The night of our wedding, my new husband and I spent the night at The Galt House in Louisville. We got married on January 6, 2001. Between semesters. He was in his first year of law school. I was in my last year of undergrad.
We had been engaged for three and a half years and together for six years, since I was a sophomore in high school. We had planned to get married the summer after I graduated college, but we were done waiting. We were ready to be married. So we set a date between semesters and got married eight quick days after my first niece was born and two days before my semester started. We got married on Saturday; on Monday, I was two hours away from my new husband staying on campus for a three day orientation for student teaching.
There was no time for a honeymoon. We would go to Vegas during spring break later that semester. The weekend of our wedding, we settled for a romantic night at a historic hotel downtown.
At the hotel that evening, we were starving. Neither of us ate much at the reception—dancing, shaking hands, taking pictures, throwing bouquets—no time to eat. So we quickly changed into something more comfortable than a big wedding dress and a tux and went to the restaurant at the top floor of the hotel.
The restaurant was empty. In the whole place, there was not another soul eating. Pressed white tablecloths, candles lit, place settings perfectly placed—no people. We had the place completely to ourselves. I loved it.
After several days of family, friends, and planning frenzy and after a day of bustling activity with a couple hundred of our loved ones, we were finally alone. Here at this empty restaurant over-looking the Ohio River, we had our first meal together as man and wife, our first real conversation as a married couple. We basked in the solitude of each other. We soaked in the goodness of feeling completely comfortable, completely together, completely happy in a room all alone. Neither of us could stop grinning.
In the years since that night, our lives have been filled. We have three boys, four nieces, three nephews, and one German daughter (our exchange student who is now part of our family). We’ve had four dogs. We have belonged to three churches and have made several lifelong friendships in those communities. We have taught Sunday School together and have been to hundreds of pot lucks, Bible studies, and Vacation Bible Schools.
Between us we have five degrees and two careers. We’ve lived in four houses in three cities. We’ve been to Europe twice and Florida countless times with our family. In all those experiences, we have met dozens of great people who have blessed our lives with support, encouragement, and laughter.
We’ve been to weddings, funerals, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, trivia nights, graduations, ball games (so many ball games), recitals, awards ceremonies, spelling bees, tournaments, plays, banquets, retreats, field trips, choir shows, orientations, conferences. All together and with other people.
For our eighteenth wedding anniversary, we wanted to get away and do nothing. The responsibilities of living—taking care of a broken HVAC, replacing a brick mailbox that had been hit by a car, bringing kids to the doctor, paying bills, going to work—had exhausted us. We are surrounded constantly by the busyness of life. We needed to get away, to be by ourselves.
We stayed in the craft village of Berea, about an hour from our house. One night during the weekend we got ourselves dressed up to go out. I wore the new hand-crafted jewelry my husband bought me earlier in the day. I put on make-up, pulled a comb through my curls and gathered them into a ponytail. My husband changed into khakis and put on some cologne.
I had made reservations at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel Restaurant in downtown Berea. When walked into a dining room, we discovered it was nearly empty. Only one other table had any patrons. We were led to a table next to a huge window with a lovely view of the quaint Kentucky town. But I barely looked out. I was too fixed on the handsome man sitting in front of me, the man with the cute dimples and amazing smile, with the deep, sexy voice, and genuine eyes. The man who knows me more completely than anyone else, and loves me completely.
At some point in the meal I remembered our wedding dinner and how this restaurant was so similar. Eighteen years after starting our marriage journey we were once again sharing a meal alone, together. I took pleasure in the symmetry of it, the cyclical nature of life. It was an instant metaphor for me—the farther we journey, the closer we are to what we’ve always been. This restaurant was a sort of picture of our marriage: our company with one another is paramount to everything else. I love going through this life with him. It doesn’t matter how full or empty the surrounding tables are, as long as Sam is sitting with me.