Happy Anniversary to Us!

Justin and I are celebrating eight years today! Because he’s working today, we decided to celebrate a little early (last Friday, since he had the day off) and check out a nearby touristy town. We dropped Jake off with my parents on Friday morning and headed to Abingdon, Virginia. Why Virginia, you ask? Because…

Virginia is for lovers!

Virginia is for lovers!

Aaaand because I went to Abingdon with my parents years ago and I thought it was such a neat little town, I wanted to take Justin to see it. There was a really charming little used bookstore that I remembered and I wanted to try to find it again, but it seemed to have closed since I last went to visit. It also kept raining off and on all day, and we definitely got caught outside in it a few times because Abingdon is more of a walking town than a driving town. Nevertheless, we made the best of it and we had a fun day.

We ate lunch at a place called Bone Fire Smokehouse (even though the sign on the outside is actually for a hardware store–just like Luke’s in Gilmore Girls!) They had a “bar” of about ten different flavors of barbeque sauces to try, and we tried them all. It was delicious!

lunch collage

We also did a lot of touristy things while we were in town. We did a lot of window-shopping, despite the ominous storm clouds. The tree-lined streets and storefronts in Abingdon are so cute–like a postcard! Or actually, a lot like Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls! (I’m just starting to realize the real reason that I wanted to visit this place…) We searched in vain for awhile for the beginning of the Virginia Creeper Trail, and we accidentally walked a different trail that wasn’t it (though we encountered a few people who would definitely qualify as “creepers,” so you can understand our confusion). We also traipsed around the grounds of the Martha Washington Inn (which used to be a women’s college in the early 1900’s) and participated in all of the things that the signs told us were reserved explicitly for “hotel guests only” (we are so rebellious!). We even happened upon an empty ballroom–gorgeous!– that looked like something straight out of a Victorian novel. Justin insisted on taking me for a spin around the dance floor, until we were interrupted by a very surprised woman on the hotel staff, and I ran away down the hall giggling.

We visited two former train depots located right next to the railroad tracks that border Abingdon. The passenger depot was converted to a library (pictured below), but the original ticket counter has been preserved. Justin refused to go into the library on principle, because he is too suspicious of me entering a library, bookstore, etc. and claiming, “I just want to look for a MINUTE.” When I exited the library, I found him playing on his phone on a bench, fully expecting me to leave him there for an hour or more–poor guy! But I didn’t! I only went in for a minute (a TRUE minute), possibly due to the fact that it was a non-fiction historical library where older folks could be found researching the town and their ancestors, etc. Not my cup of tea.

touristy collage

The neighboring freight depot was also converted to an art studio/gallery. It was split up into at least twelve different rooms, each a studio for a working artist with gallery pieces hanging on the walls. It was an interesting concept, but also a little awkward, as we couldn’t truly critique any of the artwork we saw since the artist was generally sitting RIGHT THERE, working on a new piece. Some of the art was really good, and some of it was…interesting. In some studios, Justin and I would walk in and immediately exchange a look–you know the one, with the raised eyebrows that seems to ask, “What IS this!?” and with a surreptitious glance at the artist, we would quietly move along. I tried to take a picture of one of the galleries that was empty of an artist, but wouldn’t you know it–the artist we had just slighted (did he notice the look?) came around the corner and gave me a long hard stare, so I put my camera away.

Feeling a little British? And a little phony (haha) since this booth was missing an actual telephone.

Feeling a little British? And a little phony (haha) since this booth was missing an actual telephone.

Justin reluctantly agreed to take this extra manly photo standing on the passenger bridge over the railroad tracks with the storm clouds looming behind him. We found this spot along the Non-Creeper Trail.

Justin reluctantly agreed to take this extra manly photo standing on the passenger bridge over the railroad tracks with the storm clouds looming behind him. We found this spot along the Non-Creeper Trail.

We ended our day by visiting an old flour mill (I actually wanted to visit a cemetery we saw that had some REALLY old tombs dating back to the 1800’s, but Justin wouldn’t let me because he thought it was too creepy. Is it creepy to visit a cemetery when you don’t know anyone buried there?). It was a few miles outside of town, and before we knew it, we found ourselves out in the country–in the foothills of the mountains. We almost thought we were lost, but there it was, just like the photo on the website.

I forgot to take a picture of the actual mill. This is the gift shop across the street.

I forgot to take a picture of the actual mill. This was the mercantile shop across the street.

Almost as soon as we left the shelter of our car and entered the mill, it started pouring rain. I’m talking about the kind of torrential downpour that made us wonder about the structural integrity of the building. “Can this place can hold up to this much water?” crossed my mind a couple of times, as the old wooden floorboards were creaky and loose to begin with. The sound of the rain hitting the tin roof was so loud we nearly had to shout to each other to be heard. It would have been an ideal time to step outside and have a Notebook moment…


But who am I kidding? I don’t like to stand in the RAIN! And Justin could NEVER hold me up with one arm like that…

So we settled for sitting on the front porch swing and waiting out the storm.

A super boring scene from our own romantic feature film ;-)

A super boring scene from our own romantic feature film 😉

We’ve been married for EIGHT years, friends. That sounds like a long time (to us kids, who are still in our twenties). We recently found out that another couple we know, who had their wedding within weeks of ours, has decided to get divorced. It was kind of a somber discovery…but we don’t judge them. We get it. When we found out, we were silent for a moment, and then Justin looked at me and admitted, “Marriage is hard.” (And then I smacked him, of course.) But he’s right. We’ve been together in sickness (and health). We’ve been poor (and rich not as poor). We’ve traveled the world together, weathered a million moves and just as many jobs, and decided to bring a child into the mix. Our experiences have changed us over time, and we are not the same people we were when we decided to get married. I’m not sure if we totally understood what we were signing ourselves up for back then. We were in college, and everything was easy and fun, and we couldn’t really imagine how at times, things would get hard. We maybe didn’t fully believe our pastor during pre-marital counseling, when he tried to convince us that marriage “takes work.” We’ve come to find that it does, and it’s easy to let other things get in the way and take priority over each other. But there’s no one I’d rather work on it with than this guy–my best friend. I’ve never met anyone who could be so infuriating, and who I could love so much, all at the same time. He makes me mad, but then the next minute, he makes me laugh, and I have a hard time keeping my serious, “You’re in big trouble, mister!” face straight. Our relationship is different now than it was at the beginning. It’s richer, stronger….weathered, but more deeply rooted than it was at the start.

Happy Slapsgiving

Happy Anniversary to us!

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13 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary to Us!

  1. 8 years!! Happy anniversary. I’m so happy that you are married to your best friend. What a lovely way to spend the anniversary!

  2. Aunt Heidi

    Again, after reading your blog, I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and a knot in my throat. I am so proud of the woman you have become. You have had to make some really tough decisions in your life that I would not have wanted to make. I am so proud that you always seemed to make the choices that were right for you which tells me you know who you are and what you want out of life. This is a very mature trait for such a young person, one I’m not sure I have yet. Again, I am very proud of you and I know you will be successful in whatever you do in your life. I am also so happy that you have found someone to share your life with who can help you and support you through it. I love you. Happy “8” years!!

    Heidi 🙂

    • Aunt Heidi! You’re going to make me cry! I am so blessed to have so many good role models in my family–you and Howard included–to show me (by example) what it means to have a healthy marriage! 🙂

  3. Oh happy anniversary, you guys!! I love all the sweet, sappy stuff you wrote at the end (you know I’m a sucker for stuff like that). I especially like that you used the word “weathered” to describe your marriage. I think that’s awesome. Our marriages do go through so much and when they come out on the other end still strong and standing… “weathered” is the perfect description! 🙂

    Also, it looks like you guys had a blast! I love all of your rebellious ways! The idea of you running from the ballroom had me laughing. So glad you guys had so much fun exploring and celebrating together! Happy eight years! 🙂

    • I was hoping no one would be offended by my choice of words with “weathered.” I think something weathered has proven to be tougher and last longer than something brand new and untested! We’re not all giggles and butterflies in the stomach like we were in the beginning, but I think what we have now is better than that. 🙂

  4. Debbi Hodges

    Happy Anniversary, Rachel and Justin! I love your posts, Abbington, love bookstores and cemeteries, too! I am looking forward to seeing you in August and meeting sweet little Jake! Keep relying on God through all the “hard” times of marriage-He will bless your faithfulness-to Him and each other!
    Love you! Aunt Debbi

  5. Teena Cone

    Wow, every time I read your blogs I realize what a great writer you are! You can bring vivid pictures to mind even when it’s a place I’ve never been and emotions to my heart in just a few sentences! It sounds like you have a good idea of what marriage is and the work it takes to keep it going strong. One of the greatest joys I have as your Mom is watching you with your own family and seeing what a great wife and mother you are! I’m so glad you all have moved here so I can spend more time doing that! Happy Anniversary and wishing you and Justin many more years of love, friendship, and exciting adventures!

  6. Happy Anniversary!! This looked like such a fun day trip 🙂 I’ve actually been on a biking/camping trip down the Creeper Trail with my family. One of the best vacations we took when I was a kid. And Matt and I both also like to look through old cemeteries. I know most people find that very odd, but it’s interesting to read centuries old tombstones and contemplate how different life was for those people.

    • I’m glad you get it! I tried to tell Justin it wouldn’t be creepy to look through that cemetery. They even had a brochure of notable tombs to look at–slaves buried alongside soldiers, etc. It looked really neat!

      On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 9:49 PM, the new normal. wrote:


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