This summer, August 20thto be exact, my husband and I celebrate our 30thwedding anniversary. We began young, with an instant family and responsibilities from the start. It was a time before the internet made travelling so efficient, and on our tight budget we didn’t bother to make a reservation before joyfully hitting the road in our tiny, powder blue Subaru to seek out the beauty of Niagara Falls. From the Vaseline on the windshield wipers, to the pebbles in the hubcaps, our friends and family took pride in the decorating of our humble hatchback.
My new husband had laundry to finish before we took to the road that evening, and in retrospect we should have just left the next morning bright and early. But that isn’t the material in which memories are made.
Leaving the Adirondacks just before dusk, we pointed ourselves north. After several hours of driving, with “No Vacancy” signs from here to Canada, the rain began. We could barely see 10 feet in front of the car, and finally called it a night in a random parking lot just before the Canadian border. We tried to make the best of our wedding night, but even with the back seat folded down, my new 6’3” groom struggled to fit in our water-logged hatchback with his bride andour luggage. In my defense, I’ve learned to pack more efficiently these days.
At dawn’s first light, we looked more closely at the map and realized that we had gotten slightly off track. We shifted direction and wasted no time finding a room within commuting distance to the falls. No passport was required to cross the border back then, so we rented a room on the American side and drove to Canada during the day. The novelty of the falls wore off quickly, as did my palate for soy-burger joints that lined it on the Canadian side, and by Wednesday we were ready to return home 3 days early. The money we saved came in handy to set up our first apartment downstairs at my in-laws. But our economizing didn’t last long, because by the time we celebrated our first anniversary I was pregnant.
In the years that followed we worked 40-60 hour shifts, purchased and sold our first home, relocated to the Lake George area, rebuilt our home from the ground up without the assistance of contractors, raised our sons, then with my husband’s full support I returned to school to earn a master’s degree and change careers. In essence, we were the responsible adults we were supposed to be.
It wasn’t until our 18thanniversary that we finally flew on a plane together. I confess it was worth the wait, since this was to be the first of 4 trips to Oahu in the years that followed. Yet nothing I said could convince him we should get our passports to expand our options.
Two summers ago, we lost my mother-in-law to dementia and the problems brought on by this horrible condition. Last summer we mourned the untimely death of a close family friend who went to high school with my husband. A few days after the funeral, we gathered with family and friends to celebrate his life and after a long silence my husband spoke up. To no-one and everyone he said, “I figure we have another good 20 years left, if we’re lucky, and we better make it good.” The very next week we were at the post office getting our passport photo taken.
We celebrated our 25thwith a drama-filled cookout in the back yard that took weeks to plan and are in agreement that our 30thbe between the two of us. After years of being responsible, paying bills, raising children, and working hard, we have outgrown the hatchback and are embarking on what we have come to affectionately refer to as the summer of Mike and Lisa.
As with all adventures, it’s about the details and the details are what keep me inspired to write. In the next few days we begin the first leg of our summer travels- destination Bonaire. Even now I am reminded that the clock is ticking, and every day is precious. How will you spend your next 20 years?