Anniversaries

Time is one of those things that we can never escape. Whatever else happens in life, time is a trustworthy force, always marching on. So we use it to tell people facts about things. Some time spans are good. Some are bad. But the constant is that we can tell people just how long these things have been going on.

And anniversaries are just time. They get larger with every new celebration. They don’t tick backwards or stay still unless the original cause of the anniversary no longer exists anymore. Even still, people can count on and say ‘It would have been our X anniversary.”

It becomes interesting to me, though, that as soon as a marriage is introduced, the years spent together before that ultimate commitment become insignificant. Whether a couple was together three months or six years makes no difference as soon as they’ve been married for one day.

Since we eloped this year, we had to decide about celebrating anniversaries. The husband would not accept two anniversaries so we had to pick one. Would it be the anniversary of when we first became a couple? Or would we count the time since we exchanged vows on an unseasonably warm March day?

There’s a common choice but being who we are, we couldn’t accept a common choice just because it’s how other people do things. We’ve never gone that route and weren’t going to start.

Between March when we eloped and mid-October when our dating anniversary was, we’d thought long and hard about which one we would keep. We each thought on our own and we talked about it together. I want to say that we always knew which one we’d choose, but there was weight to this decision and we couldn’t let it go without this level of scrutinization.

When our dating anniversary rolled around, we agreed that it would be the one to stay. It was meaningful. A seven year anniversary is not small. It felt like if we chose the wedding anniversary, we’d be telling everyone that the six and a half years we spent together prior were less special. Somehow, it would be less important. The truth is that it couldn’t be farther from reality. Those six and a half years before we turned into spouses was how we learned that this is worth the commitment. It’s how I learned his quirks and he learned mine. We figured out that those quirks weren’t enough to dissuade us. We went through tough times and good times and came out the other side stronger each time.

We couldn’t bear the thought that those times wouldn’t be worthy with the myriad of times that lay ahead of us.

It was decided that October 18th will always be that anniversary day for us. It’s the one that’s gotten us to where we are now and it’s how we know we have something worth celebrating.

As time does, it will march on. As the years pass and we keep celebrating October 18th, maybe people will even forget the date that we got married. “That’s okay,” we’ll say, and eventually time will get so muddled that some might be surprised that we didn’t marry in October.

Really, we’re creating the groundwork for a future mystery. That sounds much more fun anyway.

The Prime of My Life

I’ve heard that high school is the prime of my life. I’ve also heard that it was my college years. Even further still, it’s the time between getting married and having children when it’s just a family of two. Depending on any one person’s personal experience in life, you’re likely to hear different things and the global consensus usually is that it’s behind you and your life is all downhill from where you are now.

I refuse to subscribe to this.

If high school was supposed to be the prime of my life, that was a magnificent failure. I had so much anger while growing into an adult that I have a difficult time thinking of positive things during that time frame. All of the positives then are short snippets. Sure, much of this has to do with my own perspective, but it’s still worthy. I had no belief that it was the prime of my life and I still don’t think that it was even close.

College is a bit of a different matter. I formed a lot of myself then and met my husband there so I can’t count out the experience. I’m not really even looking to count out my high school experience, either, but there’s a vast difference between counting it and considering it the prime of my life. I don’t think college was my prime. I think I grew a lot then but I wasn’t in a space where I could think that things were amazing all around.

What plagued me then was always thinking about the future. I was thinking about what’s next rather than right now and naturally that lends itself to not living fully in the moment. Not living in the moment completely removes one’s self from life at the very time that it’s happening.

Inherently, this can not be the prime of my life.

Marriage is still fresh and new and there’s a certain perspective that time can give to these things. I can’t really say that it is the prime of my life only due to marriage and I don’t want to say that it would end if I had children.

I’ve finally got it, though. I have a plan and it’s marvelous (or at the very least, it seems to be marvelous now and in the moment).

I am in the prime of my life. And I will continue to be in the prime of my life every year going forward.

Let’s take a step back for a minute to explore this. In 2010 I was obese and unhappy with how I felt about myself. I’d surely say that it wasn’t the prime of my life yet. I then embarked on my 50 pound weight loss journey. It was profound and transformative, but even then, I wasn’t in the prime of my life.

But now, in 2012, I surely am. It wasn’t only the age and it wasn’t only the weight loss. It wasn’t the 5k that I ran or getting married. It was everything. It was learning to live for today and to be happy today. Happiness stopped being a future goal and it became a now goal. I worked on August Happiness, a project dedicated to learning how to be happy despite any other circumstances. And it worked.

I learned that if I had the right mindset, I could be happy even by doing the smallest things. It might be wearing a cute outfit. It might be giving someone a compliment. It might just be listening to an audiobook on my way to work or singing my guts out to a song. It was hard. I’d never thought that finding happiness would be so hard. It was some days, especially after a long day or if I hadn’t slept.

But I found happiness within myself and I learned that I can make myself better among the worst seeming circumstances.

It has brought me into my prime both mentally and physically. I’m more focused when I run and I’m more focused in my life. I’ve achieved so much of what I wanted to as an individual that it’s completely amazing to me.

So my goal is to keep getting better and to keep paying attention to myself. In theory, I will keep improving on the prime of my life and make it last for months, years, decades, a lifetime.

The prime of my life is now because I’ve decided that it is. When is the prime of your life going to be?

We’re Alone; Together

Motorcycling was something I never expected to enjoy. Maybe more accurately, though, it wasn’t even a thought in my mind.

Then my husband got his first one about two years ago. I was definitely not interested in joining.

As he became more engrossed in his mode of transportation (he is a motorcycle commuter even in weather that would deter others), we made an investment in a BMW bike. And that’s when I started to get curious. It was easy for me to write off the previous vehicles–they weren’t very prestigious. The new BMW was interesting, complicated, and expensive. It was clear that we were going to be in possession of this type of bike for a long time. Why not give it a try?

I’ve slowly taken to riding with him. It took time but I think I would consider my interest to be in the “budding enthusiast” category now. (A massive change from my previous “no way, no how” philosophy.)

I feel like The Stig when I’m all geared up for a ride.

The wonderful thing about riding together is everything.

We are a team.

When we go through a corner, we lean together. When we stream down the open road, we’re hearing the wind rush past us together. We hate slow cars and red lights together. We even put on our gear and take it off together.

And at the very same time, we are each alone.

Aside from a tap on the shoulder or a short conversation during a stop, we don’t speak. We don’t communicate verbally and we don’t have to. Bodies can say a lot without words when we’re in constant contact and that’s all we need. We are each inside our respective heads and I quite enjoy the lack of other stimuli. There’s no radio and no conversation. We can just be silent together and wander through our thoughts independantly.

We are alone and we are together.

It is beautiful and an experience that I never expected when I previously thought of motor-sports.

Now, I’m excited for every weekend at the prospect of just going somewhere. Anywhere. Camping, or a night in a cabin on a lake, or a quick trip to Taco Bell–they’re all made many levels more interesting if we’re riding.

How and When Versus Why

As soon as I got engaged, people asked about the how and when. “Have you set a date yet?” “Do you have a reception location?” It’s all about how it will all become official and when.

But no one asked about the why. Why marriage? Why now? Why Tom? Well, I guess one would assume that the why had already been sorted out. They’d be right, of course. A proposal of marriage is something both sides have considered a great deal, especially when the relationship is five years old at the time of engagement. So with the why already determined, the how and when seem to be the final details left to be sorted out until Mr. and Mrs. are a single team in the eyes of the government.

To me, though, the how and when were the least important parts of marriage. The why is crucial. I love him. He loves me. We are a great team. We fight for each other. And, yes, we argue. We disagree. We compromise. All of that comes with two individuals forming a team. It just so happens that those are the important parts, too.

So when we got engaged and the why was announced by proxy through our commitment to marry one another, it quickly came to light that the how and when didn’t matter to me like they matter to a lot of women. I had never dreamed of a princess wedding when I was a girl. I never felt like I needed a wedding gown or that perfect day when all eyes are on me.

The more everyone asked about the how and when, the more I pushed it away. A marriage is not a theatrical performance. I learned that from my Dad, actually. There was one day after the engagement that I was chatting with my Mom about my priorities and my Dad was cleverly overhearing. I was complaining about this or that, flowers and dresses, and noting that having those things wouldn’t make a difference in the eventual marriage. That isn’t what matters. In fact, it’s dumb. And then from the corner of the room, my Dad chimed in saying:

“You’re getting married, you’re not putting on a play.”

Exactly. Exactly right.

I love my family and friends. They are very dear to me. But my marriage is not a play and I didn’t want to treat it as such. On top of that, I hate being the center of attention. A day when all eyes are on me is pretty much my worst nightmare. If I were to be a typical modern bride, there would be no escaping the spotlight when all I want is some quality time with my brand new husband.

All of this led to us eloping. We eloped on March 23rd at Waltham City Hall and it was an 80 degree day. The weather was strange but the day was perfect. It was short, sweet, and all eyes were on me. It just turned out that all eyes were on him, too. Three pairs of eyes saw our union come to pass: Waltham City Clerk, husband, and wife. While my eyes were on him, his were on me, and it was perfect.

Eloping wasn’t an effort to cut people out. Eloping, for us, was a way of staying true to who we are. We don’t make a big deal about milestones in our relationship so this was no different. A marriage after six and a half years of prior relationship becomes a milestone just like finishing college and moving out on our own were. We didn’t get a massive party for either prior event so we wanted to get married in a way that was meaningful for us.

And we succeeded.