Today is September 15th, 2013, and if I were writing a fairy tale (or even a cheesy rom-com), it would be about a man (played by Tom Hanks) and a woman (I never know who the woman should be) celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary.
Perhaps they'd be having a quiet romantic dinner together discussing how time really does fly by too fast (I'm sure you could imagine the montage). Or maybe they would talk about how their boys have grown into such wonderful young men. Maybe they would be planning the dream vacation they've always wanted to take and finally can. The actress, who I can't quite picture, would say, "Pass the champagne and caviar, would you, dear?"
Alas, that's not how I spent September 15th, the day of my 29th anniversary. Because my husband and I barely made it to year 25 and, due to circumstances beyond our control, had to push through an additional two years after that before we finally called it quits. So much for champagne and caviar.
Instead, I'm celebrating today by packing up my life for my second move in as many years. I'm downsizing into a one-bedroom apartment for my two dogs and me. Truth be told, I was feeling a little shitty about the whole thing until I came across all of our old photos at the bottom of my hall closet.
How strange … I hadn't looked at these pictures in years! I stopped packing for a few minutes, sat down on the floor and began to pick through boxes and pore over envelopes filled with old photos and so many memories.
There we were — my husband and I, before the boys were born. Grinning those idiotic grins that young lovers grin, with our outdated hairstyles and ridiculous outfits! Hysterical!
Then I saw a mountain of kid pictures at various stages of the boys' lives from newborn to just a few Thanksgivings ago. My ex was a big fan of taking photos on special occasions, oftentimes to everyone's annoyance. "Oh, Dad, not now!" the kids would say, "Please!! Stop!!"
All of these years later, I'm glad he didn't, because I was sitting there on the floor and couldn't stop smiling. So I did something I didn't do the past few years. I sent my ex an instant message, wishing him a happy anniversary with a little smiley face.
And you know what? He texted right back! "What do you get a couple who have been married for almost 30 years," he asked, "and no longer live with each other?"
I don't know exactly how to explain it, but that was the best response I could have received! Because even though we're no longer together, he still gets me.
I've said it before, but it warrants repeating — we still love each other very much and we did the best we could to raise a happy, healthy family. We gave it all we had until we had no more. But in the true spirit of time healing all wounds, our anger seems to have dissipated and we can see a lot more clearly who we are and how far we've come.
I actually wouldn't mind having dinner with him tonight. We would laugh and talk and maybe even cry a little. And we would be eating pizza and drinking beer because we were never the fancy champagne and caviar types. Just two friends who lost their way.