Yesterday commemorated Kurt’s and my eighth wedding anniversary. Some folks may have thought they got the day off in recognition of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America, but instead it was because of our anniversary. Heh.
Actually I don’t really get why people get all up in arms about Christopher Columbus. Sure, he “discovered” a country that was already inhabited, and sure, he brought disease to a people that had no natural immunity to it, but he was just the first European to get here. He wasn’t the one responsible for the horrible things the settlers did to the Native Americans in subsequent centuries, like the Trail of Tears. And if Columbus didn’t “discover” the New World, another European would have, and we’d be vilifying him.
For me, I’ll take the federal holiday and call it good.
But back to me. Eight years ago, in the City Park in Portsmouth, Virginia, I stood next to Kurt and promised to be his lawfully wedded wife. It was a gorgeous fall day, 70º and sunny, with just the teensiest breeze to keep it from getting too warm. I was nervous, of course, but somehow it just felt right. We did rush our wedding, having been engaged just five weeks before, but September 11th had just happened. We didn’t know what was going on. Kurt was on shore duty, but that didn’t really mean a whole lot. If the Navy wants you, you go. It wouldn’t be unheard of for him to be sent off. Hence the rapidity of which we were married, much to my parents’ chagrin. Seeing as they got married six weeks after they were engaged, I am not quite sure what the issue is, but whatever.
Kurt wore his uniform, being a Petty Officer First Class at the time, so he was in the classic “crackerjack” uniform. I wore a beautiful burgundy dress that almost looked like something from the 1920s. My hair was red and set in ringlet curls that tossed around my face in the breeze. There were all of twelve guests at our wedding, including my father, my biological mother, my sister, and my bestest friend. My (step)mom and my brother couldn’t come for reasons that are still unclear to me at this time. Basically I think my parents weren’t too keen on my getting married and were unwilling to show too much acceptance of what was happening.
Fortunately they’ve done a 180º in the intervening years. They can’t wait till we come to visit because Kurt helps them out around the house. He’s extremely handy, and usually he’s got nothing else to do while they’re there, so my mom hands him a honey-do list, and my dad asks for help on the boat or with his antique truck (when he still had it), and then there are the things that only Kurt can do because of his height. I come from a vertically-challenged family, you see. I’m one of the tall ones at just 5’3″. My dad’s not but three inches taller than I am, so Kurt ends up looking like a giant in all our family photos.
Our wedding night, Kurt and I spent at the ballet. I can’t even remember what we saw, to be honest. I was just so amazed to be a Mrs., especially since I was only 22 at the time, freshly graduated from college and in my first full-time job. I had even managed to wangle taking three days off from my new job to give me a five-day weekend. We were married on a Friday and drove up to Petersburg, Virginia, the next day to start our honeymoon. We didn’t want to do anything exotic; we got married so quickly that we didn’t have time to save up for a proper honeymoon, and honestly I don’t feel like I missed anything. Kurt reserved a room at a lovely bed & breakfast up there, and we wandered the streets of Petersburg and Richmond, doing whatever caught our fancy. We wanted to see the Poe Museum, but it was closed. That’s really all I remember of our Richmond wanderings, so maybe it’s best we didn’t spend our money on some fancy vacation. I’m not sure I would remember it by now!
A year and a half after we were married, Kurt was transferred to Washington state. Two weeks after we moved into our first home, he was shipped off to the Persian Gulf in support of the war in retaliation for September 11th. It absolutely sucked being without Kurt, especially since we had spent the first eighteen months of our marriage in near-constant company. He was working the second shift at his shore job, and he was rarely at work. I wasn’t working at the time either, having seen my company begin to self-destruct. I figured it was time I jumped ship, a move that the rest of the lab agreed with, so Kurt and I didn’t even have our jobs to get in the way of spending time with each other. We went from being together almost 24/7 to his being sent half a world away, with no phone communication and emails coming through only spottily. It was also hard since I had just moved to Washington and I knew no one at all on that side of the country.
But that’s when I really grew up. Kurt left behind a scared little girl and came home to a strong and independent woman. I would have to say that over the last eight years, I’ve done the most changing. I’m certainly not the girl he married anymore, but I’ve evolved. Now he can leave me behind for as long as the Navy needs him, and he doesn’t have to worry about whether I can pay the bills or feed the kids or repair what’s broken or figure out how to jerry-rig something. I’ll get done what has to get done — and he can give his full attention to his job without the distraction of worrying about me.
Somehow it works, though. We’re so goofy together, always laughing and joking and tickling and chasing. We tease each other almost all the time, gently, of course. We love to play with the kids, and to retain some of the childlike joy that we see mirrored in our daughters’ eyes. Because really, if you can’t laugh and play and joke, what’s the point of it all? We may not have the nicest furniture or the fanciest car or the best clothes, but we have each other, and we have our sense of humor.
And amazingly enough, after eight years of ups and downs and sideways and backwards, we’re still stupidly in love with each other.
Here’s to many, many more years of happiness together, my dear. May we always simply enjoy one another.