As I’ve grown up, life has defined and redefined what it means to love and be loved many times. When I was younger, I had this expectation stubbornly lodged in my mind that true love means everything flows naturally. I thought that true love meant that everything in the relationship would fit together and just work. I thought that with the right person, we would move together through life in perfect harmony, even when conflicts and challenges arose. I didn’t expect relationships to be easy, and I didn’t expect life to be perfect, but I definitely had this expectation that certain things would just make sense and work on their own.
The reality I’ve come to know is that love isn’t built on some magical and mysterious force that makes your relationship fall into place effortlessly. Maybe something magical and mysterious brings you together, but after that, the real bedrock of love is built on choices. Love is making the choice every day to never give up on each other, even when life tries to tear you apart and even when you disappoint each other.
In my journey, love isn’t love because you are instantly on the same team about everything. Love is learning what it means to be on the same team.
Love isn’t about finding the person where every aspect of your relationship fits together perfectly and naturally. Love is being together in spite of the things that don’t, because that person means so much to you.
Daniel and I went on our first date in 2010 in Charlottesville, Virginia. It didn’t take long before I knew that something was very special about him. He is unbelievably observant. He’s slow to anger and incredibly patient. He is kind to everyone, and goes out of his way to treat all of my friends and family like they’re special. He listens attentively to everything I say (and remembers it!), does chores around the house without being asked, cooks better than I do, takes blog photos without a single complaint, and loves and cares for my dogs as much as I do.
We’ve been through so, so much together in the past not-quite-6 years, from school pressure to long distance to a dislocated elbow in a strange town to unemployment to my picky eating making dinner dates difficult. We even survived 3 straight days of driving without so much as an argument. He’s taught me so much about what love is and so much about how to be a better partner and a better person.
When we went to Yosemite this year, Daniel secretly stashed a beautiful ring in his backpack. Several years ago, I had found an indie designer, Olivia Ewing, and shared her designs with him because I thought they were so pretty and unique. After all those years of saving her name, he picked out this beautiful sapphire ring, which is designed to look like two intertwined twigs. I don’t care for diamonds or flashy jewelry, so this simple but unique ring is just perfect for me.
When we hiked to the top of Yosemite Point, he asked me if I would marry him and be with him forever. Over the years, we’ve said yes to each other through every trial, so of course I said yes then, too. If you read about the hike when I first wrote about it, you might remember that we had to trek through snow to find this spot. It was a special moment since we not only had total solitude, but also because finding it at all was a challenge that we figured out together.
The funny thing is, I didn’t even know my own ring size, so there was no one he could ask and no way he could find out without being obvious. So he guessed! I was nervous to put it on since it’s a bit of a buzzkill for it to just not fit, but to our surprise, it fits perfectly. Can you believe it? Because I still can’t.
As for what’s next, a traditional wedding isn’t for me, for both personal and pragmatic reasons. Fortunately, Daniel was totally on board with my reasoning. In lieu of the usual wedding fanfare, we’ll go back to Yosemite this fall for a private ceremony with a small handful of family members. After a few days in Yosemite, we’ll be heading to New Zealand for our honeymoon. It’s hard to say which part I’m most excited about!
Thank you for reading this sappy little diversion from the usual active fashion fare and for sharing in my joy. :)