Last week, my man and I celebrated our four year anniversary.
He was away at work (as he is every second week), but that didn’t matter — we’re not big ‘celebrators’ of these kinds of events anyway. Well, not in the traditional sense. I did my usual thing — found him a cheesy card, tucked a lotto ticket inside, then scrawled him a message, ending with “I hope you get lucky tonight”. (Referring to the Powerball of course — what did you think I meant?!)
But even though neither of us are ones for big gestures, and even though anniversaries don’t actually mean anything, or correlate in any way to the quality or strength of a relationship, I still like having one day each year that’s ours. That forces us to reflect on our partnership.
At the four-year mark, the gloss has well and truly worn off — the delusions we were both under in the first few years have been completely blown out of the water. (Case in point: for 12 whole months, my sweet man did not realise that glossy, pin-straight hair was not the natural state of my head. Ha! I’m definitely closer to Hermione than Gwyneth!)
Of course, those sorts of superficial masks naturally fall away the longer you’re with someone. We shed the pretenses layer by layer, as we feel more comfortable, or as circumstances dictate, or because we simply can’t be arsed anymore.
But deeper than the shedding of perfect hair (ahem… or perfectly hair-free legs), this year, I’ve had reason to take even bigger pause.
Without exaggeration or doubt, it’s been the busiest year of my life — running your own business will do that. There were way too many times where I didn’t have time to shower, let alone sit down for an engaging conversation or a proper dinner. There were weeks (months?) where my confidence, my bank balance, and my sanity took a beating. I’ve had breakdowns and breakthroughs, massive highs and tear-filled lows. It truly has been the year where he’s seen me at my most raw — at my worst and my best, sometimes in the space of ten minutes.
And yet there he is. Here he is. And it makes me so incredibly happy and grateful. Yes, we’ve farted, fussed and fought, yet we’ve still always found our way back to each other.
Every year, when I think about what love actually means — what love is — I always come back to one quote.
It’s one of the most powerful passages on love that I’ve ever read — even though it’s from a children’s picture book. It refers to the love between a child and their toy, but I think it applies just as much to the love between two partners…
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Amazing, isn’t it?
Here’s to real love…