You couldn't have asked for a better day. Sunny and warm, but little humidity, the azalea's in bloom. My mother has always commented on that. I got up early that day and went for a long walk, down Massachusetts Avenue to a little stretch of park that wound through a shallow, creek-created vale that, if you wanted to walk all the way, took you to Georgetown, right next to the University. I walked part way, then back out and back north on Mass Ave up to Wagshal's Delicatessan where I ordered a sandwich for an early lunch.
It had been a crazy, busy couple days. Friends and family arriving in the nation's capital from all over, including a U-Haul trailer filled with furniture. Meeting and greeting everyone. Getting lost on a drive from National Airport to a hotel in Alexandria. All the while remembering that on Monday, May 10, I would be graduating with my Master of Theological Studies Degree from Wesley Theological Seminary.
At 1:30, all these friend and family gathered in Oxnam Memorial Chapel at Wesley, and, with the Rev. Dr. Kyung Lim Shin-Lee (Dean of Community Life) officiating, Lisa and I got married. A gathering in the quad followed immediately, then a reception in the Seminary refectory. When all was said and done, bouquets tossed, cake cut, some dancing, Lisa and I dodged a hail of birdseed (not always effectively) and headed to the Embassy Suites Hotel in Tenleytown for a quiet - too quiet, really - dinner and a night alone together.
Over the past seventeen years, we've lived a lot of places, are on our second dog, third cat, have two wonderful children, are preparing for her fourth appointment, and yet one constant remains as it always has - one another. I have neither wisdom nor insight to offer as a generalization about marriage. I can say with all honesty that, for all the ups and downs, twists and turns of married life, the simple fact is that Lisa and I have become so close over the years, we finish one another's sentences. We can get one another laughing without saying anything. We have little rituals that are ours alone. Our stories are ours, not separate ones. We have shared laughter and tears, to be sure, but the bond that links us is not simple, romantic love. No, it is something indefinable yet very real. We are not two individuals who share a space and time and separate memories. We are us, we two together sharing the same time and place and memories that hold the same meaning for us. We have grown together, gone from early adulthood to middle age together, and through it all have leaned on one another, occasionally yelled at one another, but never, ever, stopped loving and cherishing one another.
For some reason this anniversary seems far more special than many previous ones. Perhaps it is because we are on the verge of moving, a life-change that makes anyone look backward as much as forward. For whatever reason, I am grateful for the years, for the support I have always had from her, for the simple reality and grace that her presence in my life really is. I am a far better person as her husband than I would ever have been on my own or with anyone else. My hope for the future is really quite simple - that we remain, as we have been, that strange, marvelous thing that is a couple as a single reality greater than the sum of the two together.
Oh, and by the way. I love you, Lisa. Happy Anniversary, baby.