This weekend marked six years of my relationship with Kyle. We had our first date on January 16th, 2010, at a dim sum restaurant in lower Manhattan, alongside the couple who had set us up. We awkwardly ate chicken feet (Kyle’s idea) and made small talk. We searched each other’s eyes for a sign (are you my person?) and attempted to read one another’s thoughts (does he like me?). Afterwards, we played pool (badly) and drank too many beers. I remember leaving that night not knowing where it would go, but wanting to spend time in his company again.
That date lead to many more, and our first year together felt a little like a dream. Falling in love New York City is both incredibly romantic and also heavy with expectation. We tried new restaurants, adventured to each other’s apartments, went to shows and concerts and museums. We met each other’s families and found the space in each other’s lives that had been empty until now.
And the years went on. We traded late nights out for cozy Sundays on the couch, ate more takeout and visited fewer fancy restaurants. We pondered the future together and started sentences with “when” instead of “if”. We fought about important things and things that weren’t important at all. We saw each other at our worst and stayed in spite of it. We trudged through the dark together until we saw the light again.
In September, we promised each other forever. I had no idea what marriage would hold; how could I? I knew it wouldn’t be easy, even though so many make it look that way. You want you to believe it will be effortless. But the truth is, marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Here we are, two unique people, building one shared life. Everyday is full of compromise, full of selflessness, full of meeting in the middle. But mostly, I’ve found, it’s full of choice. Everyday I get up and I choose Kyle. Though disagreements and hurt feelings and crazy joy and laughter and the mundane, everyday happenings: I choose him.
It’s not always easy. I wish we could all talk more openly about how not easy it is. We want to appear happy all the time, to have the perfect partner, the flawless love story. Somehow struggle became synonymous with weakness. But the truth is, a long-term relationship is not easy. It’s one of the hardest things I think I’ll ever do. But hard doesn’t mean bad. It doesn’t mean wrong, or not meant to be, or flawed. It just means it takes work, mindfulness. Choice. It requires us to choose love, everyday.
For Christmas, Kyle surprised me by getting our vows printed, so we can hang them on the wall and remember everyday why we chose to walk this path together. A reminder to wake up each day and choose us.
Happy six years, KTM. I choose you today and tomorrow and everyday until we are old and gray. I promise to never stop choosing you.
Onto the cocktail! Guys: Citrus season is here! Admittedly, I like to cocktail with citrus year round, but the fruit is at its best in winter. This drink has a paloma/margarita vibe but winter-ized with the richness of the cinnamon bark syrup. This syrup is SO tasty, and it works with many spirits. Yum. Bottoms up!
Tequila Grapefruit Cocktail with Cinnamon Syrup
- 1.5 oz tequila
- 2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- .5 oz cinnamon bark syrup (recipe follows)
Rim a coupe glass with lime juice and then cinnamon sugar. Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into the coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
Cinnamon Bark Syrup
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 5 small cassia cinnamon sticks (about 2-3 inches long each), crushed into bark
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pan, then transfer to a jar or tupperware for the bark to steep overnight. In the morning, strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the bark so only the syrup remains.
Barware notes: I found the mint juicer at Nathan + Co., but it’s also online here. I also found the Good Vibes jar at Nathan + Co., but can’t seem to find it anywhere online. The glass was a thrift find but this is similar. The striped napkin is from Crate & Barrel but looks to be discontinued.