The other day, my husband revealed he'd been holding out on me.
We live in the Great Lakes State and Mr. Hat has a rabid love affair with with sailing. Nearly the whole of our official courtship was spent along the boardwalk in Grand Haven on the shore of Lake Michigan. So naturally, our house has a rather "beach cottage" feel to it, especially in summer. Sailing ephemera, a giant nautical map, shells, lots of white and blue...you get the idea.
Which why I was a little disgusted that he'd been hiding this:
An oar, perfectly colored, well weathered, cracked, telling stories of adventure. He'd finally thought of asking me if I wanted to hang it after reviewing my pinterest boards.
"This has been sitting in the bottom of the sailboat."
I figured it was just some random oar that came with the boat, nothing special that would have helped him think of it sooner.
And then I noticed this:
That's right. His initials. Apparently it wasn't so random. So I asked him about it some more.
"Oh, I used to use it on wilderness trips." And this is when I realize that not only has he been hiding this oar for 25+ years, it is more important than mere accessory.
Wilderness trips, for those of you who never suffered through one, were week-long excursions our church youth group used to take, canoeing our way through the lakes of Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada. When we weren't canoeing, we were carrying said canoe and 100-pound backpacks overland to the next place to get into the water again.
"Wilderness" is also what he went on the week before I went (gotta keep those teen hormones well segregated, you know). It was that absence (long story) that resulted in us "breaking up," if that term can even be applied to 15-year-olds.
"Wilderness" was lead by our wise, but obviously somewhat sadistic, youth pastor. The same man we were preparing a grand send-off for when, several years later, he decided to pursue other things. And it was during those preparations when, as Mr. Hat says, I threw the proverbial brick between his eyes that woke him up to seeing the "good woman" he was looking for was right there in front of his face.
That was June. We were engaged in September and married the following July.
Since then, we've weathered much in our 20 years of marriage: multiple bouts of unemployment, pinched pennies, miscarriage, illness, infertility, failed adoptions, autism, the loss of his mother. There are cracks and peeled varnish that, like on the oar, just serve to make it better. They show the duration and the survival. And there's beauty in that.
Which is why now, every time I see that oar, it'll be so much more than a weathered oar telling stories of adventures somewhere on the water. It will be telling me of our adventure in marriage.