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.
This could have been about me. I married my high school sweetheart at 20. He was 22.ReplyDelete
I relate to this so thoroughly reading it made me ache all over. But nothing beats eternity, right? :)
Let's hope so :)Delete
I do think there is something to getting married young - you have the advantage of forming much of the same habits and opinions together...
My sisters both married at 20. One is your age. The other a little older. My road, though it seemed quite similar to yours at first, has not been so straight. I am 38, now, married ten years this past May. It has been a good ten years.ReplyDelete
Congratulations, dear Kim, on the occasion of your 12th anniversary. This, however brief, is a beautiful chronicle of a dozen years well-lived. But I guess I say this filling in the blanks with other pieces of yours I have read. The missing goldfish, the older gentleman at the hamburger place, the smooth stones that make up the path to Heaven's door.
Thank you for sharing this. Your posts are always worth waiting for.
A few years ago I came across a quote attributed to Tolstoy that goes "Tragedy is a story; happiness an allegory."Delete
Congratulations to you, too, on reaching the decade milestone :) When I put 2 and 2 together and figured out that one of your frequent commenters was your husband, it made me smile. You definitely have a wonderful support in him...
My goodness, you're a terrific writer. I sometimes hate to visit your blog--like I sometimes hate to read Cormac McCarthy novels. It makes me want to hide my head in shame.ReplyDelete
Thank you, though, for such high praise. I'm pretty sure it's not warranted.
And I'm waiting (not so patiently) for more from Miami Vice.
This is gorgeous writing. I got married at 21, my husband was 23, so your story resonates with me, too. :) Congratulations on your 12th anniversary! I think "committed" is a beautiful word. :)ReplyDelete
It can be, can't it?Delete
such a sweet story and you tell it so well!ReplyDelete
Ohhhhh... this is precious...ReplyDelete
The way you told the story was so fabulous...
My anniversary is on Monday, and it'll be our ten year, so I feel like I'm right with you with thoughts and everything. I was married in the same place too, neighbor! ;) And thanks for your kind comment on my blog. I really loved that quote ;)
I love this Kim :) So lovely and sincere. I could really feel the moment with you. Congrats on 12 years. August is the best month to get married :)ReplyDelete
I have to echo Amanda - this is gorgeous! I do feel like a different person from before I got married. There's nothing like being able to share things in that way with someone, if that makes sense?ReplyDelete
This is so beautiful. My hubby and I have talked about this. He would probably be touring the country with a band and have no kids or responsibilities. Living out of a van. (Down by the river.) I have a feeling I wouldn't be writing. Weird to think but it's true. I don't know if I would have been brave enough to try without him. So, I guess it's good we married. ;0)ReplyDelete
What a beautiful post. I married later, almost 30. It's great to see other relationships lasting.ReplyDelete
I am crying... not sure why... Loved this post!ReplyDelete