22 September 2015

number 20
















































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)

20 comments:

  1. Congratulations.

    I am not married, I hope to be. And I LOVE the honesty that marriage is hard, and that there are years where you feel like you might not make it. But it terrifies me, because I just spent two months this summer feeling like it might not work out (actually I spent the first month accepting that highs and lows happen, that this happens, and the next month panicking that - maybe it was more than that) - spending a year or two in that state sounds terrifying, but I still hope to have that chance.

    That's amazing and life is amazing, and love is amazing. I hope to have every opportunity.
    Cheers!

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  2. Oh, this was just wonderful. I adore the then/now pictures of you two. We celebrated our 20th this summer as well—but instead of a romantic trip for two we unloaded yet another moving truck on our anniversary ; )

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  3. happy anniversary! as soon as i saw these photos, i knew it was new orleans. i did my bachelorette weekend in new orleans and ever since, it's had a special place in my heart. i couldn't wait to bring my husband. we enjoyed all of the same things that you did! xo

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  4. Happy Anniversary! That first pic was my gasp, my Wow!, my Andrea has the EYE! Until the last two - you two are just dreamy. xoxo

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  5. happy anniversary! we too celebrated our 20th - with all its ups and downs, and up again.

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  6. Love everything about this. True words about marriage. True love in those (for those) photos. xo

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  7. Dear Andrea,

    No truer words. One great thing about making the 20th milestone is that the future still feels far and wide with the past, that shared beautiful and bloody past, providing nourishment and wisdom. It's a gift that
    you earned and surely one of life's accomplishments to honor and celebrate.

    Cheers and congratulations.

    Gina

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  8. seeing new orleans this way makes me want to go even more than i already did. such good words, such real words of truth, hope and conviction. may the Lord continue to bless your marriage and may you have more and more of the good stuff.

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  9. This was beautiful. And real. Happy 20th.

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  10. Love you both. Yours is the story of a great love.

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  11. Andrea, you are my September gift. Happy 20 years lovelie, xO

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  12. I was in tears by the end of the post. So moving, so true, so heartfelt. And I won't even start talking about the photos. Thank you, Andrea. I know it's weird - we never had the chance to meet and probably never will, but I feel you strangely close, I hope you won't find this creepy.

    Happy anniversary from someone who did not make it the first time (25 years ago - I guess I was around your age back then) and who is desperately trying to make it now, the second time around.

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  13. Me and my guy are at 29! yikes...and everything you said, so eloquently, is true. Thank you for sharing - as always I love your photos.
    Congratulations! Here's to 20 more.

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  14. Sitting here in tears at the lovely honesty at your words & images. You capture the then & now so beautifully. We just celebrated our 22nd..and I hope that there is a little bit of those Newlyweds in us somewhere…though we are much changed by the journey and one another. It's truly not for the faint of heart, but so worth the ride.

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  15. Sitting in tears at your lovely words & images. My husband and I just celebrated 22 years and we are much changed by each other our life together. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, but so worth the journey. Congrats to the both of you on yours!

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  16. a little late to the congrats - but congrats to you guys! we'll be celebrating 10 this year - and loved your truth. so much truth. new orleans looks amazing. many more happy returns.

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  17. Oh Wow! Sorry we are so late to the party! Well done on 20 years! Many happy returns from Will, Liz, Fin & Evie over here in Pembrokeshire!

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