Wednesday, May 23, 2012

20 years wed

Because I write my blog the day before I post it, I’m doing something that my superstitious nature normally resists. I’m making a presumptive statement about an event that hasn’t occurred yet. Today, as I post this entry – May 23rd , 2012 – it’s my 20th wedding anniversary. Anticipating neither the end of the world nor the demise of my marriage within the next 24 hours, I’m assuming it will be okay to go out on that limb, just this once, and write that on Tuesday, even though it’s still a day away.

Normally, Rick and I don’t make a big deal about anniversaries. We’re always up for a small celebration, but the idea of measuring the years as milestones has never really made sense to me. In for a penny, in for a pound, I like to say; if you expect to stay married, two years, ten years and twenty become indistinguishable.

And I still feel that way. It seems to me the most challenging years of marriage are the first year of sharing a household and the first year of parenthood. Once you’ve made it past both of those watermarks – whether they happen in the course of the legal institution or separate from it -- everything else seems equally challenging and equally triumphant to me. Last fall, my family and I attended the wedding of a couple who had lived together for several years and had a two-year-old son. Even though we don’t know them very well, I felt reassured as I listened to them exchange vows, thinking that they’ve already gone through the hardest parts.

I suppose it would be fitting to take out our wedding album and browse through it, were the album not packed away in a storage box in the garage of our rental home right now. Even without it, though, I can remember an abundance of details from that unseasonably warm late-May day in the middle of Memorial Day weekend: seeing my high school and college and workplace friends gathered together; the three grandparents on my side and two on my husband’s who are now gone; the tiny pearl buttons on the back of the same lacy dress that my mother had worn thirty years earlier; the chocolate hazelnut cake my sister made.

I’m not sure what the 25-year-old who posed for that wedding album would think of the person who write about her two decades later. The future seldom unfolds quite the way you imagine it will, and yet I’ve never spent a lot of time or imagination projecting ahead. I don’t think I had any particular expectations for what my life would look like 20 years hence, and I don’t think anything about it would surprise me too much.

A quick Google search informs me that the traditional 20th anniversary gift is china, but I don’t plan to give Rick any fragile collectibles today and I doubt he’ll do so for me, either. For the past several years, we’ve chosen to celebrate our anniversary by doing something special with our kids, figuring they’re the best and most tangible by-product of the 20-year union. This year we’ll once again take them on a weekend getaway, once the weather is a little warmer.

“How’s married life?” wrote an unmarried friend to me recently.

“Oh, I can think of about 200 different adjectives for it, and my guess is so can my husband and so can almost anyone else who’s been married for 20 years,” I responded.

Yes, truth be told, I probably can think of 200 different adjectives. Marriage is a lot of different things, especially two decades in. But most of my adjectives are complimentary, at least today. And I’d like to think as of this date I can add a 201st adjective for my own union: long-lasting. It’s been a fine 20 years, and I hope we celebrate plenty more milestone years yet to come.

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