Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our Seventeenth Anniversary

Today, Sunday, is Stephanie's and my seventeenth wedding anniversary. It has been a good, good day. Nothing too out of the ordinary. In fact, Stephanie wasn't feeling well for a good portion of the morning and rested on the couch. Just prior to her lying down, we exchanged small gifts with one another. Hers were all about wanting me to look and feel good. Mine were about planning for the future. Later, I went out for a run. Our kids played at the neighbor's house. Then, this evening, we all went out to dinner.

As I say, it was a pretty ordinary day. We are, when it comes down to it, pretty ordinary people. It doesn't take much to make us happy. Having our girls around us, visiting with friends, a blue sky, and just being with one another. That said, part of the ordinary day was thinking about how we want to all go to Spain soon. And Washington D.C. And Paris. And so on. We keep thinking about how the future will be the four of us together.

I think about how easy it is to lose all these things. Marriage is tough even over the course of a handful of years. By seventeen, I would have thought it would be easy, but of course it's not. Relationships are all about negotiations and understandings. And there is all the stuff we have to navigate on our own inside a marriage. I remember turning forty and having the absolute cliche mid-life crisis that I had always believed I would be well above. Nah, I sunk deep into it. All that self-doubt. All that self-absorption. I look back on it now and shake my head but also have some understanding for the guy I was and the relationship we were in. In other words, I have a bit of compassion for us.

I wonder what our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary will look like. When we were married seventeen years ago, I never imagined the idea that we could fall apart. Now, having watched others fall apart, having seen how difficult marriage can get, and understanding just the tiniest bit more about life than I did back then, I know that our staying together for another seventeen years is anything but guaranteed. That thought would have scared me seventeen years ago and I would have pushed the anxiety away. Hard. Now, I don't know, I just feel more comfortable with not knowing how things are going to go.

It's a wonderful thing to be in love. It is, for my money, even more wonderful to go through time with someone and experience love in its many forms. To see love wax and wane, to know it as something fragile and then as a thing unbreakable. New love, the kind you know at first sight is a thing beyond measure, but so to is the worn love, the kind that has been rubbed smooth by time and has become so familiar.

Tonight, going out to dinner, Stephanie put on a jean skirt, a sweater, and a pair of knee high boots that I love. She looked to me exactly as she has since I've known her. I looked at her and thought, "wow," and "I know that girl" all at the same moment. Then, after dinner, looking through old pictures, I saw how much we have both changed in knowing and being married to one another. We're still the same people, but we're different. We look the same, but oh, how we have changed. And love is just like that.

I suppose that all of this is tired old cliche. Oh well. I can live with that. In fact, I can depend upon that. Having this kind of comfort to depend upon is life saving. Knowing that as much as we depend on our love, we have to work at our love no longer gives me a reason to worry. It makes me smile. I mean, what better work can there be in this world than finding new depths of love for one another?

For whatever reason, as I was typing that last paragraph, I saw out of the corner of my eye that Stephanie paused whatever it is she is typing and looked at me. I didn't disturb her because I know that one of the pleasures of my life is to stare at her when I can. I just want to drink in the look of her, the look of who she has always been, the look of love.

Happy Anniversary, Stephanie. And many, many more.

Write on.