It's a Tuesday evening and my husband and I are at The Paris Bistro on 15th Avenue to celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary. We're seated on the patio, next to a trio of musicians called St. Boheme playing songs from the film Amelie. I glance at my husband across the table and muse on the clever way time has of appearing both short and long at once. I have been married forever, and yet it feels like just yesterday that we were dressed in white and ushered into the Celestial Room of the Salt Lake Temple while we waited for our guests to filter into the sealing room. It feels like just yesterday, and yet it couldn't have been, because I was just three weeks past 20 and he was only 22 and we were both slender and slight and terribly naive. Certainly, we were nervous about the vows we were about to make, but we experienced a hushed moment of peace as we sat side by side, taking in the splendor of a room echoing the promise of paradise.
The story of Adam and Eve has a certain resonance with me, although the symbolism was doubtless lost on me on my wedding day. It is a wonder to me that a story that has been played out countless times throughout history can, for me, feel intensely novel. Still, becoming one flesh is sometimes a painful process. "Committed" can have certain unpleasant connotations. As I look at my husband on the eve of our anniversary, my mind floods with memories of our marriage - some good, some bad. I catch hold of one image in particular, a Sunday morning from the year we spent in London. We were sitting at the table in our studio apartment, listening to REM's "Nightswimming" on the laptop, our first child swimming in my belly. I rested my bare feet on my husband's lap as I skimmed through the pages of the Guardian. Pale sunlight streamed through the open window. We were in the midst of a bustling metropolis, and yet, within the thin, tiny walls of our apartment, we might as well have been in our own world.
"Do you ever wonder," my husband asks, "what you would have done if, you know..."
His voice trails off, but I can fill in the blank easily enough. Do I ever wonder what my life would have been like if we hadn't married that hot August day twelve years ago? Yes, I have wondered, and the answer comes easily enough.
"I'd work at a publishing house in New York," I say. "Or maybe L.A., Sydney."
"I'd sell flip-flops on the beach in Hawaii." My husband's answer is not surprising. We've discussed this before. After twelve years, we've discussed a lot of things.
We fall silent, listening to the otherworldly sound of the accordion. The musician has thick, black-rimmed glasses, a full beard, and a thin white shirt unbuttoned to his mid-chest. He is not your typical Utahn. I, however, am. There is nothing unexpected about the life I've chosen. Marriage. Motherhood. Mortgage. Minivan. There is nothing glamorous or astonishing about my life --- a fact I have to admit I've resented at times.
"Are you sorry?" My husband asks, seemingly reading my mind.
I think about all that I've experienced the past twelve years. I think about that English morning, unremarkable except for its immediate, enviable intimacy. No, mine is not the road less traveled by. But I have promises to keep, promises I made at twenty years old, when I was hardly more than a child. Promises that, if kept, may somehow, miraculously, lead me to heaven's door.
My husband graces me with a familiar smile, and we retreat into our own private Eden.