Many many moons ago, Mack and I were dating, and we were dead broke.
That is absolutely not hyperbole.
The summer in question was 5 years ago. Mack had just graduated from Tarleton and was spending his summer working for the church (ie: working for free). I was working for the state (ie: working for almost free, with less fun).
With very little money to toss around, we spent most of that summer inside the crappy rent-controlled apartment we paid too much for. But even about this, I can’t really complain. We were happy, and some of my most fond memories of Jack’s babyhood took place there.
This was us, taken a few months before that summer. All photos taking during that actual summer involve me looking scruffy, so I’m using this one. 😉
(For the record, I also have some terrible memories that involve crickets breeding in the air ducts and falling down from the ceiling like squirmy black rain. Seriously. NIGHTMARES.)
Anyway, some people from my church took pity on us… we must have looked particularly haggard one Sunday, or something… and told us that anytime we wanted, we could fish in their fully stocked pond and keep whatever we caught. YES!
So we did. Sometimes three times a week, we’d go out as a little family unit and have a blast fishing, then take home our catch, and eat it for dinner. Free fun, and free dinner.
But see, I’m a romantic girl at heart, and all of this really started to get to me. Mack was in a hard position, because we seriously didn’t have the money to go out and do anything. We were scraping for everything we had, and while we were happy, it certainly left a lot to be desired.
One night, I broke down in tears. I begged him, “Please please PLEASE… just leave a flower on my pillow. Write me a love letter. ANYTHING. I’m drowning here!” (I’m not dramatic or anything.)
Mack insisted that he had no idea how to write a love letter that wouldn’t feel corny. He comforted me and told me that someday we’d be able to go out and do things and have more romance in our lives than cleaning fish on the kitchen counter. I dried my tears, and that was the end of it… or so I thought.
The next day, I came home from work to find my apartment had been covered in cutouts, magnets, and decals… all of the letter “R”. There was an “R” stuck to every mirror, every picture frame, every window… even the TV. Different shapes, different sizes, different colors, different fonts. All “R”s.
I was a very very confused girl.
That is, until I found the note taped to the back of the front door.
“My Dearest Chelsea –
I don’t know how to write a love letter. Every time I start something, I stop and laugh at myself, because it doesn’t sound like me, and it won’t mean what I want it to mean.
What I want to say is that I love you with my everything, and I want you to know that every single day of your life, whether I know the right words to use or not.
So I decided that your love letter is going to be “R”. The letter “R” is curvy, and makes fun noises, and… I started to write a “P” and changed my mind. So “R” it is.
Every time you see it, in a story you’re writing at work or on a billboard or in a book you’re reading, I want you to remember that the letter is yours, and it means that I love you.
(Pretty clever, huh?)
Yours always… Mack”
This little inside idea about the letter “R” has continued to follow us throughout the years. It’s quirky and weird, so I guess it’s perfect for us.
When we were discussing creating a huge-o-mongous piece of original artwork to create and hang above our bed in our new room, there was only one idea that felt right to us. We’re going to create a typograpic collage, about 60 inches wide… a huge white canvas covered in different “R”s. And everyone who walks into the bedroom will scratch their head and wonder what the heck the letter means… and we don’t care. It’s us.
See, I didn’t marry a Casanova. I didn’t marry a poet who knows how to string words together and get a fluttery effect every time he wants to. Mack has some amazing strengths and many wonderful qualities, but he is not the swooning romancer that I dreamed about when I was a little girl.
He is better.
He is a man who loves me with his everything, and can say it just like that… in plain English. And he is a man who loves me enough to do something as silly as co-opting an entire letter of the alphabet to make me smile.
I have no specific reason to share this story today. It’s nobody’s birthday, and it’s not our anniversary. Today, I just really love my husband, and wanted to talk about how absolutely incredible he is.
Hey, sweetheart… you’re incredible. I love you with my everything.