Eastern Shores, VA. One of my husband’s best friends got married at a beautiful bed & breakfast here, on a quaint inlet of the Chesapeake. My husband, Andrew, was a groomsman and we witnessed their moving, meaningful and poignant nuptials, both reflecting on our own a mere few months prior. They say the first year of marriage is the hardest … even the first few months have proven to be challenging. Often, we write about the peaks of our relationship milestones, but in the in-between — “in the meantime” — there are valleys you dip into, plateaus you endure and straight up sheer cliffs you fall off of from time to time. And these are the times when you have to face things, walk the plank, stare at your own reflection … and deal.
This dock, complete with boat the groomsmen arrived on, jutted out from the wedding location into calm serenity with the most picturesque landscape where sky met woods met water. I wandered out here late at night, while guests reveled in the tent up on the hill behind me. I may have been warmed by too much wine and I teetered unsteadily in my heels, but I made it out to the end of that pier and back. The cloak of darkness did not magnify my fear; rather, it hid from me how narrow the dock truly was, how precarious the planks were nailed together, unevenly spaced slats, some gaping inches apart where one misstep of my impractical shoe would have sent me splashing into the water.
Revisiting the pier the next day, I was shocked to see how far apart and perilous the planks were positioned. In daylight — in sneakers, no less — I was shaky, unsure of my steps, staring down, anxious with the anticipation of falling, of losing it, of not making it. The night before, it was literal blind faith as I didn’t waver from looking straight ahead, and put one foot in front of the other. That was the difference in my confidence, my determination, my security in surviving the task at hand.
Once at the end of the dock, I remember tossing a stone or shell in – it caused a ripple, concentric circles of confusion, a chaotic dizzying motion to the still beauty and calm. All of a sudden, the reflection was not identical, nothing mirrored, nothing perfectly matched. The ripple broke the reverie for a moment … but it eventually returned. In life, we cause ripples in our relationships, that ruin the reflection of who we thought we were, who we thought we could be — to ourselves, to our families and friends, to our spouse. The ripple affects everything and nothing at the same time, because it is just that – a mere drop in the water that with time and patience and faith, will return to normal.
A friend of mine, who had endured much tragedy in her life, once said to me “I wouldn’t choose it … but I wouldn’t change it.” Even the ripples taught her so much of who she was, who her husband was, and how they, as a couple, could survive anything, together. The phrase “still waters run deep” has both positive and negative connotations. Seeing this view made me think that even the most placid, peaceful, calm exteriors have the deepest emotions and collective experiences beneath the surface.
And on our surface, we have only been married a few months. But every day, I learn about, grow from and marvel at the depth of character of our relationship.
Author’s Note: We have now been married over four years and have a beautiful 1 year old daughter named Elyse.
Photos by Andrew Meyers