced us because we were the only strangers to each other (and I voiced my thoughts out loud to one of my friends).
He texted one of the girls when we walked away and asked if I’d be at the party they were going to, because he was interested in coming if so.
She said yes. I said heck yes.
Later, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he walked in. I pretended not to, but I was very aware he was there.
He initiated conversation when I pretended not to know I was right near him and.. I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that he would be the person I would marry. What I did know was that from the get-go we had an indescribable, undeniable chemistry. The conversations we carried that night, the flow of how easy he was to talk to, how genuinely he made me laugh… I thought about him when I went home. A lot.
I knew very, very quickly that there was something very different about him for me. While a lot of people couldn’t pinpoint the moment they fell in love with someone, because that term is made up of such a vast amount of events and conversations and time; I do remember the moment I looked at him and admitted to myself that I loved him.
It wasn’t like when I was 13 and huddled on a couch crying to my Mom.
It wasn’t like when I was 17 and it was painful.
It was… home.
Kurt was home.
I knew when I looked at him and told myself (I didn’t tell him) that I loved him, that I wanted to marry him.
He checked every box. Every. Single. One. He was (and is) so dang hot, and funny, genuine, and kind. He’s a good person, listens deeply, this man’s patience… how does any human being have that much patience? I still wonder this about him.
There’s a reason that sentence goes from past to present tense.
A piece of me was always so scared. Is what they say true? Will it all just fade away and become something else after time? Will it really not always feel like the movies? Since I don’t like commitment, will I suddenly be okay with a life-long one if it’s the right person? Is the honeymoon phase really the only time when things feel good? Will we turn on each other when we have kids in the mix?
And to all of that, every single piece:
I call bullshit.
We started officially dating in January of 2015. I’ve been with this man for eight years. Eight. Years.
I still catch him staring at me from across the room with a face that literally screams, “I love you.” And it still sends a spark down my body.
He asks me things daily like, “How have you felt today?” Not just how was your day, but how did you, deeply, genuinely, feel today?
He apologizes often, even in times when he isn’t the one who needs to.
He holds my hand and kisses me in public.
He grabs me by my face like it’s the first time we’ve ever kissed, all the time.
Every now and then he asks me things like, “Am I doing enough to help?” or “What more can I do for you?”
He is patient and kind in a way that I didn’t know truly existed in a partner.
He treats our kids like pure gold, which makes me love him even more.
He makes me GUT laugh, daily. Truly. The other day we stood in the living room and he was folding something and I was making fun of the way he packed his ham and we were standing there laughing hysterically.
Do you know how much fun life is with someone who will laugh about something as stupid as the way ham looks in a ziplock bag with you?
He still leaves me notes. Brings me coffee. Asks me on dates.
He offers for me to shower first so I can use the warm water if we accidentally ran the dishwasher too soon.
He brings me the last cup of coffee without telling me it’s the last cup, even though I know he wanted it.
I get genuinely giddy when his car pulls up in the driveway.
I have a memory of him helping put a diaper on me after my water broke, standing with me in between contractions, getting blood all over him, but his only concern is: Is Ginny okay?
I can still see him crying when I opened my eyes between contractions because he didn’t know how to help.
The heart-to-heart conversations that we have that very literally make my soul feel refreshed.
I found him. I found the partner who made me call bull on what everyone else says about marriage. My. Best. Friend. Who is also the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. The man who I’m not afraid to bring anything to because he really does offer me a safe, non-judgmental place to just be whatever I need to be. Who never points the finger at me. Who makes communication enjoyable and not fearful. Who says things like, “We’ll figure this out together,” and, “I’m here for whatever you need.” Who offers exponential happiness to my life that I cannot WAIT to have when we’re 80 years old, rocking on the porch, and laughing uncontrollably about something as stupid as ham.
I can feel his love. Every day. Even if he never said those words to me, I would know he does, because of how he treats me.
I was gushing about him to my therapist today. How much of a blessing it is to be in a marriage where no matter what self-work I’m doing, no matter what is on my heart, I have a place to bring that to, that is non-judgmental (therapy is more about tools for me – I already have someone who will listen).
I was saying all of that while sitting right next to that spot where my Mama held me and gave me her necklace.
You can probably guess who I gave that to.
We’ll give that necklace to our girls one day. When their heart is broken, I won’t downplay teenage love, but I’ll get to talk about marriage to them in a way that other people won’t. That love like you see in the movies is out there but it’s even better because it’s real. They’ll know. They will have seen it. We’ll joke about how the boy they’re crying over is just a frog, and how you know when someone is not just another frog.
When you meet that person you commit to forever to, you’re also handing them these parts of you that may feel sticky, that you hope they’re okay with. These are the people I’ve loved. These are my habits. These are my quirks. These are the things I hate. These are the things I love. These are my deepest fears, regrets, hopes. They hand you theirs, too. That may be the most vulnerable and simultaneously the most beautiful part of finding that person; they accept it all, because it’s you. And you accept it all, because it’s them.
He accepts me easier than I accept me.
After 8 years, do you know what he still says to me?
Sometimes I’ll catch him smiling at me and I’ll know what he’s about to say, but instead of guessing I’ll say, “What?”
And he’ll say, “I am so obsessed with you.”
Trust me, Thiele. I’m obsessed with you, too.