This week, on July 2, Patrick and I were married for 29 years. Not one of the milestones–one of the in-between years, I suppose, but still…a long time.
I used to try to remember what we did for every anniversary, but there are too many now. We had seven anniversaries b.c., before children. I remember we tried to make each one romantic and special, though I’d be hard-pressed now to tell you what we did. On our tenth anniversary, we left toddler Ryan with my sister so that we could spend a week on the island of Molokai. But by our 14th anniversary, we were two kids in and money was tighter. We felt lucky to get a night off to go to the movies and dinner. On our 20th anniversary, we splurged and took the kids to Disneyland for a couple days, came home in time for fireworks, and then spent three days painting our living room and kitchen.
For the life of me, I can’t remember what we did on our 25th anniversary. Neither can Patrick! He offered to go into Quicken and check our spending–maybe see what restaurant we went to. But it’s not important what we did. Milestones are only markers in a life. The in-between times are when the real living is done. It’s the days that run into each other and over each other like pictures in a collage that make up a life.
I can’t remember how Patrick and I celebrated every anniversary, but I remember snuggling in a tent in the mountains of New Mexico and walking on the beach in Hawaii. I remember changing diapers and rocking babies, chalk drawings on the driveway and squealing children running through the backyard sprinklers. Summer movies, winter hikes, the Renaissance Festival, and the State Fair. Baseball games. I remember dinner conversations at the table with the kids with no topic off-limits, TV in the evenings, and game nights on the weekends. The separate in-between days don’t distinguish themselves, except in the making up of a happy whole.
So, what did we do on our 29th anniversary? Nothing too much out of the ordinary. It was a day filled with the minutiae of married life, that particular day in the form of children. I wouldn’t have thought that at 21 and 15 their care could fill a day as much as it did when they were, say, 12 and 6, but some days it does. After all the running around was done, we went to the movies (Moonrise Kingdom). We went to dinner at the Macaroni Grill (Christian had his wisdom teeth out last week and we needed soft food.) We picked up some Peanut Butter Panic ice cream on the way home and had it later while we played Monopoly and streamed 80s music on Pandora. It was a happy, in-between kind of anniversary.
And it’s not over yet. Our anniversary is linked by proximity to the Fourth of July. In fact, I’ve always considered the Fourth part of our anniversary “weekend.” Sometimes we do something. Sometimes we just hang out. I will make chocolate chip cookies (tradition, according to the kids) to take with us tonight. Will this Fourth of July distinguish itself from the 28 others Patrick and I have shared? Probably not. But we will be living in this in-between moment, and this Fourth will take its place alongside the others, adding itself to the impression of our lives.
I can’t remember how Patrick and I celebrated every anniversary. But, I remember warm July nights and marching music, blankets on the grass and those glow-in-the dark crackle bracelets. I remember waving flags, laughing children, cookies, and watermelon. I remember lying back and gazing into the night sky at the fireworks that always, always help us celebrate another year of being married.