On Red and Love

Today is my 15th Wedding Anniversary. You guys! Fifteen.Years. Sheesh. I can't even believe it has gone by so quickly- it is all an absolute whisp and at the same time, all the moments when I wasn't by J's side have all gone fuzzy. When I walked down the isle toward J, I was wide eyed and 20, ready to embrace a beautiful life with him. I felt bold and independent and serious. I also felt a little shy.

Everything was pink.

Champagne pink for a noon wedding with coat tails on all the gents and a brunch reception. The light in the orchard behind the church was pale and gray. Tiny blossoms on the pear trees just begining to unfurl. The air was crisp and damp. The smell of the earth was pungent, the rough shell soft and ready forbulbs and color to burst forth from beneath the surface. The sky had let out all its winter tears and was ready to shine a warm blanket to what lay below. When you inhaled you were breathing in new. 

And right there amidst all the signs of Spring, a new marriage was borne in the new ground, among new bloolms, that had yet to bear the season's fruit. We were so in awe to stand in Spring's delicate promise that day in March. The scent of blossoms, even those tiny and wrapped in buds catches your heart and you just knowgood things are going to come.

When I think of my wedding day, all I see is champagne pink and flowers and light.

I see light as my grandmothers squeeze my hands and kiss my cheeks. I see my head nuzzled on the shoulder of my grandfather, before he was sick, when he was so so strong and his arms felt so secure. I hear his chuckle while his chest shakes and he whispers delight in my ear while he holds me on the dance floor. I see my mother's dark eyes pooling every time our eyes meet. Neither one of us can talk about all the sweet and all the bitter that carries a mother and daughter through happy moments and changing seasons that mean parting. Neither of us wants any sort of parting or any sort of change. But we are together. I see my arm looped through my father's and all I can do is feel full to bursting that he is my dad and I am his daughter and that I'm not walking through the center of 500 beloved alone. He will keep me steady. And that man. Oh that man waiting for me to join him in all this new. I don't even have words for meeting him at the altar. But I know when I met him there, it was all pink.

Today I'm walking in red. I'm even wearing red lipstick.

I'm more surprised than anyone that it seems to suit my face. . . that today I don't want to wipe it off it a mad dash of tissue paper. 

My mother wore red lipstick almost every day of my growing up life. She would take me with her to the counter at Estee Lauder on our weekend trips to Seattle, and the counter girls all knew her name, and loved her and told her she was beautiful, and she knew just the right shade every single time.

My grandmother wore red too. She was a beauty queen. More than that really, but what she really meant to our little town is a story for another day. A giant copy of this photo still hangs in the museum where I grew up. It feels almost reverant, trimmed by a giant frame. When I was a little girl I would rush into the gallery where it hung so that I could see her face. That was mygrandmother. And she was beautiful. She's been gone more than two years, but I can still seek out her larger than life smile. And her red lipstick. I never saw her wear lipstick like that. I couldn't even imagine it. But I knew that she had and that she had loved it. And when I was young I dreamed of the day I would wear red like she had. 

With red all around me, I wanted to try it on. When I was ten, I took my mother's makeup samples and applied everything just like she did. Just like the ladies at the make up counter. I swooped and swooshed my way through eyeshadow and liner and blush. That red lipstick was the final touch. I loved every inch of the face staring back at me in the mirror. But, I was woefully aware that it was too much for me. Too soon. Too young. Someday maybe. But for a while I knew pink watermelon lipsmackers and and wet n' wild blush were going to be my jam.

And now here I stand wearing red. Bright, bold, wild, red. 

Fifteen Springs into marriage, and this is my season of bold color and bold living. All those blooms we sensed the promise of way back in the beginning? Some of them are here! And they are beautiful! This is the season of fruition and life teeming so full its spilling out of the form and frame we dreamed of when we were new. This is the season when our home is bustling, when personalities and passions and ideas come from our children too. Its the season of activities and growth and movement, and also holding steady to the anchors of simple meals and devotions and long walks and date nights so that we can just barely catch our breath and dive back in to all that stretches before us every day. Its the season of possibilities and dreams re-awakening as we wrap up our children's little years. Its full of new margin and new strength and new work.

And, its the season of responsibilites piling high. Of taxes and mortgages and bills and mapping out a plan for college tuitions, while we look at one another with blank faces and can't believe that we are actually grown ups. Its knees beginning to creak and backs going out and flabby bits unwilling to budge and the declaration each night that we are dog-gone-tired and feel old. 

To live fully in this grown up, worn-in cozy marriage is more full and colorful than I ever could have pictured while I stood in pink. There is new passion and deep understanding in red. There is new hurt too, but there is more patience to bear it and more sweetness to cover it these days. Mostly though, there is the fulfilled promise known and felt- the deeper, older mother of pink has taken the stage. And she has more wisdom and wit, more grace to give to herself and others.

She knows a few of the secrets of those that came before her, those who chuckled and linked arms and squeezed hands and kissed cheeks and stood with her when she was young. And it makes her love them with a deep red love now, because she knows the depth of the life they were looking back on that was only stretching out for her on that first Spring fifteen Marches ago. Now? Life feels deep. And truer somehow.

And so now when I wear red? Its right. Its my time. 

The pink was pretty and pregnant with meaning. It glows in my memory, but this red is so so good too. If you're in pink today? Enjoy every moment. Breathe in all the beauty of being fresh and brand new. It is the sweetest of seasons. But when your season of red comes? You're going to love it. I promise.

Kristen Kill