Earlier this week my husband and I reached a milestone wedding anniversary, 25 years. We went out to dinner to celebrate. I brought a small blank notebook with me and as we waited for our food and as we ate, we took turns writing down little things that popped into our minds about our life together, starting with early marriage. Interestingly, our thoughts both seemed to jump in a couple of months into the marriage with a cross-country move we had made (Minnesota to Florida) so that my husband could attend graduate school. I suppose that makes sense as it was a more genuine marker of starting our own distinct life together than the proverbial "carried-over-the-threshold" post-honeymoon moment.
We had our dinner over the course of about three hours and only barely scratched the surface of the first three years. Lest it sound like we were engaged in nonstop earnest documentation during our celebratory dinner, let me put your mind at ease. There was much laughing and expanding verbally on each of the things we recorded. We were truly celebrating.
My husband wrote the first words. On page one of the notebook he wrote, "Amazing Things." Then underneath that he wrote, "Gratefulness." We then started our list. If someone were to look over our shoulders at the things we were writing down, however, I'm quite sure they wouldn't have felt the memories qualified as "amazing things." There was nothing grand noted by which any stranger would have been impressed.
As evidence, here are some of things we wrote down:
- A "pet" lizard who lived in the Norwegian pine we kept on our outside patio
- Our first vacation together--a road trip around the coast of Florida during which we smuggled a crock pot into our hotel rooms to make some meals and split cheese danishes at McDonald's so that our meager money would stretch further
- Elation at being first in line to lease a tiny upper duplex with a view in a coveted "cool" neighborhood, with continued elation at our good fortune as we lived there despite a crazy landlord, mice, and bats in the walls
- Walking for the first time into the church that we would later join and knowing immediately that this was where we should be
- Bravely, and naively, buying our first house without the assistance of a realtor
- Literally leaping across the empty living room floor of that first house delighted with how spacious that 800 sq. foot total foundation size felt
- The birth of our first child. (The only thing on this list that truly qualifies as amazing in every sense of the word)
- My mother coming from out of state to help with the new baby. She cooked lots of great meals, walking across the street to grocery shop, as well as on multiple afternoons, to buy us hamburgers and milkshakes at the best hamburger/milkshake place in town
- Cloth diapers
- Walks with baby seated in a collapsable "umbrella" stroller
Not everything on the list was a memory of a light-hearted pleasant experience, however. There was a note about a difficult internship period, a long job search, a car that required starting at three-hour intervals all throughout winter nights, and so on. Real life happens.
As I mentioned, we only scratched the surface of the first three years, yet it filled many pages. We'll keep the notebook around, however, and keep adding what pops into our minds. After all, we didn't even get to the birth of child number two yet (the second truly amazing thing in every sense of the word). Many more things to record. I'd very much like to see the pages filled and then have the notebook close (maybe on our 50th anniversary?) as it began: "Amazing things. Gratefulness."