I am (a woman and) a writer, and also your wife; naturally you’re used to me throwing stories about you hither and thither across the Internet. I hope you appreciate—or at least forgive me for—the fact that everyone can see this anniversary letter (almost as much as you appreciate the handmade “Bob’s Burgers”-themed card I probably tucked into one of your enormous cami pockets when you left for work this morning). It’s just, I started off writing a piece about “first year of marriage guidance” before realizing that it sounded entirely cringeworthy, so here we are. But anyways. Happy anniversary, darling! We can officially say we derped it all the way to one year.
So much has happened in a year. 365 days ago, we were unemployed and living in sunny San Diego, and now we’re… well, here (thanks, Drake). Now we’re living in our own fairly gorgeous apartment, you’re a Marine officer, and we’re on the opposite side of the continent. I’m still writing, but I can now say I’m “a” writer. I get money for writing things about things! We both did good. I’m going to pat us on the back. Pat pat pat.
I remember how strange it was for us, this time last year, when we realized we were going to be husband and wife. You added me as “The Wife” in your phone, because it was funny, because I was your wife. And remember when we realized that I was going to be “Amy Byrne?” Byrne? Amy Byrne. Amybyrne. It’s a good name, but it didn’t quite roll off the tongue like Amy Longworth did. Amylongworth. I remember when I said I’d keep “Longworth” as my pen name, and you didn’t object, but I could see in your face that you wanted me to be proud of your name, of our name. I took your name because I’m proud to be part of our new little family. A year later, we’re used to it now, I think, but we still laugh about how friends we’ve met in the past year have a very particular way of addressing me as “Amy Byrne” only. It rolls off the tongue.
We joke because we’re still just large children in most respects. I can’t control my limbs and have a habit of knocking everything over. You’re never happier than when you’re watching “Adventure Time” with a pack of gummi worms in hand. We’re freaked out by other married couples our age who seem so much more squared-away than we are. We have so many in-jokes that we might as well have our own language. And remember that time we went to see “How To Train Your Dragon 2” at 10 p.m. with my purse stuffed with Dollar Tree candy and were the only people in the theatre, and realized that being an adult is fucking awesome because we can do that just because? We have money and a car and an apartment but we get to do all the best things. We’re just a pair of giant children, and I love it.
I mean, OK, we did have to grow up a bit. Or a lot. There are Other People (!) reading this, and I wouldn’t want to give them the impression that marriage is “easy,” because you and I both know that it isn’t. We have to think about money. We have to share money. I buy you shave gel and bagels on my way home from work because you forget those things, and you buy me hair serum and face powder because you’re nice. You suggested we “pay for our own shit” a few weeks ago and I flipped out because we’re not roommates, we’re husband and wife, but you only said that because we don’t quite have enough money and you were trying to budget. We get our wires crossed and we fight about peripheral things, like adults. But we make up because we’re adults, too.
Speaking of arguments. When you agreed to love me for better or worse, I don’t think you realized quite how bad my “worst” is. I have been nothing short of demonic at times. If I were on my own, my mood swings would mostly just involve drinking wine and sulking, but now that you’re here they involve drinking wine and sulking with you. Or yelling. Or crying. Or a vicious combination of all three. And I always manage to conjure up some excuse, like how you always put your beer bottles by the bin and not IN the bin, or, even worse, I tap into that residual bitterness from mistakes we made a long, long time ago. I can’t excuse that. I feel thoroughly ashamed at the amount of times I’ve gone too far. I think this is something that many women can relate to—not all, but some—but even so, that doesn’t justify the crippling guilt I feel when I know that I’m accidentally abusing your good spirit. I love you, but my arbitrary mood swings shouldn’t mean I berate you.
See, I didn’t realize this a year ago, but there are a lot of promises that aren’t explicitly stated in one’s marriage vows, that would sound incredibly mundane and probably quite alarming to a wedding party, so you have to dive in and learn them over time. “For better or worse” is lovely, of course, but vague; one year later, I understand that that means “I’ll bring you soup when you’re sick,” and “I won’t act like a raging bitch every time you leave your dishes in the sink.” Unless I’m missing something, I’d say we’re fully compatible—functional, even—but there are still going to be days when we’re sick of one another and they have to try really hard to be nice, despite the PMS and the bad day at work and the fact I want to go out and you want to stay in. And when this happens, we put our big kid pants on and give each other some space, or talk it out, or compromise, or forget it and just Be Nice. Well, that’s what we ought to do. We’re still learning. I don’t think that most “grown ups” know how to do this properly. But we’ll try, because I know now that marriage isn’t a “happily ever after,” it’s a constant work in progress.
Don’t get me wrong, though: if marriage is work, it’s work that I love. We’re the kind of people that say “I love you” a lot, and I love that. We get into human tangles (probably because your arms are so damn long) and laugh about ridiculous things and talk about everything. Spending time with you is, quite honestly, my favorite thing to do. You’re silly and fun, and you teach me about things. You make me smarter. Without even realizing it, you say the wisest things. It’s immensely pleasing to know you so well, and yet still be blown away by your small acts of kindness and your curious spurts of intellect. And the fact you—lovely you—are somehow drawn to me—stupid me—is the most gorgeous twist of fate.
You know every damn thing about me. Well, almost. You know how people who use semi-colons in text messages make me want to bash my head against a wall. You know precisely how I need my coffee, exactly what my Chipotle order always is, and exactly which kind of wine I love most (and where it comes from). You love me when I can’t shift the dreaded Ten Extra Pounds, and you still see a woman you love when I’m so early-morning-ugly that most rational humans would be startled at the sight of me (and wonder where my eyebrows went). You are the only person who wouldn’t make me feel weird for eating a punnet of mushrooms every day, just because I love mushrooms. You’re the only person who sees me cry because I miss home. You’re the only person who makes me laugh in the exact uncontrollable way that I laugh when you do the airplane man voice. And, after all these years, you still get an adorable kick when I say things like “ice lolly” and “how dare you.”
When we got engaged, I didn’t know if there was anything else I could know about you, but I was wrong. I know that if I ever think I’ve sussed you out, I’ll still be wrong. The first year has taught me that the most delightful part of marriage is understanding another human as perfectly and completely as one ever could, which is still never quite enough, and being fascinated in the process. Thank you for choosing me to be that person. To be your person. Cheers to us, for picking each other. And cheers to trying hard, learning lots, laughing hard, getting wrinkly, and eating Chipotle twice a week forever.