“Hey!” my wife said seated at the kitchen table paying some bills, “Today is 10/21/21! That’s a cool date.”
“No,” I replied, “it’s actually 10/ 28.”
We both paused a moment wondering why that date sounded familiar. And then at the same moment exclaimed, “It’s our anniversary!”
Well, after 42 years and diminishing memories, it’s understandable we might both forget. If we make it that long, I can imagine making a big deal of the 50th, but after a moment’s pause and a brief hug, we both went back to our separate chores. We have had some unusual experiences as a couple— working together for over four decades at the same school, traveling together to some 40 countries around the world, her studying art and me studying music. And we’ve had the common experience of raising kids, caring for parents, visiting the grandkids, creating some common community with neighbors, colleagues, siblings. We have season passes to the usual roller-coaster of relationship, the extraordinary expectation that you wake up each morning (some 15,000 mornings, to be exact) with
champagne bubbles of love matched by the reality of sometimes looking over at your spouse and thinking, “Oh, you’re still here?”
So here we are, both retired and still quasi-pandemic-sheltered, her at the back of the house, me at the front, each pursuing our separate interests. We come together for lunch and watch the previous night’s Stephen Colbert and I go off to walk one direction out in the world and her often another, though once or twice a week we’ll walk together. We both think about dinner and somehow balance that off nicely, not officially taking turns cooking with a given schedule, but it tends to work out that way. And then we settle in for the next chapter of whichever night TV series we’re watching (at the moment, Deadwind.) I do the shopping, she does the laundry— after all these years, we’ve figured out a good division of labor and it works. The geometry of our relationship is more compatible parallel lines and intersecting circles than intensive braided ropes and I think we’ve come to accept that it’s just the way we work, even if it doesn’t follow the plot of the romance novels.
And so on our 42nd anniversary (47 counting the five years we lived together before marriage), we’ve spent the morning at opposite ends of the house and now it’s time for lunch. Maybe this afternoon we’ll walk together and treat ourselves to an ice cream. No big fireworks, but a pleasant sunny day passed together.