That's one way. A marriage can be measured by the hours, days and years - like sands in an hourglass that we used to make our dream castles in the sky and our lived sandcastles at our feet. For us, it would be eight years, today.
There's also distance. From Philadelphia to Boston (517 km) which is here he flew to give a talk at Boston University and deliver a guitar to Matthias' apartment, where I opened the door and lost my heart. From US to China (7,852 km), when I spent six weeks in Hangzhou while he completed the last few months of his postdoc. From Philadelphia to Boston and Boston to Toronto in one fell swoop as we moved him out, moved me in (at 2am) and drove straight to Toronto to arrive in time for my Godmother's 80th birthday (1,400 km). And the difficult distance between France and Boston during those first Crazy in Love months where he had to take the post, already accepted before we met (6,003 km). From US to Germany. France to Singapore, Seville, Addis Ababa and on and on and on. And to be continued.
We could also measure it in words. The boxful of handwritten letters we wrote each other that still make me weep, swoon, laugh, and recalibrate. The new words I learned in French until I knew enough to have another language in my brain and could finally speak to my love and his parents in their language. The perfectly chosen cards. The little notes left around the house. The text messages of encouragement and love. Books we read, sometimes together, but more often lost in our own texts.
Food is another unit. Numerous dark chocolate Gelatos in Lucca holding hands as we turn a corner to another charming treasure. Countless salmon and potato pizza with champagne to celebrate anything and everything. Bites of Al dente's profiterole. Visits to Thai cafe. Axum. His mother's chicken. That salad dressing. Bottles and bottles of Buzet and Bordeau. Boxes of petite Beures. Vietnamese street food. His morning omelets made every morning for me, each one better than the day before.
I like to count in breathes - like when I stopped breathing as he proposed, after six months together. I had already known I wanted to marry him for 5 months and two weeks. When I exhaled as he held my hand through many difficult moments and I could let go and not have to be strong all the time. When we inhaled scents of ancient worlds at the spice market in Marrakesh. And all those times we held our breath in anticipation, in joy, in worry, in grief, in love.
We could also count in elements and symbols. This is the year of poppies for the dragon and the tiger.
Or by hikes, by runs, by belly laughs, twirls as we dance on the kitchen floor.
I look back at the trail of our decade of life together and eight as husband and wife and see family and friends; I count the moments that thrilled us and scared us. I know there is no unit for this love that can give it a true measure. But if I had to, if I was absolutely forced to, I would measure my marriage in binary.
There was no one I could imagine wanting to spend my life with. And then, from almost the moment I met him, there was only him.