Long before we were ever “Evan and Ali” and certainly before we were ever “A&E,” I can remember standing in Evan’s parents’ kitchen. Back then he was just Evan and I was just some girl, perhaps just their son’s friend, standing in their kitchen. Evan and I had been friends for six years at this point; best friends for maybe a year, and lovers/“official” for just six months. But at the time it felt real. Hell, it was real. Without. A. Doubt. But we didn’t know it then. How could we? We were just kids, LITERALLY. But in a way, his home already felt like my home. Not that I didn’t have a home. I certainly did. But there was something that his father said during this moment, something that has stuck with me throughout these past nine years that I have been unable to shake. This moment I can remember without a single haze of fogginess, despite the “newness” of our relationship and the clouded perspective of a seventeen-year-old girl.
Evan’s dad was making toast, something I now know he does quite often. The reason why I point this out is because Mark makes toast all the time. Breathe in. Breathe out. Big deal.
But there was something that made this a big deal; not the toast part, but the fact that he was doing it alone. Julie (Evan’s Mom) was out of town for a couple of days. Mark was holding down the fort by himself.
“To be honest I miss her. I really miss her when she’s gone” he said.
This confession he uttered almost to no one, but it certainly struck a chord with me, a girl who was raised by a single mother, who felt constantly challenged by the questions of Why, How, and When? I left that kitchen with the determined thought, “I want to be like them.” It didn’t matter with who per se, but I wanted that. I needed that. The very idea of a man missing his wife when she was, mind you, two to three hours away was an idea that was so foreign to me, so unattainable. How could it be possible that two people at this stage in life could possibly miss one another, desire one another, L-O-V-E one another, and do so admittedly in front of their child, much less their child’s “girlfriend” while making toast in the kitchen of all places?
Flash forward nine years later. While I wouldn’t be so brash to say, “ I now get it,” I can at least say I see the bigger picture. Nine years later I look at our lives and the scope of the frame has grown wider. Much Wider. Nine years later I can look back and see what we’ve built together; a house that was turned into a home; a dream that has turned into a business; and a life that was turned upside down, and at times needed to be asked, let me rephrase that, needs to be asked, “why?” and “for what?”
Because it is not all beautiful, it is not so easy: Love, Life, “The Dream.”
Here’s a real flash-forward: This trip was supposed to be our honeymoon. However, we left for it (5 months after the actual event, mind you) in such a state of anxiety, of stress, and of panic, that I can honestly say we looked across from another for the first few days of this journey and thought, “Who are you?” “What are we doing?” “What the hell is this?” Take away the house that became a home. Take away the dog that has made our life nothing but laughter, joy, and pure unconditional love. Take away a business that has bloomed into something bigger than either of us could ever imagine. Take away 15 years of friendship and love. And we were left asking, “For what? For whom?”
Standing in Evan’s parents’ kitchen I only saw the easy side of things, the very best side of things; two people that loved each other, that built something together and whose lives became so infused that they simply could not imagine living without one another. Now that is a pretty picture, a beautiful one at that. And that’s what I wanted: What I need/ed.
But I now realize that that isn’t the full picture, that the frame is much bigger; that the frame actually has to include all of the blood and sweat, all of the shit and tears, and everything else in between. There is no director’s cut. I now realize that without all of the mess, there would be no good; no highlight; no progress.
Nine years and 11 days later this is what I’ve come away with:
In the end it still comes down to us.
And really, nothing else matters.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:29 PM