It was 1992, and my fiancee and I were living in a ~900 square foot rental house in Eugene, Oregon. I was making $18,000 a year as a post-doc, and my fiancee, who also had a PhD and couldn’t get a job as a waitress, was making pennies at a non-profit daycare center.

Her father had given each of his children a cash gift for tax purposes, and that gift had paid for our relocation to Oregon from the midwest, with enough left over to pay for a catered dinner for 40, with all the Bridgeport Blue Heron you could drink. We had to bring in a Justice of the Peace from over the Coast Range in Florence to perform the ceremony. I was wearing a tan sport coat that was a little too snug, and she was wearing a dress she had found at the last minute. I was still sporting the ponytail I grew in grad school.

Our lives were very tense. We fought a lot. I’m not sure that getting married at that point in our lives was the smartest thing we could have done. But when I tried to thank the guests for attending our little ceremony, I almost couldn’t speak for the tears that threatened to spill down my cheeks.

I could never have imagined being where we are now. We have gone through three houses, a couple of careers, and a handful of cats. We have wiped away tears, cleaned up vomit, staunched bleeding, and changed a billion diapers.

She has been my social organizer, bookkeeper, and culinary guinea pig. And beyond that, she delivered our two children, the greatest gifts I have ever received, and we take turns keeping each other from killing them.

In every meaningful way, she is my partner, and I cannot imagine how my life would have been without her.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie.