Holding hands

Here’s to seven. Go for seventy?

Exactly seven years ago, I kissed a girl (and I liked it).

Fast forward to today, and we have our own place, two cats, two kids, and two wedding rings that spell “Infinity and beyond” when you put them next to each other.

Only seven years. That’s not such a long time, really. But what a lifetime of difference.

I thought for a while about what word I’d pick to best describe this time with you. The word I keep coming back to is: “Easy.”

Wow, how romantic, right?

Yet it’s true. Hear me out.

I’ve always been told that relationships are tough. That conflict is virtually unavoidable. That, after a while, it’ll all be about arguments, constant push and pull, and half-hearted compromises that leave nobody happy.

Growing up as one of so many children with divorced parents, some part of me assumed that couples sticking together happily was a miracle on par with finding a literal pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Every clichéd marriage stereotype has been preparing me for this weird life of unspoken grudges and mind games, because “women be from Venus and men be from Mars, yo”…

…and then you came along to prove all of that wrong.

After seven years, I can count the number of serious fights we’ve had on the fingers of Captain Hook’s hand. I fail to recall a single instance of drama for the sake of drama. No meaningless conflict, no blame placing and finger pointing.

Thanks to you, major life decisions—ones that should give people cold feet and keep them awake at night—have been some of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.

Buying an apartment together? Easy.

Getting married? Easy.

Traveling the world together, getting cats, becoming parents, and then becoming parents again. All easy. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.

Now, I won’t pretend that parenting is a smooth ride without friction. If anything, these past few weeks have proven that it’s an often bumpy road. But I couldn’t have wished for a better partner than you to navigate these rough waters with.

You juggle so many roles—wife, friend, boss, mother—with such effortless grace.

Whenever I watch you intuitively use the right combination of words to turn Nathan from combative to compliant or soothe seemingly inconsolable Nia gently to sleep, I catch myself being in awe of the endless well of positive energy you seem to draw from.

Your patience and inner strength are a huge part of what holds this family together.

Hell, you often hold me together.

You’re a calming presence when I’m quick to anger. You’re a counterweight to my neurotic brain. You’re a rock-steady constant in an often hectic life full of daily struggles and frustrations.

You ground me.

You’re my home.

You make it so easy for me to be, well, me.

All of this is why it’s just so incredibly easy to keep being in love with you.

If there’s one thing I do find difficult, it’s to imagine anyone else I’d rather spend the rest of my life with.

So what do you say…go for seventy?

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Nathan chasing a duck

Happy first, son!

Nathan? Hi. It’s your dad here. Is this thing on?

I know you can’t hear me. Text doesn’t transmit sound waves, I’m told. You can’t read this yet, either, because you still believe that books are delicious meals you haven’t quite figured out how to chew properly. But you might read this one day, on your iScreen 3D or Goggles-Bot Ultra or whatever all the cool kids use in 2030. When you do, here’s a virtual memento from your dad.

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Earth With Green Continents

A Girl Who Travels

I saw this post on Facebook. It’s called “Don’t date a girl who travels.”

It’s a charming post by a young woman named Adi, who loves to travel. It received some well-deserved attention. It spawned a “rebuttal” post, called—wait for it—“Date a girl that travels” and yet another post that asked whether you’d even want to date a girl who travels.

Thing is, these posts mostly focus on the extreme example of a girl who travels: the archetypal “free spirit” who won’t be tied down and refuses to live by society’s traditional rules. And sure, there are plenty of women like that. Yet there’s another kind of girl who travels. One who loves adventure, but also has a place to call home.

I know a girl like that.

I dated a girl who travels. I went to Vietnam with her. We sat side by side on two makeshift plastic chairs in the aisle of a train speeding toward Da Nang. We climbed a muddy, slippery mountain on Cat Ba, with only flip-flops on our feet. We slept on the floor in the house of a Hmong family in Sapa, under the cover of mosquito nets. We biked the roads of Hue, walked the streets of Hanoi, ate at a low-key riverside cafe in Hoi An. We took a rickety boat to the remote village of Viet Hai. We spent a night under the stars on the open waters of Ha Long Bay. We hiked a lot, swam a little, visited historic sites, got lost, struggled to communicate with the locals, laughed, got exhausted, rested, did it all over again.

Then we came home with lots of shared memories.

I dated a girl who travels. We went to Australia together. We sat side by side on the Greyhound bus that carried us from Sydney to Cairns. We stopped at Port Macquarie, Brisbane, Hervey Bay, and other places along the way. We hiked in the forests, petted koalas, fed kangaroos, saw a wild dingo, chased after an echidna to get that perfect shot. We held hands while snorkelling among the fish of the Great Barrier Reef, taking care to avoid nasty jellyfish stings. We swam in ice-cold waterfall pools, cooked a “barbie” in a park, struggled helplessly against the wind to set up a sun tent on a beach. We rode the quaint trams of Melbourne. We joined a crowd of locals in Federation Square to watch Australian Open, while the sun mercilessly scorched our pale skin.

There, in Australia, after the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December, 2012 (or was it the 1st of January, 2013?) and the Sydney fireworks were in full swing, I proposed to a girl who travels.

When we returned home, we were engaged.

I married a girl who travels. For our honeymoon, we flew to Hawaii. We aimed, for once, to relax and take things easy. We failed. There’s too much to see, too many places to visit, too many new things to try. So we did it all once more. We sat side by side in our rental car as we drove the winding road to the summit of Mount Haleakala to watch the sunset. We hiked the Kukui and Kalalau trails of Kauai (that’s a lot of K’s). We drove the famous road to Hana, exploring waterfalls, trails, and parks. We went to a traditional Hawaiian luau, learned to surf, and snorkelled the Molokini crater. We got lost and yelled at our treacherous GPS, got soaked in the rain, wandered aimlessly around a mall while looking for a place to buy groceries. We watched the sunset at Poipu beach and laughed at roosters by the Spouting Horn.

Then, as always, we went home, back to our daily lives.

We love our home. We love our dinners with friends, our cats, our separate hobbies, and our lazy evenings together. We do love to travel, but we also love all that other stuff we do in between the trips, while planning our next big adventure. We love whatever we do together. But that’s just because we simply love each other, I guess.

So, do you date a girl who travels?

For me, there is no doubt: Don’t just date a girl who travels. Travel with her. Explore the world with her. Do stupid stuff and laugh with her. Fall in love with a girl who travels. Marry the girl who travels. Then count yourself the luckiest boy in the world.