As many of you know, Scott and I decided on a delayed honeymoon since we got married while he was in school, used a lot of our own money for a wedding, and desired a longer honeymoon in Europe instead of a traditional tropical one. I must say that while a honeymoon post-wedding would have been wonderful, I'm so glad we took a delayed one. After dating someone for 8 years, you'd think that you would have the other person figured out, that your fights would be more tame, that you'd know how the other would respond in any given situation. Our first three months of marriage have taught me that, while I knew Scott fairly well while dating, I had so much to still learn about him in marriage. And with that being said, I had so much to learn about myself through marriage. Our honeymoon was no different. I figured that we had been married for a few months and were kind of used to each other's weird habits, what more was there to discover?
You learn a lot about the person you love when you decide to take a trip involving an overnight transatlantic flight, over 24 hours of continuous travel on planes, (unairconditioned) trains, and your good old two feet (in a country where neither of you speak the language). Our first day is one that I don't think either of us will forget anytime soon. After not being able to sleep more than an hour on our flight over to Italy (our plan with going overnight was that we would sleep all night, arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Milan, and finish our traveling to the Italian coast with smiles abounding!), we then encountered problems once in the Milano Centrale train station. I had pre-booked all of our trains but had to figure out how to print tickets at the station. Our tickets kept showing that they were invalid when I entered our online code and my name; after finally realized that they were somehow under Scott's name, we had 4 minutes to get to our train. We ran, only to find that we were at the wrong platform, headed for Geneva, Switzerland, instead of Genova, Italy. We checked the train tables and saw that our platform was on the complete other side of the train station, and we booked it. I thought my chest was going to explode by the time we finally reached our train. We hopped on and felt the train start moving beneath our feet as soon as I shuffled on board.
These were our first "fun" honeymoon quarrels. I was hangry (hungry and angry), hot from running, mad because our train promised a food cart and this was nowhere to be found (we ate a light breakfast on the plane but otherwise had not eaten a meal), baffled by the ridiculousness of our train ticket situation, and feeling like maybe this was all a mistake. Why didn't I try harder to learn the language before we left? How would we survive the next week and a half with things like this going on?
Unfortunately, I can't say that this was an isolated incident. We also had to run to catch our plane yesterday due to several train delays and major inefficiency in the Alitalia check-in process, but I think that by then, we knew how to handle the other person being stressed about travel. We came up with worst-case scenarios (we would be stuck in Milan for another night, I would have to miss work, we would have to spend a little more money for a hotel, etc.), and then we just did what we had to in order to make the best of an unfortunate situation.
I always had a picture in my mind of what honeymoons were like, maybe because of the pictures friends post on Instagram and Facebook. I thought that honeymoons involved lots of drinks with umbrellas in them, nicely tanned skin, complete relaxation, and pure bliss with your new spouse. I'll tell you that our honeymoon was wonderful but NOTHING like what I thought it would be. It was super fun but also very intense, exhausting, at times stressful, and not as relaxing as I thought it would have been. Still, I loved it. And I loved Scott for loving me through my stress, my hangry tendencies, my clumsiness (tripping multiple times, falling off of my Vespa, etc.), my complaining about heat and too much walking. On our honeymoon, he saw me in some of my most imperfect moments, yet he loved me anyways and helped me get through them.
That's what I like to think marriage is about. It's not about the shiny rings or how beautiful your wedding is, it's not about how compatible you are or the things you enjoy doing together. And it's not about how Instragram-worthy your life and your relationship together are. It's about loving the other person unconditionally, as Christ loves us unconditionally. Marriage is about loving someone so intensely through all of their ugly, sloppy, imperfect decisions and words and actions. And it's about showing them unending grace no matter the circumstance. I'm glad that our honeymoon reminded me of that, and though I would have liked to have my toes in the sand with a tall piña colada in my hand as we tossed our heads back laughing until our faces hurt, I'm thankful for the challenges that our honeymoon brought. Loving someone without borders is so incredibly important in marriage, and our honeymoon was not at all when I expected to learn that. But I'm so glad I did.
I should also say that I'm not trying to belittle our honeymoon in anyway. I loved everything about Italy (particularly our time on the Italian Riviera) and learning a new culture with Scott. But I think that it's important to know that they aren't all what they might appear to be (particularly for those who have yet to go on one. I feel confident that even if we had taken one post-wedding, we still would have had a lot to learn about each other, maybe even more so!).
August is here tomorrow and for that, I am thankful. A few weeks ago I had mentioned that August was my month for renewal, and for dealing with all of my Monica closets. I'm excited to tackle them and am looking forward to a renewed mind, body, and spirit. I'm looking forward to joining a gym this month, finally becoming Cristina Davis (couldn't make it official until post-honeymoon thanks to travel regulations with names!), organizing and de-cluttering our apartment, stepping outside of my comfort zone in the kitchen, digging deeper into my study of the Bible, and focusing on writing more (both for blogs, letters to pen pals, and my sloppy manuscript of a book).
Lots of love to you all and so happy to be back stateside with you. Since I am looking forward to writing more this month, drop me your address if you want a new pen-pal... I have a never-ending supply of stationary and lots of fun colored pens to tell you things with!
PS: Hoping to get all of our honeymoon photos organize sometime in August as well (maybe August is going to be busier than anticipated?), but here are some sneak peeks for now!
Florence sunset from Piazelle Michelangelo
Vespa tour through Chianti (hiding my battle wounds well)
Scott on our 8 mile hike through Cinque Terre
Sunset from Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre
Our bikes on lend in Portofino
Scott taking the stairs to the sea in Santa Margherita Ligure