Twenty years ago today, I had a first date with the rest of my life. Totaled my car on the way to meet him, filled out the police report, watched them load my racy red sports car onto a wrecker truck, and hitched a ride with a kindly policeman who dropped me off at the appointed time.
Looking back, I think there is a metaphor there: keep moving forward. Granted, that may also be a line from the Disney movie Finding Nemo.
We have kids now. We are easily confused. For his part, Mr. Wonderful likes to say that if your date arrives in a squad car, you will rarely be bored. Sixteen years ago we eloped. A surprise wedding that was a surprise even to the bride! I knew I was getting married, of course. I just didn’t know that it would be that particular day.
No flowers, no cake, no bridesmaids. No regrets. A perfect(ish) marriage has always meant more to me than the perfect wedding.
Fifteen years ago our firstborn son was born — and I was sure I had never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life — until his little sister was born two years later.
Over the years we have had four houses, three cats, five dogs, seven goats and numerous bats who wish to remain nameless. We had the same pickup truck until last week. We’re loyal like that.
With 20 years in a committed relationship under my belt, I find that the above mentioned quote resonates with me more and more each day.
Although we certainly don’t know what goes on in someone else’s relationship, I do see a certain, pattern, shall we say, in the patterns of some. Namely: when the fireworks are over they are too. Worse, they will replace the fireworks of first love with the fireworks of dramatic breakups and makeups — anything to feel truly alive
I don’t know why that is. To me real life has always been exciting enough. Marriage, children, pets and friends provide the seasoning and flavors of life. When we married we became a team. When we had children — a tribe. We live, love, laugh and if you harm one of us, they may not find your body. Romantic, no?
I know there are people for whom 20 years does not happen through no fault of their own. They have my sympathy. For others 20 years was not meant to be but they are relieved to be free of a marriage that did not work. To them I wish all the best.
Then there are the rest of us. The ones for whom the years have rolled along, blessedly and merrily. The ones who swear they just climbed into a cute boy’s pickup truck last year, said “I do” last month, and brought home two babies last week.
The fact that 20 years with the exact same person has gone by so quickly is both a blessing — and quite a surprise. Twenty years? How does that happen?
I think the key is that at the end of the day, my spouse is still the person I want to see — and be with. He is the person who will listen to a long-winded recitation of my day. He will be there. Show up. Stay there.
I still like his voice on the telephone, his smile in person and his ability to overlook the incredibly stupid things I do every single day. That’s love baby. More importantly, that’s “like.” I think you have to fundamentally LIKE the person you partner with in addition to a foundation of love.
A friend, struggling in her own relationship, once asked me bluntly “but does your heart still speed up when you hear him come home.” My honest answer: yes. I can honestly say that in the 20 years we have been together, I still get a little thrill to his car in the driveway — just like that first date.
I can’t answer for him but I hope the same is true. If not, I can always hitch a ride in a police cruiser. I’m sure that would speed his heart right up.