Our next big anniversary is coming. I have two years to prepare.
What is a year made of? How about twenty-eight of them? I’ve been married (to the same person) for exactly that amount of time, as of today. While many people all over the world share the same milestone, it feels unique, and — dare I say — special. It’s a milestone, but also a millstone. It marks you, doesn’t it? Especially in these times.
You did what? For how long? And — gasp — with the same person?
The irony of my marriage is pretty obvious, when set against the number of houses I’ve lived in (three), the number of jobs I’ve had (let’s just say more than ten, and leave it at that), the number of friends I’ve cycled through (though, to be fair, my best friends are my oldest friends… you know who you are and thank you).
Yes, amid all that turmoil, nail-biting and late night what-if sessions I have with myself about old college boyfriends, I’ve stayed married for twenty-eight years to the same person.
We’re a heterosexual couple in a changed world, and for the better. We’ve seen fads come and go, and the music we danced to at our wedding is now on the oldies station (yes, I still listen to the radio). But what of all this? Does it matter? When I look across the breakfast table at my partner, as the years go by, and watch him grow and age and change, yet still be the same funny, passionate man I met on a blind date so many years ago, I’m happy I stayed here. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure. I hope he feels the same about me.
That’s the nub of it, isn’t it? I care about what he thinks of me.
Did I meet his expectations as someone he could talk to, get excited with, explore and discover the world with? Does he turn to me when he’s in trouble, has a new ache or pain, or just wants to go for a ride in our (equally) old Miata? I can say, from the evidence, the answer is yes to all the above. I feel the same way about him. We both have family, other people who need us and want to spend time with us.
But we reserve our best time, what our elders used to call the time of our lives, for each other.
The walk after dinner. The time set aside in a busy weekend to go to a romantic movie. Sharing one single cupcake to save on the calories. Looking up new places to go. Together. It’s a good word. It doesn’t matter if that togetherness happens to be with the one you’re married to, as it is for us. It can be a special anyone, relative or friend, new or old, near or far. Those people we reserve the best of ourselves for, whose voice we love to hear on the other end of the phone/Zoom/Facetime. And when they go, as we all will someday, it’s the sound of their voices we’ll miss the most, responding to some new headache, some new passion, some new discovery.
Ah, twenty-eight years. Not a major anniversary. I have two more years, if I’m lucky, to prepare for that.
And when thirty arrives, we may have to mark it with a mental vacation, candles set along the floor, the smell of something lovely baking in the oven. And lots to talk about, always more to talk about, in this swirling concoction we call a married life. I love my husband. He is exactly what I was looking for, all those years ago. The core of who we are never changed, even through some rough times. Love is like an ocean, they say; we all can swim in it, do the backstroke, splash around. It’s not without its dangers, of course. Because we are willing to, in some part, put our happiness in another human being, we’re bound to be disappointed some days.
But — I’ll take it. I’ll take it all.
If only to have something to look forward to, two years from now, two years from this inconsequential, in-between time, this time of love that flies away every minute, up into the ether, far beyond the clouds, until he turns to me and asks me, smiling, if I’d like to take a ride in our old Miata, dangling the keys until they make their own music in the air.
Thirty and so forth.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?