We climbed a mountain, to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
We got to the top, together. Laughing, and complaining, in rotation, trying not to get eaten by bears, and figuring out how we would poop in the woods, if we got lost and it came down to that.
We’re celebrating bigly this year, because we’re really fucking proud that we’ve survived this far. Still being married after 15 years (20 together) isn’t a no-brainer, and wasn’t a sure thing. We absolutely could have both walked out of this. Maybe should have, a few times. In a blaze of righteousness, even. Especially over the past few years.
It’s been a “trying” time. That’s polite-talk for terrifying, weird, so much change and distance between us. A long line of ruthless conversations about who we are, the new demands we have for each other, where our line in the sand has moved. Job changes, job losses, new business that’s requiring all of our attention and money, but, wait, two little kids who we love like crazy and who never stop yelling, also requiring all of our attention and money.
At some point along life, we stopped looking at each other, because there were all these other, more pressing, things to look toward. We released hands and averted our eyes to those other things, not really realizing it. We took some steps toward the new crush of responsibilities, pain, joys, and worries, and in time, looked around, and found that we were each alone. We were changed by what we encountered, and how we dealt with it.
It took a really long time to step back and find each other. We forgot that the other one was standing right there, next to us, not that far away, also looking out into their mess. Did this person, who’d been living next to me, but not really with me, understand me at all now, this new version of me? Did he have my back? Those were the rough questions, the impossibly painful conversations. It was brutal, but necessary.
Neither of us wanted a shallow, functional relationship, which is what we had. We were mostly pulling it off, co-parenting the kids, co-supporting this business, co-keeping up on the house and bills and other family obligations, but we weren’t loving and respecting each other, we weren’t truly getting, or supporting each other. I fell into the habit of saying, “it is what it is,” which was my way of saying, I hate this thing we’ve got between us so much, but what a nightmare to try to back out of it, I guess this is where we’re stuck. I suspected I deserved better, but didn’t know how to get it.
The fights, to change that situation, were terrible. It was like having to re-break a bone to let it properly heal. We did it, and we are healing. It sucks, but we need this marriage bone to be healthy well into old age, and it has to be strong enough to hold up a bunch of other parts, too.
And, it’s better now. We get each other, finally, again. We feel like we can finally be adequately loved and supported by each other. I’m not trying to resign myself to a weak, and painful version of us. I can stand tall and proud, with real faith in what we’re working on. It’s good.
So, we’re on a wee trip to small town western Pennsylvania celebrate our 15th anniversary, to a resort I found on Groupon. We don’t really have the available funds to do this, and we got groceries from the Giant Eagle grocery store in town, instead of eating at fancy restaurants, but we are together, and peaceful. Feeling fortified.
We first went to Falling Water, Frank Loyd Wright’s, masterpiece house in the remote mountain woods, and as we drove down the driveway toward the entrance, a young fawn walked alongside our car. We instinctively started whispering, and we’ve been sort of whispering since. After all the screaming, it’s nice to speak quietly together, and know we’re each being heard.
I have no idea what the next 15 years will be like. We’re both working on big stuff individually, and together, so I suspect it will be more tumultuous change, learning, growth, uncertainty. We’re going to try really hard to stay next to each other, hands clasped, or back-to-back with wands out at the world, (HP 4EVA) because we choose each other deliberately, and we’ve fought hard to make this a fierce, strong union that can withstand injuries and even support the weight of others.
I refused to pay for the nice wifi, so pictures won’t load. So trust, that there are pretty pics of the mountain we climbed. BECAUSE METAPHOR.