I have two anniversaries, as one does: the anniversary of the day we first got together, and — as more and more of the gays do these days — a wedding anniversary.
Today is the first anniversary, marking that evening that in 1995 when Rachel and I both showed up at that big old house in Toronto’s Annex, where our friend Kathryn was house sitting (for one of our mutual women’s studies profs, natch) and had decided to have a sleepover party. I remember arriving, tingling, knowing that that girl would be there. And we sat under a grape arbour in the lush backyard, all vines and leaves entwining over our heads, and I was thinking of John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic novel when Rachel said, “Have you ever read Day of the Triffids?” And I was all like Deal, sealed.
We got married in June 2004. I was pregnant, as one is. And at our wedding our friends Jodi and Caitlin gave us a bottle of wine and told us to open it on our 10th wedding anniversary. And then June 2014 came and went and she was at a soccer tournament and I was away and then she was away and children and life and commitments and I don’t feel like drinking tonight and it took until two nights ago for us to finally crack open that bottle, closer to the second anniversary than the first, but somehow that seemed appropriate.
You guys, I worried about uncorking that wine. I was surprised that the bottle had lasted as long as it had — that it hadn’t broken, hadn’t been accidentally drunk at a party. Frankly, I was also somewhat incredulous that we had lasted the full 10 years, not to mention the 19. Because relationships are hard. Relationships are work, a lot of it, almost all the time. A lot of that work is boring: as Isaac is fond of saying to us, "All you guys ever talk about are washing machines and refrigerators." And then you add in one baby and then another and the actual work that pays you money if you’re lucky, and getting older, and all the other things that make up a life and it’s a wonder any of us stay together for more than a drink or two.
But there we were two nights ago, with the entire house to ourselves and doing the kinds of things that parents do when their children have been whisked away by angelic other people — cooking a real dinner (risotto with local chanterelle mushrooms, since you asked); eating late, outside, music on; lingering over an entire bottle of wine.
We hadn’t stored the wine properly — just stuck it on the top shelf of the wine rack and let it be, subject to light and heat and temperature fluctuations. When you have toddlers, children, a single bottle of wine has to fend for itself, a couple of rungs lower than the cats. And I thought, Well, if it’s corked, that’s not a sign. It’s just a thing that happened. We’ll open something else. It’ll be fine either way.
But, really, I wanted it to have lasted. I’m too hooked on metaphor and imagery to not have had a pang or two for the bottle that represented so much hope a decade ago to have withered away to vinegar.
The wine wasn’t corked. It was rich and complex and interesting and delicious. And we ate our dinner on the deck we built for the house we bought together. And it was lovely.
Look: I have no idea where I’ll be 19 years from now, 10 years from now. Even a couple of years from now is a quantifiable unknown. Around me, relationships crack and heal and scar and dissolve and re-form, although you wouldn’t know it on Facebook, at least not until after the fact. I can tell you what I do know about me and that girl at that house in the Annex: I know that wherever we are, it will be as the result of doing that daily work and how well we do it. I also know that even if we do a great job, the results aren’t guaranteed.
So this isn’t going to be one of those “Happy anniversary!” posts where I say, “Here’s to the next 19 years, babe!” Because who knows? What I do know, for sure, is that no matter what happens (and so, so much fantastic stuff could and likely will happen) over the next decades, no matter where we end up, that I hope to always be able to sit down with you over a great bottle of wine, and spend an evening in rich, complex, interesting, delicious conversation.