Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Thirty years ago today, Michael and I got married in my father’s backyard on Pleasant Street in Urbana. All our siblings were there, as was my grandmother, brought by one of my heroic cousins and Michael’s grandmother, similarly shepherded by a cousin. We each had two parents there, or, in my case, one parent and one semi-parent, along with many friends still in our lives today.
Like all long-term relationships, ours has had its up and downs and we’ve had to work at it pretty seriously. Even knowing how much work it’s been at times, we’d do it over again in a heartbeat. What might have been nice to know, though, is that there are rhythms and patterns to the stressors of life, including various stages of the growth of children over time, and to have had a little more information about how to recognize and respond to them. Maybe, though, you just have to work your way through this stuff? Nah, I don’t subscribe to that. Just as I have wished that there was stage-ready information available to me at each turn throughout my recovery progress this year, stage-of-life information would be useful for long-term relationships.
Thirty years is an odd chunk of time. We are now the oldest generation in our families, with no surviving parents or grandparents, and of course, we now have the wonderful children who were not there on that July day so many years ago. Thirty years from now, we hope we’ll both still be around, but it seems likely that this pattern will continue and that we won’t see the thirtieth anniversary of our children. Now that is odd to contemplate. Thirty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine some of the changes that have taken place since that time, including the closing of the lab where we both worked and where we met or the other twists and turns of the world of work.
Today, Michael stayed home from his usual Tuesday sports activity (boules) and we just hung out together. I tried to convince him it was traditional for him to play sports on this day, but he decided to watch the Tour later at home in its place. On our wedding day, he played most of the day in a softball tournament, much to the consternation of my step-mother, who believed he should drop out of it. He was the pitcher for his team, though, and its only pitcher, so I didn’t see any good reason that he should. I attended the early games in the morning, and kept score, but did skip the 1 p.m. game, as we were getting married at 4. When the team won that game, there was an hour or two in which we looked at the prospect that if they won again, they’d be scheduled to play at 4. That really flipped her out.
Since we were getting married in the back yard and had food at the house for afterwards, I figured we’d eat first and get married second when he finished playing. The minister had a flexible schedule and had no objection, the food was ready and available, so I didn’t see a problem. You can hardly imagine the drama my plan produced, in an event already replete with drama. Plan B never came into play, as the team lost the game that would have necessitated the rearrangement of the events. I can still hear the dire warnings that this was a very bad sign for him to choose to play a game over getting married and more; how committed could such a man be? My theory was that if he had to choose, of course he’d choose to get married, but I didn’t see why he had to choose. That drama complemented the package of the now-famous tussles over the chocolate cake (scandalous), absence of a string quartet (apparently de riguer for a “proper” wedding), “wrong” wedding rings (not traditional in style for mine or where to be worn for him), and the yellow dress (what would her friends think?). And yet, despite our choices, here we are still as hooked on each other as we were then. Just older and wiser and calmer. Still happy to be in each other’s company, still facing the world and the future together.
Our tradition--introduced to us by friends many years ago--is to get something for the house every year on our anniversary. We’ve gotten some cool stuff over the years each with its own set of memories from our flea-market grandfather clock to portraits of the girls, which now that I think about it, was a large enough investment that we combined it with our birthday and Christmas presents to each other. This year’s item hasn’t yet presented itself to us, nor has the right restaurant for dinner. We’ve had some grand dinners over the years, including the one that served ginger-champagne cocktails as starters. We’re looking forward to figuring out what the right one is and to enjoying it when the time comes. Tonight, we’ll be sitting on the terrace, drinking champagne and thinking fondly of all the family and friends who have surrounded and loved us through our journey together.