22 September 2015
september third rolled around last year and we realized, hey. we made it. we made it to twenty, our twentieth wedding anniversary. which is no small feat because, as you know, marriage is hard, marriage is tough, marriage is not for the faint of heart. it's a radical, magnificent thing and it is not to be entered into lightly. full disclosure: there were a few years there I wasn't sure we were going to make it.
but, we made it. maybe not without a few bruises, a few proverbial tender spots, but we made it. and we celebrated the heck out of things with a road trip (just the two of us) down to new orleans, the city where we honeymooned two decades ago. we celebrated with a room at the same tiny old french quarter hotel we stayed at back in 1994, the one with the old wooden green shutters, the quiet, mossy courtyards and gurgling fountains with fat goldfish, the little swimming pool and continental breakfast (which is exactly the same as it was twenty years ago, by the way: croissants, orange juice, coffee, newspaper) and the smell of the place-- something like old wood, powdered sugar and humidity--that is also, somehow, miraculously the same.
and things were the same in new orleans, but they weren't. just like we're those same two kids, but we aren't. and we celebrated this, the way things stay the same (but they don't) with beignets and bike rides, followed by an afternoon swim followed by a catnap followed by street music followed by po' boys followed by moonlight. and while there wasn't a bottle of champagne waiting for us when we checked in like there was twenty years ago, there was this: a second-line wedding parade, pouring out of our hotel the exact moment we arrived. a bride and groom and a cavalcade of big brass horns and people waving white handkerchiefs and paper fans and plastic solo cups and before we could even get the luggage out of the car, before we even knew what was happening, we were swept up in it, marching along side the thing, as if the parade was our parade and the musicians were playing for us. the bride, twirling her white cotton parasol and the wedding party, drunkenly lifting plastic cups to us. and we kept thinking, well, this was us. twenty years ago, this was us. minus the second-line parade, of course, but teeming with hope, floating along in that completely different plane of existence, the one reserved solely for the newly wed, those perched at the beginning of the beginning, who can so clearly and confidently see years into their spectacular infinite happy forever.
I wanted to pull that bride aside and tell her things. I wanted to tell her all that I know now, that it will be hard, so hard. that things might crumble a little bit, things might actually crumble a lot. the floor will feel shaky sometimes and there will be cracks, they will need your attention. it will be real work, real not-kidding-around hard, hard work. you might walk through a little fire, you won't be able get around it. there are no alternate routes, no shortcuts. you'll just have to walk through it and let it melt and shape you, the both of you. but it will be worth it, all of it and if you're lucky, if you really work at it, you'll make it. and you'll celebrate your twentieth wedding anniversary with a wedding parade that is not exactly in your honor, but you won't care, not really, because you made it. you made it. and you can't wait to celebrate the next one, you can't wait to celebrate again.
and again and again and again.
(number 20 off the list, properly celebrated)