Today I have been married to Trevor Matthew Noel for ten years. We have had ten moves, visited ten countries, had about ten jobs between us. We’ve each celebrated a decade’s worth of birthdays and holidays and surprises. Once upon a time, ten years sounded like a lot. It’s not. It’s a fraction of our lifetime together, the very first step in a staircase of living.
But after ten years, we are still in love. After a decade of every day, it was still a delight to steal away to remote Costa Rica and have only each other for company for ten days—a day for each year. With that in mind, we’re maybe doing something right. We’ve maybe passed some test of dedication and wisdom. And though the life I imagine for us together stretches on and on beyond this day, I am not one to shy away from all celebrations, big and small. A first step is still very much a step, and I want to rejoice that we climbed up and over to here together.
That’s sort of a thing about Trevor and me. I’ve always called him my anchor because he is so firmly rooted in wherever he is. He can survive any environment, master any situation, and he will do so with wide and alert eyes and sure feet. Meanwhile, I’m somewhere next to him, trying to pinpoint every step that led us to where we are, wondering what it will all mean in the time to come. Which is why such celebrations are so important—they are the culminations of past, present, and future. They honor the work and they journey; they look forward to the future and what it may hold; they offer pause and enjoyment in the present moment.
The tenth anniversary is one of tin or aluminum, traditionally speaking, which, if you ask me, is sort of a disappointment in terms of gift purchases. I joked that we flew on a tin can to Costa Rica, and so it was fitting with our practice of traditional gifts; and then through the chuckles, I wondered, what do I say about a tin marriage that really captures where we’ve been and how I feel and where we’ll go from here? Tin and aluminum are simple and common, and those aren’t things I want to communicate about my decade-old marriage. Sure, you grow accustomed to the day-to-day, learn to function without much to-do, but my life with Trevor Noel has been anything but ordinary.
It hit me the other day, placing a can into the recycling bin. I recycle as a labor of love, as a way to steward the resources I’ve been given. I do it because I love the idea that life keeps going and going, and that even something as simple as a bean tin can live on in some way. It represents a consciousness of the work and care required to achieve this new life, but also demonstrates a certain faith that, if you do your part, some magic comes out on the other side.
Well, then how very much I hope that we have made a tin marriage thus far! We’ve taken what’s been dealt to us—and sometimes that’s not been very easy or clear—and we’ve honored it and done our best. We’ve worked hard, and sometimes we’ve worked harder, and then we fall back on the faith that our investment fruits magic.
A few nights ago, we met a young couple celebrating their honeymoon. They were wowed by our ten-year milestone. “That doesn’t always happen these days,” she said. But she must have faith that it can happen. That’s why they were here to celebrate, too. From here, they just have to put the work in. But for a moment, trying not to feel too, too old in light of her remark, I let myself soak up that praise and respect. Ten years is nothing compared to what I’ve got in mind; but ten years is still very much something. From here, I want to take this tin marriage, all of the dips and the highs, all of the work and the sparkle, and I want to recycle it into whatever comes next. I want to commit myself to the extra steps and the extra hope and know that these choices will yield more life again and again.
Ten years I have been living a life that far exceeds where I thought I’d be. Ten years I’ve had someone by my side, even when it seemed like everything else was failing. Ten years, I’ve woken up to “You’re so pretty,” and fallen asleep to “I love you,” and it blows my mind to think that somewhere out there, people throw away their tin instead of recycling it for more and more.