I fell in love with my one and only when we were only 17.
I had travelled across the world to spend a summer in Tunisia, a place never heard of by my middle class New England friends and family. My life was changed, and the endless vistas of the world were shown to me.
I watched a camel caravan crossing the desert from the window of my rattling old bus, for God’s sake. I had left my old world behind.
When I came home, nobody understood how profoundly my foundations had been shaken. They were happy I was home, but they didn’t really grasp where I’d gone.
But my High School classmate Paul asked me all about it. Cute, blue/green eyed, gentle Paul asked me all about it. He asked me how I felt. What I thought. What I had learned.
I tumbled into love at 17.
Paul and I went to college together. We got married at 22, on a gorgeous July day. Our families were there, our friends were there. We danced, we followed old Italian wedding traditions. People were thrown into the pool in their formal clothes. A lot of drinks were enjoyed.
We started our life together.
And here we are, on July 8th 2017. Thirty nine years after that wedding day. Still together.
There have been bumps in our road, believe me. There was a summer of separation. There were fights we weren’t sure we could survive. There was therapy, and pain and the tears of infertility. There was a move out of state for graduate school, and new friends to be made and new relationships to sort out.
We’ve had our health issues, and our mental health issues. At times we were so poor that we had to grocery shop with a calculator and stop precisely at 35 dollars spent.
One of our worst fights ever was over a sausage. Seriously.
But somehow we’ve stuck it out.
Because eventually we started our careers and we had enough money to survive.
Best of all, eventually we had children. Three beautiful and healthy children. And as Paul said to me shortly after the birth of baby number three, “Now we’re too damn tired to fight.”
He was right. And that’s part of life, too, I think. You get too tired to keep thinking about yourself the way that you do when you’re only 25. Work, mortgage, kids’ health, hockey practice, laundry, we need new tires…..All that stuff takes up the space that used to be occupied by “What do I mean to this world?” and “How can I find myself?”
Honestly, for me, I finally stopped looking for myself after my children were born. I realized as I rocked a sick baby and made a grocery list and planned my lessons for the next day….I was never lost in the first place.
Here I am.
Still married to cute, blue/green eyed, thoughtful Paul. Who still asks me what I think and how I feel. And now we have three adults to whom we gave birth and who constantly impress us.
And we have two grand-babies who have have started the whole cycle of loving insanity all over again.
Tonight is our 39th anniversary. We planned to go to a very nice upscale restaurant about an hour away to celebrate. But it’s closed for the holiday weekend. And we’re tired.
So we decided to go to a local place that we love. But…we’re tired. And I vetoed the idea of makeup and nice clothes.
We’ve decided to stay home, open a good bottle of red, and eat a pile of leftovers. We’re going to eat at the coffee table, a decadent treat we rarely allowed the kids. We plan to open our laptop and plan a fabulous trip to Germany, Austria and Italy for next summer.
To celebrate our 40th.
And you know what? Sitting on the couch in an old Tshirt and listening to the dogs snore sounds like true romance to me.
To all of the young folks in my life: romance isn’t flowers and champagne. It’s hanging in and being happy with a sunny afternoon at home.