My husband was a student when I met him seven years ago. He was beginning his science courses at a junior college after completing an undergraduate degree in business at the University of Hawaii. I was living a somewhat aimless existence in San Francisco, floundering around my mid-twenties trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. We were young and wild and bonded immediately over our mutual love for A Tribe Called Quest and The Big Lebowski.
Two months after meeting we flew to Hawaii together, and a month after that I found myself in my mother’s bathroom, trembling and holding a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t what we had planned and we were both scared, but we knew one thing: We loved each other. Eight months after exchanging first names, we held hands on the beach and promised ourselves to one another, ’till death do us part.
I was working full time and Justin was attending a packed schedule of classes when we welcomed Jack into our lives. It wasn’t ideal, but we were lucky to be living back and forth between our parents’ homes until we could afford an apartment nearly a year later. It was the most wonderful feeling setting up our first home together, a tiny two-bedroom with beige carpet, 1970’s tile and no dishwasher. Things were moving along steadily and Justin began applying to dental schools all over the country. Somehow, we were still managing to pursue his dream of being a dentist, despite the financial stress and mustering through the first years of marriage and parenthood.
Not long after we moved, I was on my lunch break in a new job when I picked up my phone to call him, only to see that he was also calling me. “Big news” he said. “I was accepted to NYU College of Dentistry”. Clutching another positive pregnancy test, I swallowed hard. “Well, that’s amazing. I also have some big news”. Apparently bent on keeping our lives interesting, we chose to defer his acceptance to NYU for one year so that we could bring Zoe into the world. Again we found ourselves faced with our future, scared and anxious, yet still trusting and steadfast in realizing the end goal.
I don’t know how we survived the move and the past four years living in New York City. Justin made his way successfully through the most challenging and intimidating academic courses of his life, while maintaining our family financially on twice-yearly student loan deposits. It’s been a completely mind boggling, life altering, and soul awakening experience, and it’s changed us forever. The messy days were sometimes completely unbearable, but they were vastly outnumbered by the amazing ones. I don’t know if the same could be said if we lived anywhere else…In so many ways, living in this crazy city saved me.
We celebrated Justin’s graduation from NYU Dental School a couple of weeks ago. Many members of his family and my mom flew in from across the country to watch him walk across the stage in Lincoln Center to accept his diploma.
Our three children-the reasons behind his and our success-were also there to witness their father raise his diploma in the air in triumph. It was exactly how I had always envisioned it would be.
It was truly an amazing day, and a huge part of that was having our family there, both in person and in spirit-those that have supported us in so many ways since the very beginning.
We wouldn’t be anywhere if it weren’t for the love of these beautiful souls, and a few that were notably absent and missed. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last four years, it’s that love doesn’t need to be tangible to be overwhelmingly present.
I suppose I’ll have to remember that when we move away from New York City. I have a feeling Manhattan will always be that ever present, familiar spirit riding along with me in my heart, though I can’t see or touch it.
We didn’t choose a conventional timeline; Our decisions weren’t calculated and our path was never pre-determined for us. The best part about all of this is realizing that love success, and happiness can also be found by searching outside the box-and I plan on staying there.
We can’t wait to begin again, even if it’s somewhere in the middle.