Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

Today, Paige and I celebrate 16 years of marital bliss.  I feel like the occasion calls for something other than a list, but for some reason, the list keeps coming back into my mind.  

In 16 years, we've had four cars:
A 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (Brougham Package), given to us by George & Martha Smith, God rest their generous souls.
A 1984 Volvo 240 DL wagon (aka the Blue Goose), given to us by Dave & Anne Hennessey, God bless their generous souls.
A 1990 Honda Accord (aka the Golden Dragon), purchased in 2000 from Marshall & Lottie Bracewell (age 80) of Tonowanda, New York
A 1997 Honda Accord (aka the Blue Car), purchased in 2004 at Frenchy's Auto, "The Home of Affordable Transportation"

We've lived in three apartments and two houses:
Our first apartment was a barely-insulated, converted one-bedroom attic in Bellevue, PA.  Our ratio of money to time was such that we occasionally shopped the specials at all three grocery stores in that little borough in the same week.  We liked walking to the dentist and the barber shop.  We loved never paying more than $5 for a large pizza due to the intense competition in Bellevue and its adjacent municipalities.  We roasted in the summer and froze in the winter.  We felt the cold especially in the claw foot tub with a wand shower head in the slanted-ceiling bathroom.  When we hosted dinner, we'd extend our kitchen table with an end table.  Seated at the table, one could reach the stove, microwave and sink.  Rent: $325/mo. utilities included.

Our second one-bedroom apartment was on the first floor of a rather similar house across town.  We consolidated our work, social and church lives in the East End.  A garage on the alley seriously upgraded our car storage over the steep driveway on a blind curve in Bellevue.  Some of the stained glass windows remained there, in the living room (the original dining room) and our bedroom (an original parlor).  One human fit in the bathroom, barely.  We loved giving directions to that apartment by telling people that they'd know the place on our street because of the golden dragons over the door.  That's why we named our first Honda the Golden Dragon, actually.

In our third apartment, we upgraded to two bedrooms in a top & bottom duplex.  We liked having a dining room, a sunroom and lovely arts & crafts details.  It was a lot easier to entertain there.  We missed the garage and the dishwasher, but enjoyed the space and charm we traded for them.  We found that apartment under miraculous circumstances, needing a new place in February in Pittsburgh because the House of the Golden Dragons had sold to new owners that wanted to convert it back into a single family home.  I happened to look online on the first day the ad went online at the dawn of the time when people put ads online.  We signed a lease that day. Then we moved just two blocks to our new place.

The third apartment positioned us to buy the first house.  Our across-the-street neighbor asked if a car parked in front of her house was ours.  She was trying to make space for the moving truck.  Moving truck?  We were just towing into house-buying territory.  We got an agent on the double, went to the open house on Sunday, the first time anyone had seen the house.  We walked back across the street, wrote up an offer and delivered it at the end of the open house at 4.  We had a verbal agreement that night at 10.  We crammed so much stuff and experience into 10 years in those three bedrooms.  We stripped wallpaper from every wall and some ceilings.  We could put guests in an actual bed, given to us (possibly by generous accident) by Paige's aunt & uncle.

Then, of course, 10 years later, we moved back across the street to our current house.  It didn't take long to feel like home, and we keep piling up the experiences, even as we try to shed stuff.  A guest room rocks.  A coat closet rocks harder.  Two bathrooms changed our entire existence.  Commodious attic & basement playspaces revolutionized having children.

Speaking of which, we've made two children in these 16 years of marriage:
We had a nice long start by ourselves.  The fact that it was slightly longer than we wanted feels like a distant memory now, but we had some time there when it was all we thought and felt about.  Both of our boys are as extroverted and sports-minded as their daddy and as precise as their mommy.  Charlie is sweet and encyclopedic and dreams big dreams.  Teddy hurls energy wherever he goes and has a great imagination and makes definite plans.  They both brought into our lives, individually and as a couple, a kind of love we'd never known before.  At the same time, we've pursued a shared goal to maintain our relationship as husband and wife as the one from which those lives sprung.  We don't really believe in being so kid-focuses that we don't look across the table at each other anymore.

That was really the climax of the post.   We've also in this marriage earned two professional degrees with very little debt (a massive blessing), baked over 800 loaves of bread, thrown some really fun parties, visited Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, England, France, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Not to mention California, which feels like a foreign country for Pennsylvanians.  We've endured the deaths of four grandparents and an uncle.  We've also gotten to aunt and uncle five cool nieces and nephews.

Gosh, this post got long, but we're just blessed like crazy.  It's good every once in a while to use an occasion like an anniversary to pause and recognize that.  We usually write in people's wedding cards "Marriage is fun!"  We believe that.  Marriage gets a bad rap today, but the real thing - not the sitcom thing, played for laughs - is mostly awesome.  Paige doesn't have a blog, so you're getting my side here.  We've had our hard times, certainly, and we've had to work on this relationship, but that work has paid off.  Today is A happy anniversary indeed. 


Azure said...

Congratulations!! I always knew that you two were a forever couple. :)

Anne H. said...

Hooray for you and Paige and 16 years. Hooray for the boys you created who are a constant joy to me. You are blessed indeed and may you continue blessed for years and years to come.

Lauren Jackson said...

What a joyful and loving tribute to your lives together. We miss and love you!