Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My love, 30 years on

Thirty years ago today, at 4:40 in the afternoon, Mr D and I were walking down the aisle. Or rather, I was walking down the aisle, because he was already there, waiting, at the front of the church. This was to be one of the few times in our lives together that he would be on time, and I would be late.

I was primping in the back, the last minute fluffing up of a terribly ill-advised perm. The pianist was playing, transitioning into the music that was to be my entrance, when suddenly Max, the minister, bustled through the double doors and said, “Just hang on a few minutes. Go back, go back! We’ll have this all sorted out in a second or two.” My heart sank. Was this going to be cinematic-style tragedy? The bride left sobbing, groomless, in the narthex of the church as the husband-to-be skittered off through a side door and ran away for parts unknown? I retreated to the bride’s room, and now worried, stared at myself in the mirror and wondered, “Was it the perm, after all?” And then I felt sorry for myself for a few minutes, as I imagined the sorrow and the embarrassment I’d feel soon enough, as a jilted bride in this day and age, for God’s sake.

Because who even was getting married in 1979? No one, that’s who. Everyone at Wellesley was going off to be a trainee at Citibank or Morgan Stanley, or continuing on to grad school at the London School of Economics, or learning the ropes as an intern at Sotheby’s or Christie's, or doing some other highly important thing. Getting married was the idiot’s move.

“What are you doing after college?” began a conversation in Tower Court’s dining hall.

“Oh, I’m getting married. In September,” I answered.

“Ummmm. Yeah. But what are you going to do?”

Oops. No good follow-up answer for that question. Indeed, what was I going to do? Vacuum? Dust? Work at minimum wage out there in the wilds of Oregon, as a married person? Any answers were worryingly vague.

And now, on the very wedding day, even this lame plan of mine looked to be scotched. Because suddenly it appeared I wasn’t going to have the chance to walk down the aisle at all. Oh, woe!

The music began again, and someone popped a head in and said, “Okay, it’s time!”

My Dad walked me down the aisle, and there was Mr D waiting for me. Pleasant surprise! We were married on that hot September afternoon thirty years ago, fumbling with rings and getting our words wrong, and soon after, we were out into the church garden for pictures and into the reception hall for a light dinner buffet.

“What was that all about?” I asked my sister later.

“What?” said Martha.

“The hold-up? At the beginning. The reason we didn’t begin at 4:30?”

“Oh thaaaaaat. Well, there were lots of bats flying around in the eaves,” said Martha.

My dad laughed, “Yes, and Harlan said, 'Oh, you know my brother Lee – he couldn’t afford white doves, so they made do with bats instead. I’m pretty sure it’s good luck though.'”

And yeah, it probably has been good luck. We’re still married, and happily so. I feel incredibly lucky, especially after almost pitching it all in a couple of different times. I must say, it’s mostly down to him, to my dear husband. He said when we married, “I don’t believe in divorce.”

There’s something to be said for that kind of dogged persistence and single-mindedness. It’s partly what’s necessary, to keep a partnership going, because there’s always going to be one person who’s a little less in love, a little more cranky, quite a lot more angry, a helluva lot more tired. The roles and the moods shift back and forth – sometimes one person’s sick of the whole thing, sometimes the other one has had quite enough for today, thank you very much. Yet the certainty that it’s permanent means that you get up the next morning thinking about compromise, and adapting a little bit all over again.

And of course we remember that we did get married for love, and not because we had to, or because we had no better ideas for what to do that Saturday afternoon. We’ve sailed through the good parts, and slogged through some really grim bits, but underneath it all there’s been the surety that it was a plan for the long-term: the very very very long-term. Until death do us part.

Happy 30th Anniversary to us! Hurrah, hurrah, and hip hip hooray!


Violet said...


And, though it would take a dissertation of my own to explain exactly why, thank you. I needed to read this today.

Vic said...

Happy Anniversary! (I loved this post, especially the bats, and "the grim bits".)

I can't imagine going from Tower Court to backwoodsy Oregon (I know about that, and that's a big culture change, especially then. :)

Mr London Street said...

I liked this an awful lot. But you don't look anywhere near old enough to have been married 30 years.

This effortless gift with compliments is my only hope of making it to 30 years myself.

sas said...

what Mr LS said :)

@eloh said...

I really like this post a lot. Someone who KNOWS how really blessed they are.

I hope and pray you have 30 more.

ladytruth said...

This is being realistically in love with someone after 30 years. And that is nice to see and read about :) May the next 30 years be less cranky, filled with more patience, less thoughts of committing murder and more of kissing in the rain; may you just be still as happy as you obviously still are thirty years after the "I do."

Madame DeFarge said...

Happy anniversary and no, you don't look old enough to have been married that long. I like the not believing in divorce. It makes life interesting sometimes, but I think it's an admirable attitude.

Baglady said...

Congratulations - that's such a batiful story! :)

SkylersDad said...

Congrats and Happy Anniversary!

Suzy said...

Happy Anniversary kiddos...

mysterg said...

Happy Anniversary! 30 years would be enough to send me bats!

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

Finally, someone else who doesn't believe marriage is only something you do when you can't find anyone better. I love being married and hope like hell that I can make it to thirty as well. Only 21 years to go! Congratulations.

LadyFi said...

Thirty years! You must have married when you were a toddler then... you look so young.

Hope you had a great day.

And now I know why you are so batty.. ;-)

Pochyemu said...

I love this. Happy (belated) anniversary!

expateek said...

Thanks guys! You're awesome! For those who are curious, I married at the tender age of 21, which now seems like madness. Good heavens, we always think we're so old and so clever, don't we?

As to Mr D, he's lucky he survived it in one piece. I had some seriously murderous thoughts around years 26-27 of the relationship. Fortunately I didn't carry them out, as he didn't have life insurance at the time. Oh wait, that's not what I was supposed to say, is it?

pinolona said...

congratulations and happy anniversary!!!
Have a great time in England! And sorry about the weather. Let me know what Grant and Cutler looks like offline. :)

Anonymous said...

...and Happy Anniversary to you both from me too.

Iota said...


And your life hasn't been filled with vacuuming and dusting after all!

Mrs. G. said...

Thirty years? I bow to you and Mr. D. Bravo!!