Today is November 28, 2012. Which means that 20 years ago I was feeling a bit nervous.
It was a day much like this one…cold, gray, and rainy. But 20 years ago I was a ball of nerves because I stood on the precipice of the rest of my life. It was a day that would change everything and it was a day of great expectation.
Not much has changed in two decades.
Today it’s cold and gray and rainy, and I hope that the precipice of the rest of my life stretches far ahead of me, beckoning me to run into the unknown with my arms thrown open wide and my heart wide open to the possibilities.
And just like 20 years ago, I don’t stand on that edge alone. Because Mister Soandso and I are in this together.
The 20 year anniversary gift is china, which strikes my funny bone. Me? China? Ha-ha-ha. I’d just break fine china. Give me sturdy pottery or Corelle Ware and then we can talk. I suppose the thought was if a couple could make it for 20 years, they’d be able to withstand the everyday bumps and bruises well enough to keep a set of china intact. That enough holidays had passed since the happy couple registered for their china pattern that they’d have a full set by their 20th anniversary celebration. That 20 years would have allowed them the financial security so they could get the last pieces of their set on their own if need be. In many ways, it seems like the tradition of picking out a china pattern in some way represents a couple’s marriage.
Mister Soandso and I didn’t even bother with registering for china. It wasn’t that we doubted our relationship. We just aren’t the china sort of people.
We moved a lot. We got married young. Mister Artist Soandso married Little Miss Control-Freak Practical. We didn’t want dishes that got used only once or twice a year and collected dust the rest of the time. (I admit, I may have influenced this decision.)
Over time we’ve moved across country twice, created a family of five, got two master’s degrees, purchased three brand new vehicles and had even more that came to us pre-dinged. We purchased 3 homes and learned how to hang dry-wall, lay bricks, install dishwashers. We’ve lived a rich life together even when all the money we had was a single $20 bill to get us through to the next payday. We’ve held one another’s hand through chicken pox and shingles, births and deaths, good times and bad.
I imagine if we had registered for a china set, we’d still have it. And it would have much in common with our marriage, in fact.
It would have been carefully protected against times we knew were likely to put it at risk.
It would have originally be saved for the special occasions until the everyday evolved into an occasion special simply because our kids were giggling.
It would have lost a few pieces, but gained others.
It would not be broken, but probably have a few cracks from daily use and time.
Twenty years has put wrinkles on our faces and inches on our measurements, but it has also given us twenty years of reasons for those wrinkles to be laugh lines and the biggest gains made through love.
For 20 years, there’s been a cardboard box hidden in the shadows of various closets. It’s held a dress that I preserved not in hopes of passing down to a daughter some day, but because it was such a special dress. It was the first time I ever put on an article of clothing and felt beautiful.
My wedding dress story is so indicative of Mister Soandso and my marriage. I’d planned to sew my own, but wanted to touch the type of lace I planned on using. So one day we stopped by a wedding dress store. It wasn’t fancy and the ladies working there were not snooty or doubtful about us. They were genuinely happy for us and happy to help me. Of course, you can’t simply fondle expensive wedding dresses, so when I found a dress with the lace and fabric I was planning on using, I tried it on so I had a reason to look at it up close.
I walked out and Mister Soandso looked at me and smiled. “Just buy it. It’s perfect.”
And I suppose it truly was perfect. On sale because its short sleeves made it “out-of-season” and champagne instead of bridal white, it had hung in the store, overlooked. Until I put it on and felt like what a princess must feel like.
So I’ve saved it, moved it to more addresses than I can remember. And listened to Middlest tell me she wants to wear it someday.
Last weekend, Mister Soandso and I celebrated today’s anniversary with dinner and a movie. Before we packed the kids for an overnight stay with their Granny and Papa, we had them help us recreate our wedding toast photo. Middlest was agog. The dress!
I lugged the box out of the closet and Middlest huddled next to me as I opened it up. There, tucked under blue tissue paper lay my wedding dress looking the same as it did 20 years ago.
It took much more effort to zip up that dress today than 20 years ago – my ribcage spread growing three babies to full-term. But I was able to put it on and we all laughed and poured sparkling apple cider and took photos. I found my wedding earrings but had to use a “stand-in” string of pearls, and I had to clip my veil to the top of my head so it wouldn’t fall off. In our “not quite exact” recreation of the photo, we captured the perfect moment: who we are 20 years later.
We are still together, wrinkles and all, but together as strong as ever.
Our marriage, is like a china plate used every day…perhaps a few tiny cracks showing that its been used but definitely not broken.
Here is a before and after photo (which is actually an after and before, but that’s how Mister Soandso did it and I’m not about to complain because I don’t have a clue how to do this kind of magic!):
Both of us have changed our hairstyle a bit and we crinkle when we smile, but we have so many things to smile about these days. Here are a few candids, just for your viewing pleasure.