Do you know where you were 35 years ago? Do you remember the weather and what you were wearing and what you had for dinner and who was late and who was obnoxious and how it felt to go to sleep that night? Probably not.... unless it's your anniversary today, too.
I'm writing this the evening before the big event, and I'm time traveling to G'ma and Daddooooo's backyard on Long Island. There's a yellow and white striped tent covering the grass, and the tables are stacked alongside the path towards the garbage cans. The cans which have been removed to a less conspicuous location, further from the walkway to be used by the guests as they arrive to celebrate with us, even though I thought it would be nice for my family and friends to admire the paint job we'd done on them one boring summer afternoon. They weren't elegant, but they were us. I lost that battle to G'ma's raised eyebrow and fifteen syllable enunciation of my name.
TBG's family had checked into their motel while he and Daddooooo and I were at the beach. We joined them around the pool later in the afternoon for hugs and congratulations and swimming as the wind picked up and the leaves of the trees turned upside down and silver. I watched Daddooooo noticing these sure indicators of rain and then watched him decide not to tell me. The man had an expressive face. I imagined him wondering just how waterproof the tent really was, wondering how sad I would be as I swam through mud to get to the ceremony, wondering why this happened to him over and over again never getting anything right and then I saw him smile and dive under the water to wash away the worries. Attention Deficit Disorder can sometimes be a wonderful thing. He came up with a smile and no indication that anything was amiss.
It was a soft and muggy evening as we gathered in the driveway, waiting for the last two guests to arrive before we could leave for the rehearsal dinner. They'd never been on time for anything we'd ever done together before; why we thought that this time would be different still eludes me. Eventually we put a note with a map and directions on the screen door and set off, a caravan of celebration. The latecomers arrived after the first round of drinks (one of the 4 or 5 times I saw G'ma drinking... sweet vermouth..... it was a shocker) but before the salads and we ate and drank and had dessert and strolled along the piers, looking at the fishing boats tied up in the canals. The sky was cloudy but there were patches of stars every once in a while and I remember the sound of my sandals on the wooden planks. And the sound of Daddooooo expounding, always talking, pointing out semi-interesting features of the landscape, with G'ma's murmured "Enough, already" as counter-point. But TBG's parents and siblings were along, too, and they were chatting and smiling and holding hands and looking at me with love and joy and I was happy thinking about the fact that they wanted me in their family as much as I wanted to be there.
Without air conditioning, it was too hot for all of us to sit inside the house, so we retired to the backyard for more talking. Neighbors came over for brief hello's and congratulations and Daddooooo captured Grandpaw for 3 straight hours of non-stop jabbering in adjacent lawn chairs and Brother went to pick up some pizzas because we were all hungry again. We caught fireflies in empty applesauce jars and played Kadimah and tossed a frisbee and football and we laughed..... especially when we realized that Grandpaw had turned down the volume on his hearing aide and was blissfully occupied with his own thoughts as Daddooooo chattered away. Remember Daddooooo's expressive face? It made it easy for Grandpaw to know when to smile and when to nod. It was a win-win situation.... and no one else had to worry about amusing my dad.
There were clean sheets and a light cotton blanket on my bed that night. I fell asleep to the sound of raindrops on the roof.
Happy Anniversary, Big Guy. It's been real.