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May 13th, 2008

eighteen

I attend a meeting each week in which the moderator routinely says something along the lines of "eighty two pounds--that's a fourth grader!". The idea appeals that a collective weigh-in can produce an amount of loss equal to the weight of a hypothetical elementary school child.

May 12 is a day on which we tote up a milestone. We do not sum our collective weights, nor our incomes, nor our scores at cribbage, which is not a game that I play. We instead count up how many years since a rainy but very green May day on which we exchanged our wedding vows.

Yesterday was one of those "practically a teenager" milestones, as we marked our eighteenth anniversary. Eighteen has all those "age of adulthood" connotations that fit so well with a long-term relationship. The first eighteen years are easier, I think, for me, than the first eighteen months.

We will save our celebrations for a day or two, as I just arrived from Pittsburgh last night. We spent a quiet evening together instead. Sometimes things work out that way. The night we were to go to a special dinner and I was to propose, my wife had to stay in due to illness. Perhaps getting engaged when one has influenza has its advantages, as the juxtaposition of great joy and mild sneezing fits some mental image I have of the delightful asynchronies of life.

Yesterday in Pittsburgh was a rainy day, when everything was very green. Eighteen years ago, the dark blue clouds and the sheen of moisture falling created those conditions when the colors just "pop". The organ played Purcell's "Trumpet Tune". There was a reception with a string quartet; a rehearsal dinner at a club on a river. I do not believe that I have watched the wedding video since shortly after its creation. My mental images are more satisfying, I think, though now that I write that sentence, I'd like to see the video again after all.

Eighteen years is a pleasingly long time for an endeavor. Yet the comfort in relationships is not in the knowing of their longevity, but in the living of them. Six passages of three years each. Thousands of days.
Nearly countless seconds, flying by, each adding upon the last. I have always been attracted to the eternal quality of the spaces in between.

In the coming evenings, we'll celebrate, and count the days, and exchange gifts and cards. We'll then continue forward, as we have for eighteen years. There's a comfort in that.