Rob’s writing a song. He sits on the bow, bent over the small nylon-string guitar we bought in Panama City, humming softly to himself: “Duh duh duh, dum dee dum dum, ba-daaaaaa.” I smile as he ends with a flourish. Rob’s only been playing guitar for two months, but the little ditty he invented has a catchy rhythm and clear chords. I have no doubt the soon-to-emerge lyrics will be clever, too.
That’s my husband, I think proudly to myself.
I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I say that word. We married each other one year ago today, in a sunny park along a cold river in the center of hundreds of family and friends. We vowed to explore the world and ourselves together. Making music together is just one of the many explorations we’ve undertaken this year, but — to me — it represents so much about our relationship. The willingness to try new things, the desire to be creative, the ability to take risks and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the search for beautiful moments, the patience to teach and to learn, the ease with which we find humor in the mundane.
These are the things I treasure about my husband. About being a wife. About living together in small spaces in a vast world.
I was only mildly surprised when Rob turned to me a week into our Pacific crossing (once his seasickness wore off) and asked me to teach him how to play guitar. “My aunt told me I should try and learn something new on our sailing trip,” he said. “I figure I’ve got time, I love music, and I’ve got a teacher right here.” Many people don’t choose to learn new things at age 37. But Rob isn’t most people.
My husband is special, and I celebrate that fact on more days than just today. Out here in tropical ocean land, days in a row go by where I feel even more in love with him than I did on our wedding day. A few nights ago, as we discussed the many decisions facing us over the next months and the many decisions we’ve already made, Rob said to me: “I feel like the our relationship has been the most sure thing about our whole trip.”
I know exactly what he means. In the midst of queasiness, constant change, wonderful moments and horrible ones, Rob and I have depended heavily on each other. We can’t turn to friends and family, as we normally do. And we can’t just take a walk when one of us gets frustrated, either. It’s all or nothing out here. I marvel at how well we mesh, how well we’ve learned to navigate unknown circumstances, how quickly we adjusted to spending almost every minute of the day together.
Sure, there are plenty of times when we snapped at each other this past year, or when I wanted nothing more than to spend the day alone. That’s just life. But, amazingly, the more days that go by, the more we accept each others’ faults, moods, needs, mistakes.
Here are the simple things I cherish about him today, in this moment, on our anniversary, anchored off a lush island on someone else’s boat, at the beginning of our adventure together across the biggest ocean on the planet.
– He cooks one-pot wonders in record time, and makes sure I always eat enough.
– He can fix just about anything.
– He starts new ideas with, “Hey, Bri, do you know what we should do?” and I smile in anticipation each time, not knowing what the hell he might say next.
– He does what he wants, and means what he says.
– He pats my butt absentmindedly whenever he walks by.
– He has a pretty cute butt of his own.
Tonight, on our first anniversary, there will be fireworks. Not just the romantic kind, either — real ones that bang and boom. French Polynesia is conveniently helping us celebrate by throwing a huge party. It’s Bastille Day, and France is rocking out to celebrate their own anniversary of freedom and representative governance. The party might even be as good as our wedding in Missoula. We’ll be happily swimming in wedding day memories today (just like 30 of us swam naked in the river downtown after the reception): cupcakes and carousels and musicians and magic. Kind words, smiling babies, hula hoops, rap-toasts, elk meat and dancing. Good times.
We haven’t seen a carousel, elk or a rapper in months. We’d pay a lot of money to dance again with all of our friends. But we’re celebrating the fact that we’ve still got the magic, and we’ll renew our promise to keep making music together.