Confession: I knew I wanted to get married at the Toledo Museum of Art since forever. When I was a little girl, my first assignment at the museum Saturday morning program was to draw a still life of a bowl of fruit. Then, we pasted colored tissue paper on top of the drawing to make the banana, apple and pears really jump off the page. I don’t recall, but I’m sure it was a smashing success… (And by success, I bet my Mom hung it on the fridge.)
I loved the energy at the museum, even then. And as I grew, the love affair continued. The pieces could be quiet and thoughtful or bold and wild. The statues, the ancient art, the glass collection, the impressionist paintings… I felt such pride knowing my way around the sprawling museum, but more importantly I’ve always loved the stories behind the pieces. Reading the little cards beside each work was always my favorite thing to do.
So many stories in that museum…
Even though I wasn’t an artist, I’ve always gravitated toward ’em.
Enter: the boy.
In 1997 I started dating a boy who was a glass blower at the Toledo Museum of Art. He was a ceramicist, too. He painted. He dabbled in large scale sculptures. He was quiet and thoughtful… and an artist.
While he’d create incredible glass, I’d sit in the warm furnace room on the dated velvet (yes, velvet) couch at the museum and do my homework, read a book… or just watch him as he orchestrated the process from start to finish.
There was a lot of time spent at the Toledo Museum of Art.
So the boy and I kept dating. I knew I wanted to marry him. It wasn’t a question.
[I stumbled upon a picture frame when I was about 19 or so and it had written on it, in a lovely script, “From the very first moment I beheld you, my heart was irrevocably yours.” It immediately struck me and has remained with me since.]
So yeah, I wanted to marry that long-haired, doc martin wing-tip and Structure carpenter-jeans wearing boy.
Fast forward to four years after we started dating. We’d graduated from college. I had blonde hair. (WHY didn’t someone tell me?) He had exceptionally long side burns.
We were serious about this “we” thing.
Confession: I called the Toledo Museum of Art in the early summer of 2002 to see if they had any wedding dates available.
To be clear: I was not engaged to Craig, or anyone, at that point.
The museum let me know that they only had something like 3 wedding dates available in the gallery of my choice, the Great Gallery, within the next 12-18 months. One of those dates was October 25th, 2003.
Ok, that’s fine. Sold. Done deal. I will be getting married on October 25, 2003… to someone. (Kidding, of course it would be Craig.)
I was eager.
No ring, no problem. I’ve got a wedding date. That… I… um, haven’t shared with anyone just yet…
So to confirm:
Confession: I knew my venue and potential wedding date before my boyfriend proposed to me.
Cart before the horse?
Chicken before the egg?
This is a classic Kylee move. (I’m a confusing mix of ‘We must plan everything’ and ‘Just go with it, it’ll work itself out.”)
[In my defense, though, I was creating a marriage vision board before they were a thing. I was WILLING that man to marry me.]
Confession: My mom asked me during our courtship, “Um, Kylee… do you think maybe Craig doesn’t feel the same way about you as you feel about him?” Bless her heart. She didn’t want me to get hurt.
I remember thinking, “WHAT?”
I responded, reasonably:
“MOM, HE LOVES ME. I AM A VERY LIKABLE PERSON. EVERYTHING IS FINE.”
“I know, Kylee… I’m just saying, it may be something you may want to consider.”
We had never broken up, not even once. We were Craig and Kylee. Nope. Let’s do this.
I’ve got all the time in the world…
(Little did my Mom know that I already knew my wedding date. Save the date for October 25, 2003, Shirl. They’s gonna be a weddin’.)
|My gram, my Mom, my brother, my Jenna|
Confession: The day that Craig proposed to me, I actually badgered him like an MMA fighter. “Craig, what are you waiting for? WHEN are you going to propose?”
Seriously, that day… Oh, to this day I’m still so embarrassed about it.
(Craig, I’m sorry I was a jerk. That time and a bajillion times since.)
Confession: I never, ever once thought that there was anything wrong with me, or with us. I absolutely and 100% thought that Craig was in it to win it, like me, but he was doing it his way.
What I know now, and had just an inkling of then, is that Craig is, and has always been, thoughtful and deliberate. He does things in his time and in his way and they are always far better, far more planned out and far cooler than anything I could ever do.
I am rash and emotional and determined and verbal and a lot to handle. (Mostly.)
He, is steady and rational and calm and thoughtful. (Mostly.)
Yin and yang.
Peanut butter and jelly.
Snoop and Martha.
|As I posted this image, Craig looked over to my computer and said, “That picture. This does not surprise me to see it on your computer.” I love this man. TELL me you are DVRing this show.|
So he proposed and it was well worth the wait.
That sweet man…
|That’s us. That’s a giant screen. There were thousands of people.|
[Cute story: Earlier in the day before Craig proposed, he was holding a newborn baby for so long, that she fell asleep in his arms for about an hour and she wrinkled his shirt. The baby’s mommy said that he reminded the little one of her Daddy. It was precious. Craig ironed his shirt again, mid-day (after the baby whispering) and I was like, “What are you doing? You iron your shirt twice a day?” See? I’m difficult. LEAVE the man alone. Who yells at their boyfriend for ironing? Little did I know, he wanted to look crisp and hot for me.]
Well, we were engaged on July something (oops… I don’t remember the date), 2002 and since it was the early 00’s, I made a 25+ page scrapbook of our engagement, complete with patterned paper, cutesy-cut-outs and captions. (Because that’s what people without children did back then. They scrapbooked. They had time.) And of course, I made our wedding website on theknot.com.
And THEN, we planned.
I dress shopped and bought a strapless silk gown that I fell in love with pretty immediately.
(That’s the day I chose it, on left. And that’s 5-year-old Lila wearing it. I never had it preserved. For years, I’d put it back on ON our anniversary or whenever we’d return to the States. We just found it after it had been stored in my in-laws’ house. I can’t wait to try it on again this summer.)
Ya’ll, I had a 4-inch notebook FULL of details of our “wedding weekend.”
The dress, the shoes, the hair options, the bridesmaid dresses, the flowers, the music, the photographers, the centerpieces, the programs, the gift bags, the hotel gifts, the rehearsal dinner, the after-party… my life was the planning of this wedding… but one thing I’m proud of…
…the planning of the wedding and the fun party we wanted was nothing in comparison to the heart-filling truth that I was about to marry my best friend in all.of.the.universe.
Cheesy? Of course.
Truth, you betcha.
The details were fun. We tried so hard to create an evening that reflected who we were at that time. Craig’s glass pieces were our centerpieces.
We had no cake, we had sorbet. (Which today, shocks me. I’d much rather have cake than sorbet in 2017. This is a testament to the fact that we have grown as people since we’ve gotten married.)
We wanted the night to be full of dancing. And it was.
If weddings offer any future insight into the probability of a couple’s happiness, I think ours boded* well.
*I looked it up, “boded” is indeed a word. We’re all more familiar with just “bode,” as in “That tweet from a certain narrowly elected official didn’t bode well for the security of our country; best get off the twitter stat.”
So, here we are fourteen years later and I would marry that sweet man again and again.
The wedding was great.
The details were fun.
Oh, but the marriage has been all of the things.
The butterfly feeling hasn’t gone away.
You know what I’m talking about. That feeling you get when the guy you’re liking leaves a message on your answering machine, risking that your entire family will hear it. (Yes, answering machine.)
Or the feeling you get when you see your husband hold your baby for the first time.
(Meet Lila Ross.)
(Meet Vivienne Kate.)
I remember the feeling I had when we walked down the aisle on our wedding day.
My heart was racing and if I could have RUN to him without appearing to desparate, I would have.
I smiled from my soul and as far as I was concerned, there was no one else in the room. And I walked toward toward Craig, toward our life together.
He smiled, he walked toward me. Not quite knowing what he was getting into. (Or maybe he did.)
We met in the middle and then we walked the rest of the way up the aisle together.
And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.
We’ve been meeting in the middle.
And walking together.
Sometimes, one of us walks a bit further ahead of the other.
It’s give and take.
It’s not 50/50 all of the time, nor has it been. There are times when it’s 70/30. There have been times when it’s been 90/10. There have been times when our paces aren’t the same.
But everyday I feel in my core that there is no place I’d rather be than with him.
Sweet Craig, what we’ve got is good.
|BABIES. WE WERE BABIES. That’s me wearing your Mom’s wedding dress.
That’s you wearing fantastic sideburns.
You and I have talked about marriage so many times and we’ve said to one another, “This just doesn’t feel that hard.”
Now, we both know that marriage is difficult. We’ve gone through searing times. We’ve had tears, we’ve had back-to-back in bed nights. There have been eye rolls (me) and silence. There has been… life. But it seems that in the end, we both just like one another. We respect one another. We like to laugh. We like to wake up next to one another. We like to be with one another. We’re best friends.
If someone were to ask me what a successful marriage is based on, here’s what I’d say.
In your core, you must believe the same things, but outside of that — you be you and allow your other to be them.
I used to worry that we didn’t have too many things in common. But for us? That’s been an asset.
Craig Ross, you are confident in yourself, so it comes natural to you to allow me to be me. You’ve listened to countless ideas and stories. You’ve endured endless conspiracy theories, political rants and self-diagnoses from WebMD. You’ve eaten thousands of mediocre meals (without complaining). You’ve endured grief with me. You’ve held me tightly as I’ve sobbed into your chest. You’ve sat and said nothing when I needed to hear nothing. You’ve laughed so hard with me that we’ve cried.
You’ve taught me how to change a tire and how to release grudges. (That was a tough one.) You’ve unsuccessfully tried to teach me how to survive on a deserted island. (You lost me after tinder-bundle making.) You’ve taught me the art of saying less and not being reactive to every situation I encounter. “Kylee, you don’t need to send that email. Just wait. Don’t engage.” We have inside jokes and we have created a family where we’re dedicated to raising strong, empathetic women who love God and Lionel Richie. In that order.
This, oh sweet man, the wedding day was great… but this marriage? It’s been my everything.
In the beginning, there’s the excitement, the googly-eyes, the butterfly feelings… but then life gets started. Jobs are lost. Family members pass. Budgets are tight. Babies are hard to come by… life gets real. And going through the past 20 years with you, fourteen of them as your wife, have changed me for the better.
I am proud to be their Mom and her daughter… but sweet man, I am so honored to be your wife.
Happy anniversary to you, Craig Ross.
I love you.