I think it telling that we are both amazed at how quickly four years have gone by since getting married, but also how it seems like we have known each other forever. I was thinking about how incredibly rich our lives are, and how much we have already been through as a couple and also as a family of...*gulp* FOUR! I guess it is the year of "fours." Fourth anniversary. Felix was born on the fourth of January rounding out our family of four. Number four may overtake our obsession with number eleven...Nah!
And let's just say we have certainly faced the "for worse" promise square in the face. Looking back over the past years, I have to admit that although I am amazed at how resilient we have been through two difficult pregnancies in less than two years and one battle with cancer, I am not surprised. Because, well, I think we absolutely rock as Team Heintz. (How's that for modesty?)
I'm not going to go all poeticwritinglikeIamcomposingmyvows in this post. I'll just stick to the facts without much fuss. Unfortunately, fuss does not equal brevity.
Here is the thing.
We've had what I call "pilot episodes" in our life. You know, those moments that would make GREAT television: proposing in a bathroom with 111 flowers, a redonkulously fun wedding, battling cancer during the first weeks of our newborn's life (don't you think an episode showcasing the cancer vixen mother pumping in the car of a hospital parking deck while her husband gets an 8 inch neck scar and 15% of his tongue removed during surgery would achieve great ratings?).
Here is the thing...continued. (I got sidetracked with my pilot episode commentary). Those moments aren't the only things that sustain a marriage. I think about all of the "episodes" that mean nothing to anyone else-that would not probably even inspire the local cable network or Hallmark TV to approach us for our story.
Everyone else: "Big whoop. You asked Ali to hold your glasses while you (stupidly) ran into the mosh pit at the 99x concert."
Ali: "Remember when we were totally crushing on each other and you selected me out of all of the people we were with to hold your glasses while you ran to the front of the concert to exchange sweat with a group of dirty boys banging into each other like fools? It was like Charlie Bucket getting the golden ticket. I knew I had an 'in' with you and felt honored. Warm fuzzies (that were quickly quelled by the stench of teen angst and stale, warm beer in solo cups.)" Break--I initially wrote sippy cups instead of solo cups and it didn't even phase me. Not until I read the post in its entirety did I have the "something's wrong here" thought.
Golly. I can just sputter off thousands of moments in our life (and I mean that in the singular form--our collective life) that I cherish, knowing they fall into the mundane for everyone else, but resonate so intensely with us. It's those snapshots of loving one another, hanging in our internal museums, that I feel defines our care for one another.
In recognition of our four years of marriage, four moments, pulled from my heart at random, to remember and enjoy.
Last night as we were driving home from visiting our friends' new baby girl, you said you felt bad about not having the opportunity of being able to play the "supportive husband role" during childbirth--the one who offers an arsenal of coping techniques--massage, focal points, chanting positive words of encouragement, pacing around the room, working for hours to bring a child safely into the world. Well, I hate to break it to you, but my uterus and I are actually thankful for the alternative. The 10 minutes of pushing is fine with me.
What you have failed to recognize are the months of support and encouragement you provided while I was living in the NICU with Miles, or in and out of the hospital while pregnant with Felix. You were a single father--putting Miles to bed every single night. Making all of his meals. Giving him baths. Shuttling him to and from childcare. Staying overnight with me at the hospital when you could, while still making sure he was taken care of by others. Writing what must have been at least 50 thank you notes (and let's be honest, guys aren't usually the first in line to write thank you notes) for all of the meals we received and help that was offered. I contend that you have taken on the role of supportive husband above and beyond most partners. And you rarely, if ever, complained.
Hands down the best moment: I was strapped to the bed with contraction and fetal heart rate monitors, wishing for a shower while rotting away in my hospital gown and slowly watching my legs turn into Sasquatch's...probably watching some smutty television program exposing Tiger Woods's 13th lover... and in barrels Miles and you in reindeer antlers. The head dressing was WAY too big for Miles, and I don't think he had any idea they were on his head as they were anchored by his standard red fleece winter hat. I had missed his school's Christmas party, so you came by with him to have our own celebration. I watched video of him singling jingle bells in his cute red corduroy shirt, we ate Christmas treats, and I watched you spin around in one of the hospital chairs with Miles, still adorned with those felt antlers, laughing throughout the whole "Turkish Twist" of a ride on your lap.
I'm pretty sure Felix was even smiling from the confines of my unruly uterus that afternoon.
When you first got the job at Marist, it almost felt like I was married to the president. I felt honored and so delighted that you got not only your dream job, but your dream coaching position. We had just gotten married, and things just seemed so easily to fall into place. At the end of your first XC season we also experienced our first Marist XC banquet, honoring the season. At that time I was sick as a dog, pregnant with Miles, and it took just about all of me to make it to that dinner. I remember all I could stomach were the bony chicken wings, something I never ate/eat. I felt terrible. Worst was no one knew I was pregnant, so I just sat there at the table of honor, while hundreds of runners and their families watched the coaches and their spouses eat. Just as I was about to fall face into my plate of chicken wings, you got up to give your first "head coach end of the year speech."
You started with the obligatory "what a great year...blah blah..." and then followed with, "the success of our season and of my coaching abilities is in large part due to my wife, Alison. I couldn't have done it without you."
Yes, I have gotten a thank you before when you made similar speeches at your old school, but the differences, outside of me being hormonal, was that: 1.) this was the first time in such a public way you referred to me as your wife, and 2.) you directed the second sentence to me, not to the crowd. "I couldn't have done it without her" versus "I couldn't have done it without you". When you looked straight at me and offered me that personal thanks, I had to hold back tears. Again. Mundane to everyone else, but one of the most touching moments in our relationship for me.
I'm pretty sure Miles was even smiling from the confines of my uterus that night. (Or maybe he just enjoyed a change of menu from bagels and lemonade.)
There was a time when we spent many weekends working the road race circuit. Our feet hit the Stone Mountain pavement weekly, and we were a fixture at the run around the rock races. It all started when you invited me to watch you run a race at Stone Mountain a few months after we first met. Nothing romantic was secured, but things were certainly set up in our favor. Okay, outside of that other guy I was kind of pursuing...but he wasn't nearly as fun, fast...or tall. :) I arrived at the race, watched you come through the finish line, dripping in hard work and a great 300 meter kick, and then it was decision time.
Hug, or no hug.
We hadn't even really hugged before. Well, outside of that tragically awkward night we first met in person, you in your aubergine Express button down, and me leaving Twains bar leaning down to you while you sat in a chair to give you a hug. It turned into a delightful headlock that I didn't know how to disengage, so I just cradled your head for a good 10 seconds. Back to the race: I took the plunge, leaned in to get a hug, and you stopped me:
Eric: "I'm all sweaty."
Ali: "I don't care!"
And then I redeemed myself from the wrestling move of a few weeks prior, and gave you a huge, stinky, sweaty hug. It.was.awesome. So awesome that later that night when you dropped me off at my townhome, I refused to get out of your blue jelly bean (aka Ford Focus) until you kissed me. And that is "ballsy" as they say because 1.) I actually had already gotten out, and then right before shutting the passenger door, jumped back in because I decided not to accept the casual good-bye when I knew you needed to man up and make a move, and 2.) Metallica was playing. Nuff said. I stepped out of your car about 2 minutes later, but much more satisfied.
Finally, a short and sweet one. I really feel as though I acclimated to your family at the time your sister got married. You were a groomsman, and I was honored to be a reader. We had just gotten engaged, and going to the wedding just got us both so excited for our own. I was quite emotional that weekend. I can't blame pregnancy hormones that time--just being in love!
As I walked into the sanctuary, getting ready to find my seat, I got a text message. Oops! I forgot to turn off my phone.
"Thank you for saying yes."
I was a goner. Straight to the bathroom to fix my mascara.
Such Great Heights (abbreviated)
The Postal Service, covered by my Brothers and Sisters-in-law as I walked down the aisle
The Postal Service, covered by my Brothers and Sisters-in-law as I walked down the aisle
I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles
In our eyes are mirror images and when
We kiss they're perfectly aligned
And I have to speculate that God himself
Did make us into corresponding shapes like
Puzzle pieces from the clay
True, it may seem like a stretch, but
Its thoughts like this that catch my troubled
Head when you're away when I am missing you to death
When you are out there on the road for
Several weeks of shows and when you scan
The radio, I hope this song will guide you home
They will see us waving from such great
Heights, 'come down now,' they'll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
'come down now,' but we'll stay...
Late night addendum: I had written this post a few days ago outside of the truncated song lyrics. And then today, a number of things happened that just reinforced why I married my soul mate. First, out of nowhere we were playing with the boys in the family room, listening to children's music. Eric stopped mid-song and started playing our wedding version of Such Great Heights. I'm not sure we have listened to it in years. Little did he know I had already planned for the song in the post. Second, as I am walking over to the dinner table tonight, I get a text message from Eric that says "I do."
It's like he knew the 4 moments I was going to write about.
You'd think we were married or something. ..