Marriage, right? I bet you’re so glad I’m about to write about it because what the internet seriously needs right now is for someone to write opinions about marriage.
BUT YET, here I am about to do that very thing. A book where I explicitly said how little I understood about marriage was not enough because now, I have to do blogposts too to convey this flimsy grasp as well.
This topic is of particular importance today because my wife, Ashley, and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage today. Like as in, right now. And a number like that can make you feel things. Like you are obligated to conduct some kind of internal evaluation due to the benchmarkish-ness of the number. So here I am. Internally evaluating things but in an external way.
Ok, it’s mostly just external but relax. It’s not like I majored in prefixes in college or anything.
The other night, our kids were miraculously asleep so Ashley and I were in the kitchen just lapping up this unfamiliar luxury of time that didn’t also converge with exhaustion or having to do some other task associated with the parenting of small children like laundry or picking up small toys that never get played with yet inexplicably are everywhere always.
By virtue of this freedom, I was going to do some writerly things, so I popped open our computer and Ashley’s iPhoto queued itself up, beckoning for our immediate attention as apps tend to do on the regular these days (looking at you, Adobe).
So I started looking at pictures. It was mostly of our kids. Are we those parents that take a lot of pictures of our kids? Sure. Maybe you don’t understand that and that’s fine. I don’t understand people who take a lot of selfies. Don’t you know what you look like already? Then you would probably say, “Don’t you know what your kids look like already?” and then we would be stuck in this awful, passive aggressive Mexican standoff and, guys, seriously, me and my wife are celebrating 10 years today. Could you not right now?
Anyways, I started scrolling through our pictures. I saw a picture of our first trip to Disney World with our son and daughter. I called Ashley over. We couldn’t believe how different our daughter looked. I mean, it’s not like she looked like a centaur or anything. She was just so little. You couldn’t really see the personality that has since come to define her face.
We scrolled more. We scrolled for a while, honestly, just looking back over the last couple of years. Reveling in the nostalgia. I know it’s said that “Remember when…” is the lowest form of conversation, but not all instances of it are equal and the other night, it certainly wasn’t for us.
We laughed. We teared up a little (at least I know i did) and we talked about where we’d been and what we’d done, all under the umbrella of us together. Our marriage. Me and her.
Whenever I think about Ashley and our kids, I think about this moment from Mad Men (skip to 1:21 if it doesn’t already do it for you)…
It makes me think about how when I look at pictures and revisit memories and laugh about things that happened to us that only we know about, that I do feel a small sense of pain. I do feel a twingeing of the heart because revisiting these things reminds me that these moments are gone and I can never get them back as badly as I want to.
If it were up to me, I would live in this alternate universe where I can slide back and forth between different time periods of my marriage and my children’s lives for infinity. Knowing that I’m stuck on this slow and unrelenting march forward through our lives kills me because I always feel like I’m wasting it. Like I’m not diving into as deeply as I could be and if I could only take a couple of shots at it, I could get it perfectly right.
The potential of regret looms over me long before it’s a viable feeling to have.
But I think this gets at the core of nostalgia. Happiness for having it and being able to revisit it but all through the emotional prism of bittersweet wistfulness.
Over the last 10 years, between us we’ve had: 3 kids. 1 dog. 4 houses. 7 jobs. Infinity billion fights. Infinity trillion laughs. And I wouldn’t trade anything for any of those moments no matter how bad they were. But even more, I wouldn’t trade anything for what we have in front of us. Basically, I would be the worst trade partner in these terms is what I’m saying.
As much as I love all those old memories, I love the idea of new ones that we can add. Except for kids. We’ve taken surgical steps to prevent this. But totally on all those other things.
Happy 10 years, Ashley. We’ve come a loooooong way, haven’t we?