This will be today’s only post, as we are beginning a long weekend to celebrate our 22nd anniversary, an occasion for which, I believe, the gift is irony, though this says copper.
We got married in the backyard of a house we’d just bought together in 1993, on a beautiful September day. The clouds parted, the family gathered, and we stood in the backyard after five years of dating and said, “Sure! Why not? We’ll get married!”
I knew I wanted to live with this man. I wasn’t so sure about marrying him and so this has been an interesting partnership, to say the least. Most people who know us say we probably shouldn’t (or couldn’t) be married to too many people, yet they always remark how cool is it that we managed to find one another.
They only say that about me. But whatever.
We’ve spent 22 years arguing (that would be me). We’ve roared off in cars in anger (me, again), stopped talking for days (him), yet — inexplicably — we’ve mostly managed to get over ourselves and come back together.
Marriage is hard and if any one tells you otherwise, they’re lying. Marriage is compromise, it’s two steps forward/one step back, it’s giving over a piece of yourself that you may not get back, and if you’re not in the habit of giving much away, that sucks.
But somehow? If it’s right? The part that you give away comes back a hundredfold. I do not know how that works. I know it defies all laws of physics — but then, so do we. We have no business attempting compromise. We are too convinced of our own righteousness. We once spent a weekend arguing over who was smarter. I don’t remember who won that argument, but I do remember being fully engaged.
Once, years ago during a particularly rough patch, I gave him my speech about why we’d made a tragic error getting married. I’d crashed one marriage, and was preparing to crash this one and for ever and ever throw in the towel on the whole husband/wife thing. That seemed the easiest way. Some people are not meant for matrimony and I had always suspected I fell in that category.
Exhausted from the discussion, we were sitting on our bed, and the phone rang. It was the oil company, and they wanted to know if we wanted a six-month contract for delivery, or a contract that ran in perpetuity. I do not remember the actual phrase, but that was what I heard when my husband turned to me and said in a voice I’d never heard before: “So. Do we want a six-month contract, or do we want the lifetime one?” In a flash, I saw what life could be like with him. I was only guessing, but I already knew what life was like without him. Life with seemed far preferable. So I answered, “Lifetime.”
They don’t throw you parties for 22. You have to throw one yourself, and to be honest, if any one tries to throw us one for 25, I won’t go and I doubt he will, either. We do not cheapen this with words. We show, don’t tell. He still signs his occasional cards with his full name, including his middle initial. I still flip him the bird when he does that. We exist in a state of imperfection, all while being kind of perfect for each other. I’m not exultant over that. I’m more relieved.
So go out and celebrate as you see fit. I know I intend to.