Nine years ago, you told me that you loved me.
And I got mad at you.


Austin,
I cannot sit here and tell the world that it has been perfect. That every day has been smiles and laughter and skipping off into the sunset together. Growing from 21 to 30 together has to be difficult for any couple. You're still in college, you're still learning, you're still trying to understand that school will end and the real world will knock on your door, leave a steaming pile of shit on your porch, and it will push you, innocent and ignorant, to figure the rest of it out for yourself. How are you supposed to know what you "want," how are you to expect that the other person is going to want it too, shit, remember when I was dead set on moving straight to New York the minute that I graduated? I remember, that you said it terrified you. I remember the day I realized that it would never happen. I remember feeling lost, and stuck, and young, and unqualified, and broken.
There are so many days where I wonder, how, how did we make it? How did we last? How did he put up with me? But I know that answer.
We are together because of you. We've made it to this amazing place that we are today because of you. There's no arguing there.
You have stood by me in the darkest of my corners... Rubbing my shoulders, pumping me up, pulling me back out into the middle of the ring saying, "You've got this." "You can do this." "I'm so proud of you." "What do I need to do?" "How do we fix this?" "I'll always love you."
And I'd feel dishonest if I didn't say that you've been the passenger of my roller coaster this whole time. You've let me go. Clinking and climbing higher and higher only to find it falling and curling faster than you could ever imagine, plummeting into a world you've never seen or even asked for. And you've waited. You've sat there next to me the whole ride. And after every time, ever single time, every time that we hit the bottom of each curve, you'd turn and say, "It's going to be ok, take your time, I'll be here." And it's there, in those words, that my heart both breaks and burns for you.
I am so thankful for every day with you.
I am so glad that here, as we both approach 30, that we are opening that door together. That we have come to a place where it seems that we have finally reached the same point, on the same mountain, facing the same direction.
It's here, that we are unstoppable.
And happiness is growing and blooming and I know that it will survive the frost and freeze of even the harshest of winters, because it already has. 

You are a truly beautiful soul and the strongest man that I know.
I promise, that if you ever find yourself in a place, in the dark, lost, not knowing where you are, I will turn to you, I will grab your hand and I will say, "You are here, and I am with you, and you are safe."

xx
Ashley