Dear Allison,

We will soon have been married for fifteen years -almost longer than any of our parents and almost half of our lives. I always envisioned marriage and adult life filled with the trappings we were taught by America to dream of: cars, kids, careers and a house. We have lost or given up on so much of those, and we never know when our 95 Chevy will break down. We cannot buy each other gifts or even cards (though I know how much you like those pieces of folded paper, even as you brand them silly). I will have to give you, again, what I can: I will cook the nicest meal we can afford, and I promise to hold you while you struggle to sleep through anxiety. It's all I have to give to you after a life we shared, and I will try to make August ninth special, but it already will be.

You called me one summer over a decade ago, and you asked through tears, "Please come and get me. We have to leave, and we need to go together." I did, and we did. We left together. I got in my car, you closed the shop at which you were working. I sped along green treed highways to get you; we left your work with about $120 in savings and did not know where we would go. We went far. We saw a lot: the inside of bottles, asylums, courtrooms, hospital rooms, and foreclosure papers. I remember seeing the inside of our old place, when I broke in to get your wedding dress after the bank had locked all the doors. Pride is the original sin and theft is close, but I'd follow any morning star to keep that reminder of the day we got married. You were so beautiful in that $20 dress, and you're even more beautiful after the years we've shared. I am so glad you called me that summer.

We did it! We are back in the place we love, and we are together! I think we're going to celebrate our anniversary in our adopted home, and that makes me so happy. I get sad sometimes; you know this. I get caught up between existence's emptiness and the overwhelming meanings the world throws at us. What keeps me happy, what keeps me grounded, what keeps me sane is that —even for a moment— we got to be together. I want to stay together for as long as possible. I love you.

Sincerely,

Y.B.