This week my husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary, which, especially now that I see it in black and white on my screen, is a something I’m having a hard time believing can possibly be true.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that we’re still together 26 years later that’s making it hard to grasp, but, quite simply, that we’re old enough to have a 26th wedding anniversary.
Google says the 26th anniversary is frequently “the year of adjustment,” which I think is pretty astute of Google, because in two short months my husband I will officially become empty nesters.
Oh, hell yes.
The good news is we still like each other.
Recently, when I was scouring the office cabinets for baby photos of my graduating daughter (because as many of you know, I’m into self sabotage) I came across a couple of photo boxes from the early 90s — the years before and right after we got married.
And as I looked at them, I had so many things I wanted to tell those babies who were ready to take on the world.
Were “Maybe bend your cap brim a bit, son” and “Never stop having the confidence to rock a complete chambray outfit with matching Keds” two of them? Sure, but more than that, I wanted to sit them down and let them know what they were in for.
I wanted to give them a glimpse into the crystal ball that, even then, was clouding up with beautiful images and events that were coming their way.
I needed to tell them things I knew they’d love to know, but talking to the photos seemed odd, even for me.
So, as I often do, I wrote a letter.
Congratulations! And yes, that just really happened.
You. Are. Married.
Not that either one of you are surprised.
Well, actually, now that I think about it, if either one of you read this letter five years ago in June of ’88, mere months after the first disastrous dating attempt and right before you gave it another go, you both would probably have been hella shocked.
Hella, by the way, is a word that means “extremely” and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002, a year that I am sorry to report still did not have flying cars but did, however, have tiny phones that you could type messages to each other on…and an obvious departure from the English language.
But from about March of ’89 to now, you’ve been each other’s other half. The one the other couldn’t imagine being without.
And really, if you haven’t exactly expected this day to come to fruition since then, you haven’t really not expected it either.
It, like so many other events that have led up to today, just naturally, easily, happened.
And I’m here from the future to let you both know something wonderful: That ease, that naturalness?
It doesn’t stop.
So yes, 26 years have gone by.
I know, it’s shocking. It’s astonishing. It’s unbelievable.
But you’re doing great.
You look pretty damn good (I mean, for 50 year olds), and even better? You’re both healthy.
Before you can ask the other questions I know are burning your brains right now, let me just beat you to it. You might want to grab a drink right now, and since neither one of you drink wine yet (we’ll get to that), grab a vodka tonic and a beer.
• No, you will never win the lottery. At least the kind with a monetary prize. (Yet.)
• But speaking of winning lotteries, you’ll have kids. Two of them. And they will be your everything. Expect the first one in a little over two years, and the second one will come five and half years after that. I’m not going to tell you the reason you’ll wait so long in between — which is the same reason you’ll only have two — because it will just needlessly scare you, but rest assured everything will be okay and they’ll both be strong and remarkable, and you will endure all the scary stuff that is thrown at you, together.
Oh, and I know you’re wondering if they’re boys or girls, but I’m not going to tell you. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of the hundreds of hours you’ll spend on name lists.
And by you I mean one of you.
• You won’t live in Arizona forever. Settle down, you also won’t be going to Colorado or Northern California. At least not in the next 26 years (I’m not giving up hope yet, though). No, you’ll live most of your life and raise your family in — wait for it — MINNESOTA.
I’ll wait for you to stop crying.
It’s okay. You’ll eventually just turn your soul over to the harsh and cruel winters but it will thaw in the summers when you will create amazing family memories at a little lake, which will be Minnesota’s saving grace. Your kids will graduate high school and move out and on, but as of 26 years from now you’ll still be stuck there, waiting (im)patiently for your own new adventures to begin that will take you somewhere new and exciting.
• You will both lose most of the luscious hair you currently have; one of you quite a bit more than the other. I’ll let you place your bets on who, but please, both of you, just take a moment to run your fingers through your thick locks right now for me while I close my eyes and shed a few tears in memoriam.
• In 26 years neither one of you will be in the same career you are right now.
One of you will become an astronaut and the other will be a top rated chef.
But those degrees in Elementary Education and Accounting? Not in use.
I’ll just leave that there and let you try to figure out what it is you both end up doing 26 years from now, mostly because I wouldn’t be upset if that little nugget of information prompts you to change the path entirely. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for either one of you to make a brave and bold decision at about age 30 to just do something you really want to do.
The good news? At age 50 (I know, I know, it’s still hard to believe even when it actually happens) both of you are deeply involved in personal, creative outlets that will hopefully turn into something bigger, and while it would’ve been nice if you’d have realized those passions 20 years ago, you will realize it’s not too late to create some new paths and dreams, and work to (hopefully) realize them.
• You never got a dog, so you can stop spending hours thinking of names for one.
• 26 years from now you’ll still be each other’s other half. You’ll still want to hang out together more than anyone else. The experiences — good and bad — that you’ll face together will make you realize so much more than you do today how important your patience, love, and respect are to each other.
• You’re going to face a few enormously painful things, some of them soon, some of them sprinkled over the course of the next 26 years. Some are heartbreakingly personal, and some are just “questioning big decision” kinds of things (mostly in hindsight, as is usually the case). What I want you to know is this: you will get through them, together.
• You’ll never be able to fit into that wedding dress or those tux pants again, but you’ll enjoy the hell out of countless pizzas over the next 26 years.
• The family you will create will be your biggest source of pride, joy, and accomplishment. You’ll kind of kick ass at the whole parenting thing. You will raise your children with all that patience, love, and respect you show each other, and it will pay off. They will be amazing adults who will have the confidence and self-worth to boldly chase their own dreams. Well done!
• You will drink hundreds of bottles of wine together over the next 26 years, and guess what? Not one of them will be Boone’s Farm.
I want to tell you one more thing and then I’ll let you get to that honeymoon I know you’re dying to get to (WINK) ~
I still can’t pinpoint was it was that drew you to each other and kept you together back in 1988 (honestly, I can’t), but I do know that whatever it was is still very much present, 26 years later. You still laugh together until you cry, can still sit comfortably together without saying a word, are still each other’s biggest fans yet can still annoy the hell out of each other with various little tendencies and bad habits (some the same as they were back then, and — spoiler alert! — some new ones), and still look forward to seeing each other every.single.day.
And the best part is? Your story is still unfolding.
So buckle up, you crazy kids.
You’ve got quite a ride ahead of you.