Today marks the 29th wedding anniversary of David and me. We got married at Holy Comforter Church in Vienna, Virginia at 10:00 in the morning surrounded by our immediate families, two close friends and the family I had just finished being a nanny for. It was a beautiful sun drenched morning with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, the snow that prevented my grandparents from driving up from Arkansas to attend our special day. It didn’t really matter to me because when I woke up on the Big Day, all I could think about was getting married and how I couldn't wait to see David and begin my life with him.
And I really do think that my life began that morning, that I had just been playing at living up until that day. We didn’t take a honeymoon, choosing instead to stay and visit with our families that had traveled from Louisiana, Texas, Kansas and California (we were flung far and wide those days!). We did take a little trip to the National Zoo the next day, getting to see the lions and tigers and bears, oh my!, but after the weekend was over, it was back to working at the daycare center for me where I looked after a roomful of two-year-olds and the shipping company for David where he oversaw the arrivals and departures of various cable equipment.
That first year was a year of firsts for us: our first compromise over a new couch ( I wanted a blue and white couch, he wanted a heavy wood-trimmed couch. We agreed upon a blue couch with a light wood trim around the base.); we had our first Christmas and New Year’s Eve together (we shook a leftover bottle of champagne from our wedding and popped the cork off our apartment balcony, where it promptly flew and hit the window of the apartment across from ours). We had our first of many (only we didn’t know it at the time) prolonged absences from each other when David left for Brunswick, Georgia for two months to undergo training to become a federal agent; two years later, he left for Army bootcamp, beginning our four year stint with the Army and when we had Meghan. He left the Army, going to work for the CIA, working there until our move to Arkansas in 2005, where he now works at Walmart’s home office. During those CIA years and all those overseas trips and long work days, we worked hard on our marriage with me holding down the home front and raising two kids while David worked. When he was “Home Home”, he was home. I kept our schedule wide open and empty so that we could truly be a family, going to the Manassas Battlefields to hike, to have family wrestling matches in our living room, to tell stories to the kids and tuck them in bed together. Our life was pretty much a catch can type of life, but somehow we managed to make it work.
Twenty-nine years later, we’re beginning a different kind of marriage, one without kids being prevalent, one where it’s going to be just the two of us again. We aren't doing anything special today: he’s out on the couch watching football games with Meghan, their Sunday tradition since she was in high school. I’m catching up on computer work, getting ready to make chocolate chip cookies. Today is just a normal day.
But last night, David and I watched the sunset from where he and Joey like to go hiking. From the gravel road, you can look out west and see for miles across the Arkansas countryside. You can see cow pastures dotted with shiny ponds and the occasional roof top of farm houses. As we stood watching the sun sink lower and lower, we could hear an owl hooting in the trees to the right of us and watch little bats begin their night time feasting. There wasn’t another sound, except for the occasional gust of wind blowing through the trees. We spoke in low voices until the sun sank far beneath the horizon. As we walked back to the car holding hands, I thought to myself, “This is what marriage is, watching sunsets and holding hands. It’s sticking together no matter how hard Life throws itself at you. It’s peace and grace and forgiveness. It’s starting over and over and over every morning. It’s being with your very best friend for the rest of your life. This is what marriage is. This is home.”