In the fall of 1998, in the foothills of the Ozarks, I met an Appalachian girl. Amber had just turned 19, spoke with a poured-on accent, and wore purple bows in her hair (though not voluntarily, but that's a different story). She wrote poems on napkins, scribbled theology in the margins of her childhood bible, questioned everything--even the wind. She had a pair of bare-threaded jeans, the kind people pay high-dollar for now days. She'd thinned her denim honestly and made sure to tell you so. She wasn't much for pretense. We married in the fall of 1999 at the Guntersville Church of Christ. After the wedding we were carried to the reception hall by way of horse and buggy. The driver was an old drunk of a farmer and he offered me a nip of whiskey, said it'd take the edge off. I didn't imbibe because I was Baptist at the time and not overly keen on lipping another man's flask. I remember Amber giggling at the exchange, and I half-believe that if the old farmer had offered the flask to her she would have accepted it. Amber's nothing if not mostly grace.
We've been married these almost thirteen years now, a anniversarial landmark which in my youth would make a married couple seem near ancient. But we're not ancient. We're still young at heart even though we're growing older around the corners of our eyes. The practicalities of life will do that to a couple.
I've celebrated fourteen birthdays with her, a number which reminds me that we've grown into adulthood together. She gets better with age, sure. I know that sounds like a wasted cliche these days, what with all the proletariat wine-enthusiast and country singers running amok, sloshing overused metaphors haphazardly upon the concrete floors of Arkansan taverns. It's true though. She's born ordeals, shared in joys, experienced disappointment, wandered in the unknowns; she's been refined and looks all the better for it.
The measure of a woman's beauty is calculated by the consistency of her years. Amber, my lady, is constant.
You're still my best friend. Happy birthday, Amber!
Today is Amber's Birthday. Hop over here (where I've hacked her blog) and wish her well.