In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams declared that the answer to life, the universe and everything was 42.
So this year, maybe Heather and I have all the answers – but we’ve got them exactly backward.
Yes, it’s official. The charming couple of Chez Rochat has logged 24 years together. Twenty-four years since a brief moment of sunshine on a rainy day, with my hair refusing to stay down as we said “I do” in a friend’s garden.
Fast forward to the present. My hair stays down perfectly now – mostly due to lighter population density. We’ve lived in four different places, only to end up just down the street from two of my childhood homes.
And after all this time, we’re still grabbing for moments of sunshine anywhere we can find them.
It’s weird to look back like this. At 24 years, a marriage has started to go beyond “Aww, congratulations!” and begun to reach “Wow, really?” You’ve gotten past all the bizarre anniversaries you used to joke about – the paper anniversary, the tin anniversary, even the yes-it-exists furniture anniversary – but you’re still a year away from reaching the ones that everyone’s heard of. You know: the silver, the golden, the diamond, the bearer bonds and so on.
I suppose that’s not all bad. After all, if you haven’t quite reached your silver anniversary yet, you can still lay claim to being crazy kids, right? Right?
Well, it was worth a try.
But it does sound strange to say “24 years of marriage” when in your head, you’re still 25. In a way, time stopped on our wedding day. I guess it does for a lot of people. Oh, the days go by with plenty to fill them. But it’s like driving across the plains on I-70; there’s no obvious clue to tell you how far you’ve gone until you happen to check the mileage.
And once you do, you wonder how the car’s kept running this long.
But maybe it’s just in how you look at it.
If you’re a Broadway fan, you probably know the song “Seasons of Love” from Rent. It famously opens with the phrase “525,600 minutes ….” Which sounds pretty gargantuan until the song reminds you that it’s just one year.
More than half a million minutes. But we’re not counting the minutes. We’re living the year.
And at the other end, we’re rarely counting the years. We’re living the days. Live enough of them, well enough, and the minutes and years take care of themselves.
I know, I know, easier said than done. Even at our first anniversary, Heather and I were joking about “When does the ‘in health’ part start?” Over the years, we’ve weathered disasters, mourned family, stacked up medical bills like a game of Jenga, and watched a leaking ceiling “rain” all over our kitchen table.
But we’re still standing. A lot of times, we’re even smiling. Sure, sometimes we’ve had to fight for every bit of sunlight. Sometimes we’ve been going on a mixture of routine and caffeine just to make it through the day. But we keep reaching for the next day. And the next. And the next.
Reach for enough of them and it can be pretty amazing. Maybe even amazing enough to rival life, the universe and everything.
Maybe when we reach 42, we’ll know the answer for sure. But for now, it’s enough to be looking for it together.
For now, this answer’s pretty fantastic. Backward or not.