Josh and I were married in Riomaggiore, Italy 10 years ago. We eloped. No one knew we were leaving; no one knew we were getting married. We dropped letters to our parents in the mail on our way to the airport. The two of us spent nearly a month traveling across Italy. There were no destinations set in place and no plans that needed to be followed. We didn’t know where or when we would get married, instead figuring that when the moment was right, we would know.
Riomaggiore is the southern-most village in the Cinque Terre in Northwestern Italy. All 5 villages that make up this territory follow the Ligurian Sea coastline and are small fishing towns with no roads. One main walkway, called La Via Dell’Amore connects the towns in one long hike that winds its way through terraced olive groves and vineyards. This name translates to The Way of Love and it is littered with symbols and the graffitti of lovers spanning back generations. This is where we got married just as the sun set over the sea on October 20.
This has been the best 10 years of my life.
Firstly, let me say that we married young. I was only just 21 when we ran away together. I firmly believe that age doesn’t matter. If someone is ready, then they are ready. But, to be ready you need to know some things. First of all, it’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self-love deficit. If you don’t first love yourself you will never be able to totally love someone else because you just don’t know how. For many people, I think this is the part of the journey that they overlook.
Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life; love shouldn’t be (and isn’t) one of them. Straight up, Josh is my weakness. There is nothing within my power that I would not do for him, and vice versa. True love knows no bounds, and that is that. With that, I could never hurt him because it would be just like hurting myself, and vice versa. When someone becomes a direct extension of yourself you begin to think of yourself as two seamless beings. Every act, or lack thereof, is immediately considered from all angles. As it should be. With him, I am home. I am more myself when he is by my side. It seems contradictory, but it is one of the biggest truths out there.
With the right person you don’t have to work so hard to be happy. It just happens effortlessly. A couple who was having problems once told us, “You and Josh make it seem so easy!” Well, guess what? It IS easy. It is the easiest thing in the world. It is so easy, I can’t even understand where this illusion of love and drama first got started. Seriously, if it isn’t easy, there is a problem. The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.
Someone once told me that none of us are actually afraid of the dark; we’re scared of what it conceals from us. We’re afraid of having something with the potential to hurt us standing right before our eyes and not registering it as a threat. People can be like that too, which is why love is so difficult. Our basest instinct is for self-preservation, and that does not lend itself easily to trusting other people. However, a certain darkness is needed to see the stars, and a certain detachment from self-preservation is needed to immerse yourself in the reckless pursuit of love. It is one of the hardest, scariest things you can do, but you must do it. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take that step. It didn’t matter who had hurt me, or broke me down in the past; Josh looked at me with a light in his eyes I had never before seen. He looked at me like I was everything he’d been looking for his entire life. I can still see it in his eyes when he kisses me good morning every single day.
I’m not a sappy person. I hate romance movies because they are so unrealistic, and they feed on the unhealthy expectations of people. I didn’t want poetry. I didn’t want flowers every anniversary. I didn’t want someone to promise me the moon and the stars. I wanted someone who would promise to lay on the grass and watch them in the heavy night sky with me. The best portions of my life with Josh have been the small, nameless moments we have spent smiling together over the things that only matter to us. Someday, we’ll look back on our life and the memories we will cherish the most will surely be unspectacular to anyone else.
He said he found me most beautiful not when I was all fancied up, but rather, when I wasn’t. When I was lying on the carpet, my hair all a mess, laughing about something that had happened years ago. When I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, and when I had taken down that wall I built up against most people. That’s when he couldn’t take his eyes off of me. He said my happiness made me pretty. My happiness made me beautiful. It just shows that those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They see only your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.
I knew it immediately after our first date; I told a friend that I had just had a date with the guy I was going to marry. I was just done. It was done. I was finished. In that moment, I saw that this was more than I ever believed and that any tears we may share would be stronger than the years we had waited to find each other. In a sea of people, my eyes will always search for his, and I know to the depths of my being that I will find them, always, alight on me.
And *BANG* you’re in love.
And you don’t look back. Not for anything.