And so we drop the kids off with friends and sneak away, giddy to be on an actual dinner date for the first time in... umm... a year. Our last dinner date was for real our last anniversary. We eat homemade pizza in the back of the old car we're driving, so old that you can actually see the ground through the floor at spots. The intimacy is in the conversation, because we can't even hold hands in this culture. We indulge in scandalous knee-touching when no one can see us.
Then we did what I'd asked to do – go to the old restaurant built like a pier over the water, where the food isn't good but the homemade ice cream is great. It had been rainy and gray so I nearly had us switch plans at the last minute, but the sound of waves is calming even if there isn't a sunset, so we went anyways, and then of course it was absolutely amazing. We sat on the pier with no railing because we are in a land with no safety standards. The sunset, the water, the canoes, the Papuan mountains looming in the distance... amazing. I thought it was raining because I saw the light of droplets falling into the water, and then realized the light was actually the occasional flash of a fish among the thousands swimming around us. A school would occasionally leap out of the water together.
We remember, remember our dating days in frozen Chicago, walking out among the first snow after all nighters at our respective jobs. Hundreds of cups of coffee and hours spent at Starbucks, and Isaac's nervousness to ask me, in that Starbucks on Rush, if I'd be his girlfriend. How a honeymoon road trip staying wherever we wanted felt so luxurious, in hotels that we'd now consider mid-range. That's the benefit of marrying young – everything is new and wonderous together. We remember our first downtown apartment, and second, and then the feeling of utter luxury of moving to Dallas and finding an apartment with both a washing machine and a dishwasher and carpet! We remember holding both of our children for the first time, family walks in the country, watching the rain fall on our porch.
10 years is significant, a real marker. If we live an average lifespan, though, we are just getting started. Because people always change, marriage is sometimes about learning to love … again, because you are different and they are different and life is different. Who we were when we met was different than who we were when we got married. Who we were as newly weds getting settled is different than who we are now, in this stage of young children and ministry. Each stage has new challenges. What about when your spouse is deeply discouraged... for a long time? How do we find agreement on disciplining our children? How do we make a marriage that thrives in this season of small people? When we have grown frustrated with each other, how do we turn the tide back to tenderness?
We have learned how to love and we learned again and we are learning again now. There are stages when it's easy and stages when it's harder. Right now is one of those really contented and thankful stages, beginning a new life in a new culture and language, united in purpose, feeling like we're always on this crazy adventure together, and when we're overwhelmed or lonely, thankful for having each other to cling to.