Tomorrow, Stanton and I are celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary. You’ll excuse me, friends, for taking a moment here to reminisce.
We got married in my Pennsylvania hometown, early spring a decade ago. It was a beautiful day, filled with family and friends. Italian pepper cookies (a Minetola family favorite), as well as a rendition of “God Blessed Texas” (a nod to Stanton’s San Antonio roots), were involved.
Afterward, we honeymooned on the Costa del Sol. One morning, we took a ferry from southern Spain to Morocco, to spend the day there. I remember setting out at sunrise, the mint tea when we arrived, the adventure of it all.
What most sticks out in my memory, though, is getting seasick on the ferry ride back.
That’s true love for you, am I right? One minute you’re #livingthedream; the next, you’re asking your partner to find a barf bag, ASAP.
You know, I really do believe that’s true love. Oprah may have said it best: “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
During 10 years, our limo has broken down a time or two. And it probably will break down a time or two again; we’re only 10 years in. At this point, Stanton and I have seen each other at our worst, at our most vulnerable, in our darkest hour. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth the effort and the journey.
What have been helpful to Stanton and me all this time, I think—and what we want to pass along to our children—are gratitude, humility and hard work. Values that our own parents lived out for us. We try to embrace and enjoy every day, and we also recognize real life is not an endless joy ride.
Speaking of which…
One minute you’re #livingthedream; the next, you’re asking your partner to find a barf bag, ASAP.
Stanton and I met at a party, in college in Virginia. Our good mutual friend David introduced us. David has since passed away, sadly, but I still smile at the memory of him, and the memory of that young, innocent time we all had together.
At that party, David was talking with me, plus my other girl friends. Stanton told me later that he saw his friend David across the room and thought, “What’s David doing with all those girls? I’ve got more game than him.” A healthy level of self-confidence (possibly fueled by some Milwaukee’s Best) prompted Stanton to join our group and introduce himself to me.
(We’ll always love you, friend.)
College parties, your wedding day, ferry rides across international seas—they’re all more “special occasion” than “real life.” As anyone who has been married for a while knows, marriage is made up of more ordinary moments than special occasions. Real life is working…grocery shopping…taking your car for its state inspection and hoping it passes. If you have kids, then real life also includes less sleep and more worry.
One evening recently, Stanton and I were in the family room (10 years later, we’ve landed in New York’s Capital Region). Grace and Anna were upstairs; they had both just fallen asleep. The TV was on, quietly, tuned in to a “Parks and Rec” rerun. (Maybe one day we’ll watch something new, something we haven’t already seen hundreds of times—maybe.)
Neither of us was watching the show, though. Stanton was replying to a work email, and I was folding the girls’ laundry.
Not. Glamorous. But this is exactly what was happening.
I had music on in the background, and a new-ish country song started playing: “Unforgettable,” Thomas Rhett.
This is one of the things Stanton and I bonded over, when we were getting to know each other: our love of country music.
“And I bet right now you’re thinking/ That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do”—these lyrics from that song can get stuck in my head.
Everyone says it, and they say it because it’s true: I can’t believe how much you’ve grown. I can’t believe how much time has passed. It feels like just yesterday.
It feels like just yesterday to me too, friends. College—studying at Boatwright, weekend pizza dates at Mary Angela’s in Carytown. Our first home. The births of our daughters. Saying good-bye to our grandfathers, his Grandaddy and my Poppy. Being there for each other, for a lot of things.
In that moment—that ordinary moment when we were together in the family room, doing nothing special—I looked over at Stanton and told him I loved him. I interrupted the relative quiet to say it; it was different from saying, “Love you!” as you’re both leaving the house, going in opposite directions. Stanton knew that; he replied, “I love you too, Mel.”
I feel a lot of gratitude for ordinary moments like that. For our home, for our family, for our history together. For those end-of-day, “Parks and Rec”-rerun moments.
Maybe one day we’ll watch something new, something we haven’t already seen hundreds of times—maybe.
I have just one more story to share. I don’t want to overdo it in the sappiness department. So here’s my last story, friends.
About halfway into our marriage, Stanton and I were on a date. Dinner. The place was an Italian restaurant.
We were talking, eating, drinking some wine. I said something—I don’t remember what—and Stanton narrowed his eyes at me.
“What?” I asked.
“I hear you,” Stanton said. “If that’s what you want, then OK, we’ll do it.”
I narrowed my eyes back at me. “I didn’t say that. What are you talking about?”
“Mel.” Stanton sighed. “I know you. I can read between the lines; you’re not subtle. And,” he added, “I’m not an idiot.”
I like to think I communicate well with people—I try to be diplomatic, to listen and empathize. What was revealing for me in that moment with Stanton is that he knows me—he really knows me. My diplomacy doesn’t work on him (anymore).
And that was an encouraging revelation, the revelation that I can be myself with him. I can be totally honest with him, and he’ll still stick around.
Every now and then, it’s also worthwhile to remember that you did not, in fact, marry an idiot.
Happy Anniversary to my hubby. Thank you for loving me, for everything you do for our family, for reading everything I write and providing constant encouragement (and great raw material).
You make me happy—and you drive me crazy—but most of all, you make me happy. ❤
“I sing to you. Not all the time, but definitely on special occasions. We’ve dealt with our share of surprises and made a lot of sacrifices, but we’ve stayed together. You see, you’re a better person than I am. And it made me a better person to be around you.” (The Family Man)
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “What Happens Next.” A story that’s heartfelt, relevant and can’t-put-it-down good.