Vows (Or, I’ll Work For Your Love)

Abbigail Keller & Benjamin WagnerAt the end of the day, the meet cute doesn’t count for much.

I mean, make no mistake; it’s a cute story. I thank my lucky stars that Abbi happened onto my Friendster profile, found my website, came to my rock show, and tapped me on the shoulder — to say nothing of the fact that she had the wherewithal to be persistent (but not too persistent).

No, at the end of the day, it’s a good story, and a great start (and, if you’re me, a fortuitous turn of events).

It seems to me, though, that really matters isn’t that first chapter, but the pages unspooling in real time now: not the highlights, or spotlights, or moonlight, but the sixty-watt bulb that illuminates our living room.

I don’t know much about love, and — one wonderful year into this excellent, new adventure — I don’t know much about marriage. So far, it’s been a pretty smooth ride. We’ve had some challenges, hit some bumps, and had some tests: taking the leap, building a home, finding our footing, and dealing with surprises.

I know this much: I lucked out with an excellent partner, but we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

Last October, I stood beneath that live oak on Bray’s Island and began my vows thusly:

In his “Letters To A Young Poet,” Rainer Maria Rilke warns that “People have misunderstood the place of love in life. They have made it into play and pleasure because they thought play and pleasure were more blissful than work. But there is nothing happier than work. And love, because it is the extreme happiness, can be nothing else but work.”

Since getting married exactly 365 days ago this afternoon, Abbi and I have enjoyed more than our share of happiness.

We’ve knocked around the Maldives, Dubai, Nantucket and Seattle. We’ve woken up early to jog, and late to rest. We’ve run marathons and walked aisles. We’ve laughed with and at each other.

And we’ve done some work too.

We’ve vented about work, grouched about parents, spouted about siblings, and kvetched about friends. We’ve argued about laundry, furniture, food, and finances; debated couches, kids, cleaning ladies and vacations; and disagreed about where to go, how long to stay, and what to spend.

I’ve learned to compromise not because I have to but because I want to. I’ve learned to share space, jettison vestigial habits, long-held (but outdated) beliefs, and material, and think of someone other than myself before myself. I’ve learned to listen, to wait, and to work. And I’ve learned to persist.

I know we’ve only just begun. And I know we have challenges to endure.

Today, though, on the first wedding anniversary, I just want to relish my goods fortune for finding the sweetest, most-beautiful, patient woman and perfect partner possible.

Today, I want to relish my good fortune that I’ve met a women who loves rock shows, matinees, and sitcoms in equal measure; who looks equally ravishing in jeans and a t-shirt, or taffeta and pearls; and who has a folder full of design clippings, books full of crossword puzzles, and closets full of board games.

Today, I acknowledge to the whole, wide world that I am a lucky man for my love, and my happiness. And today — more than yesterday, less than tomorrow — I am committed to the work; whatever it takes, whatever may come, ’til death do us part.

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