Saturday, May 14, 2011

Was 1982 REALLY 29 Years Ago?

I was flipping through the channels this afternoon and happened upon the movie Caddyshack.  Justin and I were commenting on one of the actors and how he had been a character on Roseanne and how the movie had been made in 1980.  All of a sudden, I looked at my husband and realized that I have known him for 29 years.  Yep, 29 years.  Wow.

23 years ago today, we celebrated our marriage by having a wedding.  We had secretly eloped a month before the wedding.  We both went to work on the morning of April 15, 1988 and then at noon, we met up and drove over to the church.  It was me, Justin, the minister, and the janitor.  We were so anxious to get married that we simply couldn't wait until the May 14th wedding date.  I let my mom in on the secret and I know she was disappointed, seeing as how I was her only daughter and my parents had been helping me plan an elaborate wedding.  It wasn't that I didn't want the wedding.  I just couldn't wait to be married to Justin.  I like to think he felt the same way.

So we went off to the church.  I didn't even change my clothes from work.  We got married with the janitor as a witness and drove down to Virginia Beach for the weekend.  We didn't even get a picture from the day we got married "for real."  What was I thinking?

A month later, on May 14th, we did the big wedding with all the guests and the formal wear and the flowers and the reception.  We did it up the right way.

I look at those big sleeves and think what the heck was I thinking?  But at the time, I thought the dress was absolutely beautiful and I felt like a princess.  Sure, I was a princess with 80's hair and very large glasses, but doesn't every woman feel beautiful when she is in the midst of a celebration of her marriage?  There just aren't enough occasions to wear a dress that drapes you in beautiful white fabric, are there?

It took us six years from the day we met (July 22, 1982) to the day we got married (April 15, 1988) and then another month to the big day on May 14th.  In one more year, I will have been married as long as I have been single.  Wow.

I am still not sorry that we eloped.  Having that incredibly special moment that was just for the two of us was a special thing.  But I am not sorry we had our big day either.  I think both were important.

A lot of stuff happened between the day we met at Freshman orientation day at Mary Washington College (it was a college, not a university then) and the day we tied the knot in 1988.  We lost touch and got back in touch and neither one of us really knew what to do with the fact that we were 18 and had pretty much found the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with.  At 18, forever is an overwhelming thought.  So I dropped out of school, worked, came back for another semester, dropped out again.  Justin married his high school girlfriend after the second time I left school and was pretty miserable.  I got engaged to someone else and was terribly miserable.  Neither of those relationships was meant to be because we already knew, somewhere in our hearts, that we weren't meant to be with those people. 

Justin never left my mind and the day he found me after three years of no contact will forever stick in my mind.  He walked up the driveway of my parents' house on a day when I would normally have been on campus at George Mason, but happened to be doing laundry at home.  I looked out the window, saw him walking up the walk, and knew immediately that my fiance was history. 

I think about how long ago that was and it's just hard to believe, because really, it seems like it was just yesterday.  I can't believe I've known this man for 29 years and there are still times that he will tell a story about himself that I don't already know.  Even after all this time, we are still getting to know each other.

We both forgot that today was the anniversary of our "wedding day."  Neither one of us think of May 14th as the day we got married, because we had already, in truth, been married for a month at that point and I will forever think of April 15th as our anniversary.  But there is never a May 14th that comes and goes that I don't think of great fondness of my big day and my white dress and how handsome my 24 year old husband was.

I must be getting mushy in my old age.  It seems like everything reminds me of something from when we first got together.  23 years of marriage makes for a lot of adjusting and can get comfortable.  I like to remember that time when Justin made me breathless when I thought about him.  And sometimes, even 29 years after I met him, I still get that little shiver when I look at him and know that this was the person I was meant to be with for the rest of my life.

Justin once told me that he had driven by an old couple sitting on a porch swing together holding hands and that he hoped that that would be us one day.  Now, we're getting to be that old couple slowly but surely.  We don't have a porch swing yet, but I have dreams.  Of being that old couple that still hold hands and young people think are "sweet" in a kind of condescending way.

I want to be that couple.  That's what I want to be when I grow up.

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