40 YEARS and COUNTING
26 June 2005
It was only yesterday when I was climbing aboard that fire engine across the street from my apartment, decked out in my wedding attire, so that the photographer could take a photo of me and the bridal party hanging onto the side of a fire truck.
Can it really have been forty years?
Forty years. My god. I remember when reaching one's 40th birthday was a huge deal--now we've been married that long.
I told the tale of our actual wedding last year. What about the 40 years since that date? If you're going to survive 40 years of marriage, it helps to marry someone with whom you can laugh. Someone who thinks Puff the Magic Dragon is a swell song to be "our song" (because it was the first song that came on the radio after we realized we didn't have "a song"), someone who enjoys telling people that we dated to Stan Freberg, someone who will put up with all of your idiosyncrasies.
I'm not sure if that describes me or Walt or both of us.
When you live with someone for 40 years, you begin to speak in in-jokes, in your own personal code, where explanations aren't necessary because you share the same background.
With who else (other than your children) can you speak in dialog from every play you've ever seen...and admit that you've lost the ability to find original material any more.
Who else will snicker with you about "63" or "fire hose"?
Who else will laugh with you when you toss out lines like "rumble, rumble, rumble...mutiny, mutiny, mutiny" in your journal and get an e-mail back from someone who recognized the reference to Stan Freberg?
Who else will let you drag him to every possible Steve Schalchlin appearance without (much) complaint? Who else would sit through every Judy Garland or television appearance ever put on video?
Who else will sigh and say "do I have a choice?" when I "ask" if I can take a few days or weeks to go off on another "Bunbury" (and how many would even understand the term?)
Who else would have put up with my "casual-to-nonexistent" housekeeping, eaten all of my gastronomic experiments, good and not so good?
Who else would have indulged me all of my flights of fancy, from cake decorating to Chinese cooking, to working for the Lamplighters, to driving AIDS clients, to taking in stray puppies or stray Brasilians?
We drove through our old neighborhood today, the first house we bought, and reminisced about the people we knew there back in the late 1960s and remarked about how much the trees had grown and how much more "settled" the neighborhood looks now.
I still remember fondly Walt's excitement the day we brought Jeri home, the way he'd decorated the house with pink roses and had a recording of music box music playing as I carried her up the stairs.
I still remember the way we clung to each other on those terrible, terrible days following Paul's and David's deaths.
Sometimes after 40 years, you feel you've said it all. You sit at a dinner table in silence, no need for conversation because you both know where you are, what you're doing, where you've come from, and how you feel about things.
You do things automatically because you've been doing them for 40 years and there is a certain comfort in not having to wonder how best to handle things.
You know each other's foibles and you accept them because you've learned to live with them after all these years.
You look back on 40 years and you see how far you've come, what good friends you still are, and that you still love one another.
And that's not such a bad thing to discover, 40 years down the road.
Happy anniversary, Dear. Here's to another 40 years.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(and I'm betting that after 40 years, Walt will get this too!)