22 September 2015
september third rolled around last year and we realized, hey-- we made it. we made it to twenty. we made it to 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 radical and magnificent 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. not without a few bruises, a few tender spots, but we made it. and we celebrated the heck out of it 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, with the wooden green shutters and the quiet mossy courtyards and gurgling fountains fat with goldfish, the small curvy swimming pool and continental breakfast (which, by the way, is exactly the same as it was twenty years ago: croissants, orange juice, coffee, newspaper). the smell of the place-- something like old wood, powdered sugar and humidity 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 that poured out of our hotel the exact moment we arrived. a bride and groom, a cavalcade of big brass horns and people waving white handkerchiefs and paper fans and plastic solo cups and before we could get our luggage out of the car, before we even knew what was happening we were swept up in it. and we marched along side the thing, as if the parade was our parade and the musicians were playing for us. the bride twirled her white cotton parasol and the wedding party drunkenly lifted plastic cups and we thought, 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. 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 demand your attention. it will be work, real not-kidding-around hard work. you will 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)