When you have been married as long as I have, you start using phrases like, "When you've been married as long as I have." It is all part of that not-a-sprint-it's-a-marathon experience we enjoy almost all of the time. Certainly after a couple decades there are moments when the humdrum existence of wedded bliss lacks the crackle and snap that we enjoyed once upon a time. It is the challenge married folks endure, when those magic moments spent staring into one another's eyes have turned into hours of looking at one another with the expectant gaze that says, "What next?"
There have been dozens of roses. There have been piles of little gifts. Keepsakes and mementos of the time we have spent building a home, building a family, building a relationship. We have a cabinet that is full of vases of various sizes and shapes that have held, at one time or another, some or all of those roses and bouquets for a variety of occasions. Large and small. And every week or so, I pluck one of the blooms from the rose bushes that grow in our yard, and place it on the table as a reminder of the romance that got us this far.
But it is a long haul, and sometimes the tank runs a little dry. Those moments like a wedding or the birth of a son are passed, and each milestone we reach at an anniversary rings a little louder and a little stronger, and yet even though the room seems a little bigger it gets harder to fill. The albums filled with "remember when" grow full. I love to hear my wife tell the story of how we first met. How we were friends for all those years before we ever dated. Like old married folk, I feel the need to jump in from time to time with my counterpoint. Sometimes we finish each other's sentences even when we don't want it to happen.
I confess that I do miss those days when each new gesture was a surprise. When I proposed, for example. That feeling is buried somewhere in the basement, with the cancelled checks and the VHS tapes. Every so often, I run across it, like the other day when I saw this video of a young couple getting engaged at a Bruce Springsteen show. There wasn't a crowd around my wife and I, and the Boss wasn't singing, and we didn't appear on a giant video screen.
But I'm pretty sure there were fireworks.