Today is a day where we place another tally mark up on the board. It’s three years to the day we stood on the top of that hill and waved goodbye to my dad, with tears in our eyes, as he headed back south to California with our hearts buckled right next to him and we began our adventure in this city of hippies, artists, food composters, seahawks, and fleece bearers.
We were on a journey to become the Bruce’s. Party of Two. Away from our comforts and families. Our paths excited and freshly raked for what God had in store. As almost any newlyweds would, we ventured out with fervor and great delight, hand in hand. We found the oh-so-famous pizza restaurant everyone “raved” about our first weekend here, vowed to never carry umbrellas when running errands on the weekends (as it’s a dead giveaway you’re not a local), and did our part of “going green” (in this mega recyclable city) by walking to the market, even in the rain, for groceries. It was you and I and this foreign city in a tiny apartment, against the world, against the rain, molding two lives into one, two names into one family, -building our own safe place.
Maybe it was two weeks in or perhaps two months when the novelties started to fade but I know that the rain became more than a drizzle and it was then that the rain and all other things really began to sink in. Each of us, separately and together, began wondering how long this Emerald City was in the cards for us. We longed for “home” in a place that felt completely foreign. As much as we desired to pack up at 6 months and then again at the end of year one and feebly return home we knew God was not finished with our Northwest symphony. So instead we clung tighter to each other, to Him, and inhaled knowing we’d need great breath to face more of our days here.
The cadence of our breath was no longer a factor when things began to rage. I believe location wasn’t a factor because had we been somewhere else we would have still been up against the rising waters. Perhaps things just seemed harder in the distant land we were in. We faced physical pain, financial hardship, deep emotional pain, severe illness, spiritual heartbreak, and loneliness to name a few. Yet, as much as one might think that might derail a couple we let it forge us into a force to be reckoned with. At the end of everyday, even if I met you with tears or an emotionally desolated heart, you’d hold my hand on that couch or we’d lay in bed with a window slightly cracked, listening to the rain- reminding ourselves that we were still sheltered from the storm. That He has kept us.
The week we returned from our honeymoon I claimed a song for us, a song for our life. The lyrics touched my soul. It spoke of a lifetime of marriage. How there will be love and pain. How there will be days of monotony, how we will be strong even when we are weak, and how fear will strike but joy will not be far behind. The song goes on to say we will live through so much more we could take, how there will be tears but also grace, and prayers we never thought possible to pray. And through it all, no matter what has been done and yet to come we will continue to say Amen.
I’d say this song fits us well. In 3.5 years of marriage and 3 years in the northwest we have faced our fare share of life’s battles. There have been days when you have found me wishing to go home and not even knowing where “home” is. I know that it’s perhaps not a location anymore. Instead it’s just right by your side. I also know that there are memories in this place that I could not live without. Like just last weekend, when the rain was coming down hard but I wanted to go down to the market for muffins and produce. So with you and your hat and me and my rain boots off we went to an eerily quiet Saturday morning stroll at Pike’s with just the locals, the only hardcore enough ones to face the elements. Deep down I never want to not be a California girl but I felt a sense of pride walking those puddled streets with you knowing no one would question my authenticity.
I think we have been on a successful journey of becoming the Bruce’s. A hard and exhausting journey filled with lessons that maybe some married couples won’t face until their second decade of matrimony but lucky us we got a chance to deepen our roots early. You, Nate, are why I’m still here in this wet city three years later. I don’t say that with accusation. I say that with love because as long as you’re here I’m not planning on leaving. I’ll continue to plan picnics on hills lined with evergreens and walks in neighborhoods and city streets if you promise to keep holding my hand through the harsh notes of this symphony and dance with me during the sweet ones.
My love, I know we came here trying to figure out how to be Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Bruce, Party of Two. It was you and I and this foreign city in a tiny apartment, against the world, against the rain, molding two lives into one, two names into one family, -building our own safe place. Soon after we began dreaming of a Party of Three or More, little boys and little girls. I know right now that our hearts are breaking but I can promise you one thing. We’ve accomplished building that safe place and tonight we’ll celebrate surviving 3 years in this city by lighting our first fire of the season, eating pancakes, listening to the rain, and I promise I’ll be here waiting to hold your hand. Amen.