The stage contains a balcony and literature’s most famous lovers. They seem considerably older than we remember them.
“Romeo, oh, Romeo; wherefore art thou Romeo?”
“Call me but love, Juliet, and I shall be new-baptized. But take this gift of my heart and I never will be Romeo.”
“Oh, Romeo! Dost thou bring me flowers? Diamonds? Silver or gold?”
“Behold, I bring thee a 5-piece dinette set with matching hutch. Canst thou give me a hand with the pickup?”
And thus did the happy dagger and the apothecary’s drugs give way to the latest special from Verona’s Furniture Warehouse.
No, I haven’t been taking cold medicine. But thinking too much about anniversaries can certainly make you feel that way.
Heather and I celebrate 17 years of marriage on July 25. It’s been an adventure with a lot of ups and downs – some of them literal, like our 1999 trip to climb the Great Sand Dunes together. We’ve survived Kansas summers, Colorado winters and even life in the newspaper industry.
We’ve also shared a love of trivia. And so one night, I got curious about what sort of anniversary this was. Everyone knows that 25 years is silver, for example, while 50 years is the golden one. But what the heck is seventeen?
I looked it up. Then looked it up again. Then a third time, to be sure.
No, the list was not prepared by Jake Jabs.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Not that we couldn’t use a new mattress and an additional bookcase, of course. But … furniture? It didn’t quite seem to be the stuff of romantic epics. It was so, well, mature. Mundane. Practical.
Where’s the fun in that?
Then I heard myself and chuckled. Sure, maybe it was tagged at random to fill out a list or because the author had a couch to replace. But In a way, there couldn’t be a more evocative way to demonstrate the difference between a wedding and a marriage.
it’s a difference that sometimes gets glossed over, especially in a country where weddings are a multi-billion dollar industry. Many of us expect our weddings to be an event: fine clothes, a beautiful setting, a band or DJ that knows more than just “Louie, Louie.”
It’s a special day and rightfully so. We try to make it a fun, meaningful celebration, something that will grace photographs and memories with a bit of enchantment.
But even the best events come to an end. The next morning, you wake to find the wedding is over – and that the long road of the marriage is still in front of you.
A good marriage is work. Not the frantic work of trying to assemble details for a moment that will come and go. This is the long haul, where the partnership has to renew itself every day and navigate sometimes difficult waters.
This is about dealing with the daily trials: vomiting dogs, leaking ceilings, mice in the living room, family in the hospital. Sometimes it’s about raising children (or caring for a ward, in our case) and seeing the odder pieces of yourself reflected right back at you. And it’s about not losing sight of each other in the middle of it, even when you’d rather just grab a nap.
There’s still room for romance, even joy. But there’s a practicality mixed with it, one that knows this is still important, even when it isn’t always fun or flashy.
One that has room for furniture as well as diamonds.
Maybe seventeen years is a good time to remember that.
Heather my love, thank you for the love and the fun and the silliness. Thank you for the times we struggled, because we struggled together. Thank you for being with me in the times of frustration and confusion and sheer exhaustion.
Somehow, we’ve done all the grown-up stuff and still love each other. I guess that means we’re doing it right.
Happy anniversary, honey.
Now, tell me again about that table you wanted.