This is not how I expected to be celebrating my anniversary.
This is a significant one — ten years, a full decade of my life spent with my wife. We’d been talking, around the time of our ninth anniversary, of doing something big this year. Our wedding was anticlimactic (we had a small gathering in a hall where the air conditioning died several days earlier, in the middle of a heat wave, and people left — partially for their own safety — after about 3.5 hours), but the social aspects of it was lovely. We both enjoyed getting together with friends we rarely saw in the days before, congregating in hotel rooms afterward, sharing pictures online in the weeks that followed. We had thought that maybe, this year, we could do a vow renewal, or plan another little-big party (our wedding was only 40 guests, why would this be any bigger?) to celebrate the milestone.
Well. We all know the end of this story.
I am less upset than I think society thinks I should be. I’m frustrated that one of the few days of the year that are truly “ours” is being spent at home in mundaniety, but overall, I’ve made me peace with the situation. Let eleven be out big year instead — it would be perfectly on brand with our affinity for palindromes.
When I met my wife, Kira, she was 21 and I was 25; I don’t know why people felt like that was such a big deal at the time, but I had a number of friends joking about it, asking if she was old enough to drink, checking in about if she knew milestone shows from our youth. My parents warned me early on — my mother in particular, who had already earned quite a reputation in the way of wanting to control literally all of our interpersonal relationships — that someone “her age” wouldn’t be ready to settle down and was going to “use me” (in other words, all she would want was sex and all I would want was marriage and babies. Because those are desires that are set in stone and dictated by strict age guidelines, I guess).
The reality was, we were both incredibly young, in different ways. I had a job on a career path; she was working retail. I was just starting to gain my independence and was subleting a place from my parents; she had left home at 16 and never really gone back. I was on the path through graduate school, she had taken an extra year to complete all her high school credits. She had lived in dozens of cities in nearly a half dozen states, and I had never left my hometown. She had had two serious girlfriends before me; I was brand new to the dating scene. We were definitely going at different paces in some ways, but neither of us were ever really “beyond” the other; rather, we met each other where we were, and helped each other along. What was familiar territory for me was sometimes a mystery for her and vice-versa; we guided each other across terrain where we were sure-footed, to make sure the other didn’t slip.
We moved in together in September of 2009, while Kira was recovering from pertussis; in late October of that year, she surreptitiously told my mother she was going to propose, and took her ring shopping, so my mother could help pick out something to my tastes. On our eightteen month anniversary, in the restaurant where we had our first dinner date, she proposed.
Aside from family, Kira has been in my life longer and more consistently than anybody else (I have friendships that predate our relationship, but with long stretches of radio silence because life got complicated and time has a way of escaping us). We continue balancing each other out, being comforting when the other is sad, quiet when the other needs to vent, supportive when the other is trying something new. She has never stopped encouraging me in any and all of my silly, self-indulgent endeavors (how many times did she go on a grocery run and come back with chocolates, paint palates, and canvases for me??), and continues to be patient in reassuring me that things will be okay, despite, often, all evidence to the contrary.
I am incredibly lucky to have met her, and to continue to have her in my life.
Here’s to the next ten.