Today, Isn’t about running, PRs, training plans or anything of the like. Five years ago today, my life changed forever, because I married the love of my life. And so today is a day of reflection over the past five years as we transitioned from engaged to newlyweds to the family we are today.
Lauren likes to say that I asked her to marry me in front of the whole world. And that’s kinda true. In March 2006, our spring break, we told her we should take a few days and go to Frankenmuth. Neither of us had been there without our families. So we drove up early on a weekday and explored the area. It was the first day of the year that didn’t require winter coats. The whole time, I had my thumb and forefinger nervously polishing the ring. I had no real plan on how to do it. I just kept looking for the right moment. After a full day of exploring, we went to dinner at Tiffany’s. During dinner, I started to plot a plan. On the walk to the hotel is a jewelry store that Lauren liked to pause and look at the window displays. I figured if I could get her talking about the rings she saw, I’d ask for her opinion on “this one”.
We finished dinner. The moment was coming. We approached the jewelery store and sure enough she stopped to look. I started to steer the conversation when a large Italian speaking family came by. Loud and lingering in the area, they spoiled the moment and the chance was gone. We started walking again. Just further up the way is the Veteran Memorial. Its a garden with an arch over a globe fountain. We walked through it and she suggested to take a picture of me. So as she fumbled with the camera with her back to me, I pulled out the ring and got on one knee. She turned around and didn’t see me at first. And when she did look down she admits that she was confused. I wanted to surprise her, which I thought would be impossible, but I managed it.
Frankenmuth wasn’t our first trip together, but its one that we make sure to make every year at least once. We really started to get to know each other on our mini vacations. We didn’t (still don’t) have much money, so we did what we could. This usually meant sleeping in a super cheap motel or in the case for our first ever trip together, we stayed at a KOA in Niagara and slept in my van.
Our second vacation together was to Mackinac. This time we sprang for a hotel in the city.
I wish I could tell you so many details of our wedding day. But the truth is, it was so much to take in that I’m at a loss with details. Despite it being the first of November, by noon, the temperature was in the 70s. Because of the unnaturally warm weather, we were able to get married outside, in the garden of Addison Oaks. By the time the ceremony had started, the temperature had dropped to the 60s, but we didn’t notice. I remember being a nervous wreck. I could barely focus on anything, so I kept my focus on her. The woman who, in the next few minutes, would become my wife. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I’m glad we could share it with our closest family and friends.
Update: I found some photos of our day already online. credit: Inner Circle Photography.
Our wedding song is also the title of this post. Wild Horses was originally by the Rolling Stones and while I like that version, it was 100x more meaningful for us to dance to the version by The Sundays. There used to be a radio program on Sunday nights called Big Sonic Heaven (now a podcast) that would play dream pop artists like the Sundays. This show and the type of music played on it was often the soundtrack of our relationship. Our first dates, our first kiss and on one Sunday in July, about 3 months after we stopped seeing each other, we decided to be together again and to never look back.
One of the many loves we share is the Fall. It was a no-brainer that we were going to have our wedding during our favorite time of the year. The colors, the temperatures, Thanksgiving and Halloween. One of the many things I love about Lauren, is her love for Halloween. She loves to dress up and decorate for it. Now that we have a son, we focus more on his costume than our own, but we’ve had some great years. One of my favorites I have no photos of and that was when we were Red and Gobo Fraggle.
I remember soon after we were married, we were at my company Christmas party, when a friend of mine came up behind us and said hello to “Mrs. Bartkowicz”. I remember how much it threw her off. I know she probably misses having a name that others can pronounce and spell, but at least she can usually find her name at the top of a list.
Lauren has given me so much over the past five years. Compassion, loyalty, truthfulness, support. But her greatest gift came just over 3 years ago, when our world transformed from being a married couple into a family.
She tells me how 15 years ago, she never thought she’d be a mother or even a wife. She saw herself as a single, working woman. I blame myself for bringing her into this world of motherhood, but I also owe her my everything for giving me such a wonderful life.
So Lauren, if you happen to read your husband’s blog today. Happy anniversary. I’ve never been happier in these past 5 years, because of you. Thank you.