My husband turned 30 today, which feels impossible.
I remember meeting him — this 18-year-old kid working at a coffee shop, fresh out of high school. I was a wide-eyed teenager radiating innocence, talking herself out of having a crush on the wrong boy. He listened to way cooler music than my Britney-loving friends. He rolled and smoked things I had never seen. He had no ambitions beyond that day, that month.
I remember him as a 19-year-old boy, suddenly the "new delivery guy" for the restaurant I worked.
I remember saving my cutest work outfits for the days he'd be there. I remember locking into his blue eyes as I'd run food to my tables, salad plates stacked up my arm, reminding myself to breathe, focus.
I remember him walking me out to my car in the parking lot after closing time because I was young and small, and the neighborhood wasn't so safe. I remember being so young. I remember wondering if he'd kiss me.
He was the boy who made my insides all fluttery. The boy who I'd flirt with as I shimmied past him in the kitchen, the boy who I'd text when I had a little too much to drink. The teenager, the stranger, I'd wake up next to in the morning, grabbing my clothes and sneaking out before my parents could get suspicious. Before I had a chance to really know him.
He was a reckless decision, and people said I should know better.
I remember him as a familiar face I looked forward to seeing when I came home from college. A boy from my past who still made me feel all fluttery, as if we had unfinished business. (Or maybe a future life to share.)
And then I remember him growing up. Going to college, pursuing a career, thriving in a way that I never imaged that 18-year-old boy to thrive. I remember falling in love, unexpectedly and suddenly.
We're both unrecognizable to the people we were back then — in the best way possible — but still, it's nice to have someone recognize the progress, the changes.
Someone to say, "Man, you've come a long way."
Someone to be proud of your accomplishments — not because of what you've achieved, but because of how you've grown and what you've overcome. It's nice to have a witness to the process, and it's incredible to look at a man — a 30-year-old father and husband and professional audio engineer — and still see glimpses of the delivery boy he was 11 years ago.
And to love him for that.
Happy birthday, love. You're a lead character in my story — the boy who helped me rediscover my passions and reconnect with me. You're an enduring reminder to have faith in people's potential, and to keep moving forward.
I'm honored to be the one by your side, after all these years.
(Also, we're getting old.)