a decade of snapshots

We stood outside the doors of our church's youth group. It was a Wednesday, the very last day of November. Sitting on the edge of the window while our friends filed past, he asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. 

We were doing English homework on the couch in his living room, timidly scooting closer and closer without being too obvious. He leaned in and kissed me. Our eyes quickly darted back to our respective papers, and my stomach turned to knots. 

It was Valentine's Day. He filled my locker with lemonade Capri Suns and cookie dough Pop-tarts, because I thought chocolate and flowers were lame. 

In an antique store in Oxford I found two small mannequin statues and fell in love. He bought them after I walked back out onto the street and surprised me.  

Two and a half years in, we'd been fighting a lot. We sat on the over-sized arm chair in my bedroom. Just a few months earlier we'd spent an entire weekend painting it the perfect shade of eggplant. Now we we're breaking up. 

It was senior prom. We went in the same group, with different dates. 

We'd been apart for a year, but we still met up occasionally to talk. I would cry. He would listen silently. 

He moved away, and we both started college. We settled into new lives that had nothing to do with one another. The space gave us the clarity we needed. One Tuesday night in April he called after I got home from watching Lost with friends. He asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend, again.

This year will mark ten years since that November night when we first started dating. We are both completely different people now. It's a hard thing to grow up with someone the way we have with each other. From learner's permits and homecoming dances to navigating the first year of marriage and having a baby. We haven't always handled those changes well. Sometimes it feels impossible to reconcile who we were then and now. But then there are those quiet moments when I look at him and all I see are the countless ways that loving him has made me better. In those moments, I can only hope that I've given him even half the strength and courage that he's given me. 

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