The traditional anniversary gift for eleven years is steel. This is according to my friend Google, but the more I read about steel, the more I came to understand its significance in a relationship.
Steel is strong, it is durable, and it is made up of a lot of different components: carbon, iron, lead, chromium, copper, cobalt, and many more...the list of items present to make this metal is long and detailed. Much like the list of elements that are present in a marriage.
Specifically, Old Man River, our marriage.
Fourteen years ago, I fell fast and hard for you, even knowing in six months time you would be leaving, going on a new adventure that would take you far, far away. I was just naive enough to believe love could withstand everything, and rational enough to understand that while we loved each other, South America was your adventure alone--one that was planned well before you met me.
This was the first time we said goodbye. That first element in our relationship that, although I didn't know it then, would continue to prove as a solid base for the rest of our elements (if that's how steel works...it's really an oversimplified analogy using what Google told me, so...go with it). You see, when we said goodbye, we couldn't know that neither of us would forget the other. We couldn't know that not even a few weeks later we would begin sending emails, and then skyping, until we were talking not just every week but every day--until we were making plans for me to come see you and spend even just five days inside of your new life with you. Because--rational or not--our need for one another was stronger than our plans for ourselves alone.
This became our trend for nearly a year--each of us working, making our lives the way we were taught: independently. Yet, somehow, no matter time, distance, or compatibility, we always orbited back together. Because more than we needed the perfect job, or an exciting new home, or a brand new opportunity, we needed each other.
This is our foundation, those malleable metals that become strong through mixture with other "alloying elements" in order to form the perfect density, or color, or resistance to corrosion. I know very little about metals, or chemistry (which means this analogy might have gone off the rails and I will not know), but I know us, Old Man River, and I know that steel is a perfect representation of our eleven years together because we are strong, even when we fight over whose night it is to do the dishes; we are happy, even when we're both hangry and hot and sick to death of making decisions; and we are in love, always in love, even when the world is uncertain and our futures are unknown. Like those two kids fourteen years ago, who saw the future hurt, but who still took that leap into love, knowing heartache awaited, we will always come together--Jaja and Shitzy, Old Man River and Krissy. We are living a love story made on a foundation of steel, and nothing will every change that.
I love you beyond words--though I'll always try and give them to you. Happy eleven year anniversary, River. I love life with you.