The next 30 years together
A grand gesture for a big wedding anniversary
I’m back online after a good, long social media break. It began as Rael and I embarked on a grand nostalgia tour for our 30th wedding anniversary, but then my vacation from the Internet just kept going. Being offline is so calming and I figured, what’s the rush to get back?
Have you ever taken an extended social media break? It’s like putting your life on airplane mode. Everything feels brighter and quieter and more spacious and immediate. I recommend it.
Of course, the world didn’t grind to a halt just because I stopped posting on Instagram. I checked in frequently and followed your late-summer hurrahs and the joy-grief shuffle of college drop-offs. Whew. Mirabai leaves for Minnesota tomorrow to begin her junior year. The gnawing in the pit of my stomach is now familiar, which doesn’t make any easier. I wonder if you felt me beaming solidarity energy your way?
This is Parent of Adults by Asha Dornfest, an ongoing conversation about life after the kids grow up. Join us — sign up for a free subscription below.
So about our 30th wedding anniversary…
…it happened! 30 years of marriage. Thirty. THIR-TY. That is many, many, many years. I mean, it’s nuts.
We celebrated this milestone anniversary in a way that was both extravagant and intimate: we drove around to all the significant Berkeley/Oakland, CA apartments, restaurants, parks, cafes and street corners from our early years together.
Rael and I usually mark anniversaries with a kiss and a card and maybe a dinner out (pre-COVID), so this grand sentimental gesture was unusual for us.
A dear friend was getting married in the Bay Area days before our anniversary, so the timing was perfect for a road trip. We hopped in the van and drove down to celebrate his wedding, and what a joyous occasion it was. The next day we began our own trip down Memory Lane.
We visited the cafe where we first met and the site of our first date. We went to the parks and neighborhoods and brunch spots and restaurants we frequented while courting. (Courting, what an old-fashioned term. But, hey, it was 30 years ago so, valid.)
We convinced the patient synagogue caretaker to let us inside on a weekday afternoon so we could stand on the spot where we said our wedding vows and run back up the aisle.
We visited old apartments, including the one where we got engaged, and the one in which Sam was conceived. You’d better believe we texted him this picture to make him aware of that fact.
Standing in those places loosened memories and details that rushed back in three dimensions: the whirlwind of our courtship that was both exciting and familiar, the wonder and trepidation of our engagement and early marriage, the music we listened to, the movies we saw, the friends we lost touch with, the shared jokes and arguments, the jobs and projects that somehow knitted themselves into careers, and the seismic shift from couple to family. We drove by the park where we celebrated Sam’s first birthday party with homemade cake, and we stood on the sidewalk where we decided, if we ever had a daughter, we’d name her Mirabai.
We laughed a lot, mostly at ourselves. We’re less serious now, even though there’s more to be serious about, because there’s less time.
Sheer luck deserves most of the credit for our long marriage, but we still patted ourselves on the backs as we recounted the successes along with the crashes and near-misses. How young we were, how little we knew. THANK GOD because those clueless 24 year-olds had no idea what they were in for. There was no guarantee we’d make it to this moment with our health or marriage intact. I’m proud and grateful we paused to celebrate that.
Rael and I are about to embark on some international travel; trips we’ve plotted and planned since the kids were little. It’s time to shake things up and see where the dust settles.
Life often looks clearer from a distance. As I peer out on our next likely-less-than-30 years together, there’s one thing I know for sure: we have no idea what we’re in for.
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