Marriage in a year

"We've been married 55 years this June", she said to me, and she lovingly patted her smiling husband's shoulder as they took their seats in the waiting room. I had struck up a conversation with them in the elevator, and learned they moved to California from Nebraska, where they met in grade school. She - a farmer's daughter, and he - a teacher's son, got married at the age of 19 and traveled the country while he sold insurance and she wrote books.

We continued our conversation about love and marriage and writing until their name was called by the nurse at the door.

"Just remember to put each other first, always", the husband said, as he nodded and ushered his wife through the maze of chairs. 

After we bid farewell, and they disappeared hand-in-hand behind the walls dividing us, I pulled out my calculator app and did the math. When I have been married for 55 years, I will (hopefully) be 87 years old. And, I wonder what kind of conversations I will be having with a woman in a waiting room, who is about to celebrate 12 whole months of marriage.

Our very first photo together

Our very first photo together

 

I would probably be telling her that my husband and I sort of met when we both worked at Hannaford - a supermarket in Upstate New York, where we both attended neighboring high schools. I was a cashier, and he was a bagger (giggles). I thought he was fascinatingly attractive, but he was also in a reggae/ska/rock band, and for some reason, I thought he seemed really high on himself for that, which gave me the impression if we ever did talk to one another, he would annoy me. Because, we were just really different. How else can I put this...he was skaterish PacSun, and I was preppy Abercrombie. He was Sublime and Goldfinger, while I rotated Dave Matthews and Britney Spears. But, what's weird - is that we had a couple really good mutual friends, but never seemed to be in the same place at the same time with them. Thinking back on that, that was probably a good thing.

Life went on for many years - around 12 or so - and I was on the cusp of my 30th birthday. I was a local blogger who often shared my own dating mishaps and hilarious misfortunes, and I had a Match.com account. Those two things go splendidly together, at times. While chatting with a girlfriend over a glass of wine about how she thought I could do something differently in dating - she encouraged me to be the "initiator." So, I saw a cute guy with an interesting profile on Match.com, and 'winked' at him. There, I initiated! I remember joking, and then at a second glance, I noticed that guy was none other than punky Supermarket Bagger Boy. Crap, I thought, he's totally going to make fun of me, or think I'm a total dork. 

But, he didn't. He sent me a message that he had had "the biggest crush" on me back then. Which, to this day, I am sure was an exaggerated convenient line with some sort of truth to it (I was kinda cute - and really cool). But, line or not - it certainly got my attention.

And, a first date. The day after my 30th birthday, a familiar face was at my door. We went to dinner and chatted endlessly about things I can't remember now - but it was so comfortable, interesting, fascinating and exciting. On our second date, he said he hoped I wasn't, and wouldn't, see anyone else. I would have normally thought a second date was way too soon to put such wishes on someone - but it didn't feel like our second date. 

I'll fast-forward a bit through the courtship of roses, dinners, movies, trips to see live music, weekend getaways to Saratoga Springs, Boston and Montreal, and endless discussions of meaningful things, secrets shared and uncontrollable laughter. The decision to live together, and the decision to move to Chicago together. The "Yes, of course I'll marry you!" and the wedding planning, and the wedding, and the honeymoon - and the move to California - because that would take forever. 

But, I will share that this first year of marriage did consist of a lot more than I think most couples take on. We married exactly a year ago today, and drove cross-country from Chicago to California two months later. We settled in to a brand-new-to-us part of the country (again), and unpacked our new married life together. We both took on new positions in work (again), with new people, new things to explore - and when the dust of that settled, we had this brand new title of Husband and Wife. 

We focused on building a life in a new place, together. We both navigated these huge changes in life together, during this first year of marriage - through the periods of annoying the {choose your expletive} out of each other, the balance of being the 70% when the other person is at 30%, the periods of blissful happiness and pride in what we have achieved together, so far. 

Some people say you don't feel different after being married. Some people say "It's just a technicality; it's just paperwork; it doesn't make you become a different person." But, I say that's wrong. We changed as a couple. Our bond became deeper, and our focus changed even more inward to building our foundation for a family. "Put each other first, always." We put each other first, to build it up, and build it strong.

I think our love story is really quite amazing, and I could fill more space on it, with more details. But really - what it all comes down to, is that our second date didn't feel like a second date. And this first year didn't feel like a year. It doesn't feel like 55 years, either.

It feels like forever.