15 Years

On January 9, 2003, in love since high school and just barely out of college, we met two friends at a magistrate’s office next to the courthouse. One friend was thoughtful enough to bring flowers. The other had appeared in front of the same magistrate for traffic court the day before.

Neither of us remembers the words of the stock vows, but we were told they were lovely.

At our bosses’ urging, we skipped out on work that morning. We celebrated with breakfast at Village Inn.

Within a week, we told our families. Nick’s father seemed suspicious there was a grandchild on the way. (There wasn’t.) Laura’s older brother speculated about the financial benefits and conveniences of marriage. (They were minimal.)

In truth, we had known for years we would marry, but that the wedding would be on our own terms. Eventually, we would get around to throwing a party.

Today, we gather with friends and family to celebrate the first 15 years.


From Nick, to Laura

Floating around our home — saved in boxes, tucked away in drawers, folded into books — are other notes like this.

Some are handwritten, others typed. Some dashed off in a moment, others came slowly and painstakingly. Some are declarations, some appreciations. Some apologies.

Each is a reminder of where we’ve been and a commitment to where we’re going. Each marks a moment.

And here, in the midst of a cold Midwestern winter, we mark another.

First a declaration: I love you, deeply and completely.

I’m inspired and humbled by your empathy and patience and thoughtfulness.
Your steadfastness has kept us on this track, despite my imperfections, more times than I can count.

In this moment there isn’t an apology as we trace life towards more moments.

Together we had a fire and we built a hearth where we can tend it, together, as we gray.


From Laura, to Nick

On tip-toes for our first kiss. Sneaking out all summer. We moved out to move in, together.

Guinea pigs, gerbils, finals. Bean soup and cheesesteaks. Your mohawk, and mail-order celebrity.

First careers and convenience. “Mrs. Bergus” mattered. So I became her, and they welcomed me.

Starter home. Our sweet, wild hound dog. A station wagon with heated seats. Enough.

Then, our Hazelnut. Infinitely better than the sum of our parts. She, and you, pulled me through. To sunshine, forests, cities, mountains.

Advanced degrees. Striving, pushing, saying “yes.” New careers, the next stage, our greatest opportunities.

You deliver on every promise. You hold me up and hold us together before I even know we’re drifting apart.

Calmer waters. A few quieter moments. Deeper meaning, because we’re facing each other now, holding hands.

Bad jokes. Our teenager. Middle age. This life we’ve made. The decades so far: just the beginning of our joy.


January 13, 2018
The Park Lodge at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area
Iowa City, Iowa

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