Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Something to Celebrate

Yesterday, Jason and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. When I say celebrate, I mean we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup around the island in our kitchen with the boys. A few months ago, we sold our dining table and a few barstools and some other pieces of furniture to help fund our travels to Africa. So, last night, as we were sat around the island, with me on a small ottoman with my chin even with the dishes, I realized how amazingly happy our choices have made me these days.

This is one of only about 3 or 4 wedding photos we have of ourselves. Several moves in our marriage had me packing our wedding photos into a small suitcase that finally didn't make the cull, and I sent it to a thrift store with photos included. Of course, I didn't discover that until several months later when I went to finally put together an album of our wedding...circa 2003. I knew exactly where I'd stored them and I even knew the thrift shop that they'd ended up in and sure enough, I called the thrift store and they confirmed that they had had wedding photos but that after a few months, they threw them out, thinking it was another marriage ended badly. Who can blame them? They held on to them longer than some people hold on to marriage.

When I look at myself in this photo, I love the girl that I was in so many ways. Young, energetic, and naively optimistic. I wish I could tell her that the man she is standing with will love her for at least 19 more years so she can stop looking over her shoulder or worrying if she's enough. I wish I could tell her that when they argue, he gets quiet and it's not will save a lot of sleepless nights. I'd tell her too that she'll need to store up on that sleep because when the boys come along, there will be a period of 7 years of sleeplessness that she will not remember how to sleep through the night. I want to tell her that her enthusiasm will mature into action, her naive optimism will change to hope in the midst of reality, and that her youth will be traded for wisdom.  I miss that girl a lot but I don't necessarily want to go back to being her. I see half the woman I am today...and not just physically! : )

Thinking back to our wedding, made me appreciate so many who were there with us as we said our vows. Particularly, those who have been mentors and examples, moving ahead of us in life and showing us things we incorporated into our own lives.  Parents and relatives that provided the blueprints of long marriages - both our parents celebrated their 25th anniversaries the year that we married. Men like Stewart Green and Mark Galbraith, who taught me so much just by being around them and developing a work ethic and outlook on life to accompany it that has stood me well over the years. Women like my Grandma Bowman, who recognized the mischievousness of the man I was marrying and loved him all the more for it, having raised three naughty boys of her own.  The beautiful girls alongside me for the day as bridesmaids are still a valuable part of my life, although we all live so far apart. I am who I am because of all the input that each of these have had in my life.

In a time where so many are looking for community and strong relationships, whether they realize it or not, it's been a gift to think that if we were to get married again today, we'd have so many of the same people on the guest list...and so many, many more. I think that is the anniversary gift that I am giving myself this remember and acknowledge and enjoy the guest list. We're all on the guest list of each others' lives...for celebrations and for sorrows but also for the mundane, the day to day monotony, the small interruptions, the gaps of distances and the major derailments of life.  It's not always a party but you definitely have a standing invitation to join us.

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