The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

June 22, 2011

One decade

Ten years ago today, John and I were married. The wedding was in a Catholic church in our neighborhood in Michigan. The reception was just down the street on the grounds of an old mansion. It was outdoors, under a lit-up white tent, surrounded by green grass and candlelight. It rained during the ceremony, briefly, but it stopped just before we exited the church in a gentle storm of bubbles and cheers. Wine flowed at the reception. There was a lot of laughing, especially at the toasts. The dance floor was full at all times. The blessings of that night were so amazingly great I could not wrap my arms around them. I couldn’t fathom the joyfulness.

Ten years ago, I was 25 and John was 26. (Where we lived in western Michigan, we felt we were on the “older side” to be getting married; we’d already attended many, many weddings together.) He was a staff accountant who’d just passed his CPA test. I worked in corporate communications and had recently graduated from filing papers and proofreading emails to editing and writing for employee publications. I was Catholic and John was Christian Reformed.

After our wedding, he moved into my one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a rambling old Victorian house. A raccoon lived in the turret above our bed. We had no Internet connection. I had been wanting to move to Chicago for awhile, and John, who had never left his hometown, not even for college, was game. We looked for jobs, combing the classifieds at work and at the local library’s computers. By late fall, after a few trips around the lake to interview, we’d found work at a CPA firm and an academic press. We moved to the city on Nov. 30, 2001.

Our first apartment had huge windows and one tiny bedroom. When the back window was open, you could hear the crowds cheering at Wrigley Field. During our two years there, we started to put down roots in Chicago. We settled into our jobs. I began attending grad school for a master’s in writing. We decided to become Episcopalians together. We went to Wrigley bars, and we discovered “new” food—Thai! Middle Eastern! I started to run along the lakefront. When the woman who owned our apartment decided to sell it, we decided to move and buy a condo of our own.

We relocated about a mile and a half north. Two bedrooms now, and central air, and free washers and dryers in the basement! We’d stay in this building for six years, becoming close friends with several of our neighbors and getting involved in our block club. John was promoted, then promoted again. I started a new job at a marketing/publishing firm. We had Moose, our beloved greyhound; he lived with us there for four years, until bone cancer took him. Stella joined us a few months later. I graduated with my MA. John brewed homemade beer. I realized I could run three miles at a time, and we started doing 5K races together. We celebrated our fifth anniversary. We turned 30.

The housing market fell, the government offered a credit to first-time homebuyers, and we decided to sell, and to stay in the city. We fell hard for a place just a bit west of us, and the stars aligned, and it was meant to be, and we sold our first condo and bought our second. Three bedrooms, our own washer and dryer, and the huge deck we’d been wanting for years. It was our dream home, and after almost two years there, it still is. In it we’ve watched Stella blossom into a dog who’s no longer afraid of her own shadow. We’ve entertained friends, planted flowers, and mowed the (OK, very small) lawn. And we made the decision to become parents through adoption.

In the past ten years, we have traveled to the Outer Banks, New Hampshire, Key West, Colorado, New York, St. Augustine, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. The British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas. France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy. Next year, Korea.

Of course, I can’t fully describe a decade in one online post. In the past ten years, we have laughed a lot. We have felt grateful. We have worried, and cried, and faced some hard things. But we’ve still, always, felt grateful.

Now, on June 22, 2011, we are 35 and 36. We are both managers. (We have gone through ten married tax seasons together.) I’m a half-marathoner. John is an accomplished guitar player. We’re better cooks, we’re more well traveled, we have different ideas about religion than we used to, although we’re still at the same moderate-liberal spot politically. My hair is grayer, John’s is a little more sparse, and both of us have laugh lines around our eyes. Although we’re healthy and in good shape, I should say that my back hurts if I stand at a concert for too long.

I have a partner who is adventurous, patient, understanding, fun, honest, loyal, and supportive. He is a man who is going to be everything our child could want in a father. I look at the past decade, feel extremely satisfied with it, and feel excited to turn the page. I will never stop realizing how lucky I am to turn that page with him.

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Blogger kelly said...

I absolutely loved reading this post. You are a wonderful writer and have managed to capture, in just a few short paragraphs, a decade of your lives so well. Happy Anniversary! Your eleventh year will bring your biggest (and best) change of all :)

12:44 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Wow, this is absolutely beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. I loved getting a glimpse into your life "before" and it makes me even more excited to follow your journey from here on. I agree with Kelly... the eleventh year is going to rock!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Jessamyn said...

I loved reading this, too. Happy anniversary, Amy! I feel lucky to get to follow along on yours & John's continuing adventure, and I'm grateful to know you!

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your beautiful post reminded me of the wonderful Mike Royko column linked above.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

What a lovely and enjoyable post to read! I agree - the food options this city provides was eye-opening to me, too.
The foundation for any happy family is to have compatible, easy going partners steering the ship (IMO) and you and John fit that role perfectly! Happy anniversary! ps - did you get a little goose bump-y when you wrote "Next year, Korea" I did!

12:24 PM  

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