Karen and I celebrate our 21st anniversary today. On this date, in 1988, I was kneeling next to this lovely woman in front of an alter at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Potomac, Maryland. I was wearing a crown and trying to follow a very serious marriage ceremony, some of which was celebrated in another language. All I know is that, when it was over, I felt pretty damn married.
It must have worked. Twenty-one years later and I am just as married -- and just as happy, if not more so.
Ever since our marriage, and maybe even more so since the birth of our daughters, I find I am a great softy. News of weddings and births chokes me up. During the brief periods of openness recently when large groups of gay and lesbian couples were marrying, and the marriages were all over the news, I was a mess. Those weddings made me terribly happy. They added even more depth and joy to our marriage.
Our recent trip to Hawaii was, in part, a celebration of last year's 20th anniversary. We'd been talking about doing something big and special for that anniversary, but the planning worked out to put the trip into this past summer. I had talked, during our honeymoon, about celebrating 10 or 20 years by repeating that honeymoon, (with any kids we might have), but it was a hot-air ballooning trip to Switzerland and that just hasn't been practical (or particularly affordable). Yet.
So here we are, 21 years into marriage. Sometimes I complain that, after 23 years (if you include courtship), I have about run out of ideas for gifts and cards. But I find I always come up with something. And the search for gifts for Karen makes me happy, too.
This year, the gift is small, but pretty. And, of course, there are flowers. I traditionally place a call to Givens Flowers, in Georgetown, to order roses delivered to Karen at work. I've gotten used to the same woman who answers the phone there and who has always given me great service. This year, the message I asked for for the card included the fact of 21 years of marriage.
“Keep up the good work,” she said. “My husband and I just celebrated 50 years.”
When we married, Father Tom, who performed the ceremony, told us to try to surprise each other with something each day of our marriage – even if it is just a rock. We've done that. In fact, we have a tradition of keeping an eye out for heart-shaped pebbles on the beach – we spend a lot of time on the beach. We have several glass jars on our mantle in which we've collected years worth of pebbles – heart shaped, perfectly oval, or just interesting.
So I'll keep trying to be a loving husband. My parents have been together for more than 50 years, and so have Karen's parents. I hope to offer a 50th anniversary blog post -- or whatever the equivalent may be in the year 2038.