To Amber (A Marriage Letter)

From time to time, Amber and I pen letters to each other as a way to memorialize the truth. I haven't done it in a while. I thought today seemed like as good a day as any.


Dear Amber,

I suppose we've seen some things over the years, eh?

Remember the early days? Remember when you hoped only to write poetry for a living? You plotted your course by a north star of poetic publication knowing that it would lead to little more than extravagant obscurity and luxurious starvation. Ah, you! Back then you had this penchant for trading the pragmatic for the creative. I loved that about you.

I wanted nothing less than to write music for the Christian artists in Nashville (boy, was that embarrassing to type), but settled instead for the steady paycheck of a youth ministry position (aint that a gas?). Remember how I had to teach that seminar on secular music? It was tricky business to encourage a group of fairly-decent kids to give up their Dave Matthews and Oasis when I kept a Jimmie Hendrix CD deftly hidden between the seat and console of that old Accord. (Speaking of which, if you were a teenager in my previous youth group and you are reading this letter, count that last sentence as a confession.) Thinking back on that story, I reckon it's good we got out of that game. I suppose it's likewise just as well that I never made it as a songwriter. And anyway, what with all the times we've moved, what-ever would I have done with all of those Dove awards?

On the move. Here we are, still on the move. Things have changed. Hopefully we've matured a bit, but here we are still with hot feet, still looking for the right place to settle and call "home." That youth-ministry position wasn't home, and we both knew it. Your masters degree in fine arts wasn't home either, and we both knew it. And though early passions have given way to the adult practicalities of life--boy raising and career building--I think we're closer to figuring out what "home" means to us.

And, as an aside, I still think you'll write a grand book of poetry one day.

It's been thirteen and three-quarters years now, and I feel like we're finally starting to settle into a groove. Last night we sat on the couch and read, and wrote, and listened to Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel. It was easy and nice. I didn't feel the pressure to churn out another song, nor you to write the perfect poem. After all, I'm no longer gunning for a Dove award, and you know you'll write your best poetry in a season to come (Lord willing). Sometimes the lack of urgency in can be a sort of salve, eh?

I feel like we're earning the patina of marriage, and I'm starting to see the first glimpses of it (no jokes about the gray in my beard, here!). I suppose this whole letter is just a way to say that even though our hopes and dreams have shifted, though we've morphed into folks that I'm not sure my twenty-two year old self would have recognized, though we've tried a couple of time to wound each other right-good, I still like you. Whether we ever find the perfect home or not--I still like you. Whether you ever write a Pulitzer-worthy book of poetry or not--I still like you. Whether it's Neil Young, or Simon and Garfunkel, or simply the sounds of silence themselves--I still like you.

This letter is just the wood carving in the tree. It's finger-writing in concrete. It's the signpost to remind you--I'll always like you best. First, too.

Write a poem on a napkin today,