Yesterday, Tim and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with  dinner at the La Jolla Shores Inn. It was a beautiful sunset, like hundreds of others we’ve enjoyed together on that sand.


After our meal, we headed north towards Scripps to watch the stars come out. That mile of beach has played an important role in our lives for as long as we’ve been together.  It was the site of our first date, (read about that here) and our first whispered, “I love you,” just a few months later. I walked myself into labor with our first child on that stretch. We have spent countless beach days, birthdays, holidays, sunny days and rainy ones too, first as a couple, then as a family. It has been an oceanic witness to our laughter and tears, our joy and pain, our silent thoughts and our deep and sometimes distressing conversations. It made perfect sense to commemorate the quarter century we’ve spent together as husband and wife right there.

As far as Tim knew, we were just going down with a beach blanket to spend a few minutes honoring the occasion, but Molly and I had planned something a little different. While Tim and I were at dinner, Molly and a friend created a romantic place on the sand for us.  A beach blanket and a chair, a dozen candles, photos of us and our family, and a speaker playing some of our favorite love songs. After a quick hug and kiss and she was off, leaving us to enjoy ourselves and reflect on our life together.



Tim was surprised enough, but I had a couple more tricks up my sleeve.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve worn my wedding rings consistently. Time and genetics have taken a toll on my hands, leaving my rings just wrong-sized enough to make them uncomfortable for everyday living. So in honor of our anniversary, I finally got them resized, and I wanted to invite him to place them on my left hand again.  But first, I had to ask him a few questions. Twenty-five years ago, at 21 and 25, we didn’t know anything except that we loved each other and were committed to making a go of it – declaring in front of God and just about everyone we (and my parents) knew – that we would honor each other all the days of our lives. But would he do it all again, knowing what he knows about the ups and downs, the goods and bads, the triumphs and the tribulations that every relationship encounters after so many decades together? So I asked him:

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of watching her change – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually – knowing that she will change just as much in the next twenty-five and that they probably won’t all be for the better?

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of mediocre housekeeping and sloppy accounting and basic, “same-old, same-old” meals?

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of financially supporting her, while she finds cheap, but temporary emotional support in the clearance aisles of Target and Marshalls and haunts the halls of thrift stores, looking for just the right thing?

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of her continual assaults on your preferred systems of stasis, instead foisting on you, on us, on our family, program after program for improvement and change?

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of watching her bounce from dream to dream, challenge to challenge, school to school, lacking a single focus, (except the one of loving you and creating a loving family) in an effort to accomplish she knows-not-what exactly, but only to “be of service,” and to “love the world,” whatever in the world that means?

Do you take this woman to be your wife after twenty-five years of watching her fall many times and fail at many things that were important to her and having to pick up the pieces, knowing that pattern will most likely continue?

Do you take this woman to be your wife again after twenty-five years, even though she snuck “God” into the relationship in disguise – through her sneaky, overwhelming, passionate, personal, desperate Love for you, which grows “higher than soul can hope or mind can hide”?

In case you’re wondering, he said, “Yep,” to every one of them, just like I thought/hoped he would, (though he did pause for a moment or two after a couple of them).

And this is what I said to him,

I take you too, sweet man. I take you with your fears and insecurities. I take you with all the subconscious ways you try to isolate and disconnect yourself from me, the kids and the world. I take you with your bad singing and beautiful prose. I take you, not just with your love of your job and your business and your fierce independence, but also with your real, and to me incomprehensible, contentment with the 5’x10’ foot cave you call an office. I take you with your physical desires that have kept our love life alive for the last twenty-five years. I take you with all your achy joints and wherever they lead us someday.

The scriptures say that “Perfect Love casts out all fear” and if the last twenty-five years have taught me anything, it’s that you must love me pretty perfectly, not because you never fear when I bring you things, ask you to change, tell you I’m going to change, or that I want to do, or try something new, but because you respond out of that perfect Love and say, “Yes” anyway. You cast your fear out, or at the very least temper it, ask it to stand aside, so that the ones you Love – me and the kids – can become more perfectly ourselves in this world.

Twenty-five years ago, I didn’t know you would love me like this; twenty-five years ago, I didn’t know I would need a Love like this, but I did and I do and I will and I can think of NO ONE on this planet to whom I would say, “I did” and “I do” and “I will,”  besides you and I say it today and always.

So that was that and we spent the next hour or so reminiscing about the times that built us up and broke us down, slow dancing in the sand and looking up at the stars. But life isn’t all romance. The moments were precious, but they were over soon enough. We packed it up and headed home, joining Molly on the couch to watch The Office, before getting in bed for our nightly episode of Jeopardy. We were out, like all the lights in the house, before 10:00 p.m.

That’s what twenty-five years feels like to me. Romance when you can get it, make it, feel it, respond to it, create it, be inspired by it, need it. Companionship, kindness, compassion and curiosity in all the spaces in between. It’s enough to make a life and I’m grateful for all of it.


Last week, we dressed up for dinner at my folks’ place with our kids to celebrate the occasion.  Finn pulled out his camera and at my request, they all smiled (sort of).



Today is my 19th wedding anniversary and I thought it was high time to share the story of how Tim and I met. I’m not talking about the standard one we tell at cocktail parties. That one sounds like the set-up to an old joke, “So this guy walks into a bar…” In our version, “This girl walks into a surf shop…” and the punch line is that we fell in love and lived happily ever after.  It’s a good story and there’s an element of truth to it. But it leaves out everything important, everything that explains why I fell in love with Tim in the first place. In the standard version, guy meets girl; in the real version, guy meets pregnant girl.

In the summer of 1991, I was a pregnant teenager, living in San Diego with family friends, going to summer school at UCSD and preparing to give my child up for adoption. I was doing my best to correct a mistake I made on a night where I had a fake ID and a lot of alcohol. I won’t lie to you. That summer was sad and hard and lonely. Everyone was very kind, but ultimately, I was the one carrying this child, loving her, wanting what was best for her and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t me. I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be what was “best” for anyone, ever again. Deeply steeped in my Catholic tradition and my favorite Victorian-era literature, I carried my scarlet letter with me like a badge. I was convinced that even if I did the “right thing,” I would never be “right” again, never be who or what a young man wanted, or deserved.

All that changed the day I walked in to Clairemont Surf Shop and met the man who would become my husband. I had stopped by to see my neighbor, the one friend I had made who was close to my own age. Jimmy introduced me to Tim, the manager of the store, who was busy putting grip tape on a skateboard. Tim came around the counter, cleared his throat, nodded his head and said, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s still his standard greeting when meeting someone for the first time. I smiled and thought, “Wow, he might be nice – IF I WEREN’T PREGNANT!” We chatted for a few minutes and that was that.

But that wasn’t that. Though I had never seen Tim on my street before, suddenly my neighbor’s house became his second home. They played basketball, went swimming, watched movies and I would wave at them from my driveway. And when my neighbor was out one evening, Tim showed up at my house with his favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye.We talked books; we told stories; we laughed. Two days later, we went bodysurfing at the beach together; I was 8 months pregnant in a ratty, two-piece bikini.

Demi Moore, in all her pregnant glory.

This was the very month that Demi Moore made pregnancy sexy on the cover of Vanity Fair, but let me be clear here, I did not look sexy; I was just being me, incapable of being anyone else, and I was falling in love. But I was certain that it was one-sided. I dreamed of coming back to San Diego six months later, with my body, mind and soul healed. I thought that maybe, then, Tim might fall in love with me too.

Tim, however, had other plans. Tim, at 23-years-old, saw past the big, white belly. He saw past the fear and the pain and the struggles that I carried inside of me, along with my unborn child. He saw the girl I had been and the girl I wanted to be and he thought she was worth it. For some reason, he thought I was worth seeing through the heartbreak and the tears and the long struggle with grief and loss I had ahead of me.

And so one evening as we walked together, just a few weeks before I delivered my first-born daughter, he took my hand in his and he kissed me. He still loves to tease me that my belly touched his, before our lips even got close. After 21 years, he has never let go of my hand. He was there when I went into labor. He was there 15 minutes after Sarah Moses was born. He was there when I signed the adoption papers, letting her go. He was there as my mother drove me away from San Diego and all the painful memories it held.

September 18, 1991

Tim thought I might never come back. He was afraid that he had been a crutch, someone to lean on during a difficult time. He was afraid that he had been a distraction, something to keep me occupied when I had too much time on my hands, like a human IPad, or a hangman game. I was going home to a place where no one knew what I had been through and I could pretend like it never happened. My scarlet letter was gone.

But anyone who has ever carried grief and shame and loss knows that it is never gone. You carry the scars with you forever. You heal; you laugh; you love and you hope again, but you are never the same, which is why Tim never had anything to fear at all. He saw me at my best and my worst in the first eight weeks of meeting me and what he saw, he loved. And what I saw, I loved and love to this day. I saw a man of vision, of hope, of integrity. I saw a man with the courage of his convictions and a desire to overcome everything for me and with me. I saw a man who could see the truth of a person, beyond present circumstances and the masks he, or she might wear. I saw all that 21 years ago in a 23-year-old boy and I still see it each and every day. No one has ever earned my respect so quickly, nor worked so earnestly to keep it.

That is what gets left out every time we tell the standard story of how we met. We omit the part that embarrasses me, even though it’s also the part that makes him look good. But he doesn’t need anyone else to think he’s a hero. He just wants to actually be mine. He was my hero then and he still is to this day. Tim doesn’t rescue me from anything, but he steps up time after time to be strong, to face challenges, to stand for what he values and to love me, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, not even in death will we part. I am pretty sure we will find each other on the other side.

So on this day, 19 years after we said, “I do,” I wanted to tell the real story of how we met, so you could know the kind of man I have the privilege of being married to.

Happy Anniversary!