Tag Archives: anniversary

Wasted Youth and 10pm Bedtimes

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Photo by Jordan McQueen

We heard them before we saw them.

Some background first. My wife and I were in downtown Boston celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. It was a blissful and rare occasion where all three kids were taken care of by relatives, the dog was temporarily re-homed for the night, and we were free to dine like royalty and use the city as our playground.

We ate a delicious meal at a small Italian restaurant in the North End. We had a few cocktails. We went back to the hotel lobby bar and had a few more. But soon we grew weary and decided to return to our hotel room.

The elevator doors were closing when a group of kids in their 20s yelled at us to hold the door, and then piled in. They were cocked. So happy, so giggly, so loud, and so carefree. Celebrating their friend’s 21st birthday in Boston, they had just finished pre-gaming and were getting ready to head out to the bars and really kick things into gear. Their night was just beginning as ours was winding down.

It was 10:07 pm.

One of the guys apologized to us for the raucous behavior. “Sorry sir, ma’am…we’re a little drunk.” Sir? Ma’am? Ouch. MJ and I smiled and told him not to worry about it, as we remember those days well. Those days — somehow simultaneously yesterday yet a million years ago. Fun to think about and even replicate once or twice a year, but now no longer wanted. The comforts of Netflix and a warm bed being the preferred option of Sirs and Ma’ams everywhere.

We looked at them and saw  youthful exuberance. The ability to push yourself without sleep and somehow feel like a million bucks in the morning. The gleam of adventure in their eyes, never really knowing what excitement the night holds but eagerly anticipating whatever’s in store.

We were once like that. But unlike many 30-somethings who enjoy looking down their noses and lecturing young people about TRUE happiness and REAL satisfaction that can only come from marriage and REAL love that “can only be had between a parent and child,” I don’t think that way.

I think they’re plenty happy. I know I was. Those years were some of the best of my life, and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. Even though some of them might one day choose a different path, I know marriage and kids is far from the only way to be happy. Satisfied. So I refuse to look at them with condescending pity like I know better.

I also see them look at us with a mixture of emotions.

They laugh at the thought of going to bed when they’re used to going out for the night. They tell themselves they’ll never be that old, and maybe they’re right. Or maybe not. Either way, they can’t fathom the idea of marriage, kids, and 10 pm bedtimes because why should they? Being in your early 20s is exactly the time to feel invincible and crazy and awesomely impervious.

And yet there’s a tiny glimmer of curiosity there. Could it really be possible to find one person and be happy? What’s that like? Maybe it’s not so bad.

And so it was — an emotional crossroads in a Boston elevator as the wild and careening trajectory of youth briefly touched the more measured plodding of the near middle-aged.

I think both sides enjoyed the interaction, but were glad we weren’t the other. As it should be.

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The Best Decision

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The secret to a successful marriage isn’t just choosing to marry the right person at the outset. It’s choosing to be with that person every single day that follows.

MJ and I chose each other for life 10 years ago to this very day, and life immediately began testing us in ways I could never have anticipated. From losing more pregnancies than we have children to declaring bankruptcy and losing our home four years ago, we’ve seen some shit. Not as rough as some people had it to be sure, but pretty awful at times.

At some point during the plunge to rock bottom, I began to think my life would be easier without MJ. That was a startling and terrifying realization, until I realized something important. I’m a complete idiot.

Of course life would easier without being married. Pledging to be with someone for the rest of eternity and occupying the same space (and therefore the same problems) is inherently complicated. And messy. So yes, technically speaking, life would be easier absent those complications.

But it damn sure wouldn’t be worth it.

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Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and things obtained easily are seldom worthwhile. MJ and I are two difficult people who have wildly differing personalities and interests. We have to work every single day on being good partners to each other, because we are not naturally compatible. But we decided long ago to make it work, so we do.

I won’t sit here and tell you I didn’t know love until I met MJ. I had been in love several times before her and she loved other men too. The difference is, with MJ, I learned how to love better. She showed me love is more than just fiery passion (which I have in abundance) and grand gestures, it’s in the mundane. The everyday moments when no one is looking. I used to think that was boring, but I also used to have relationships that ended with fiery crash and burns.

I knew love in the past, but I never knew how to nurture it with the daily care that’s so vital to its growth. I never realized I had to choose to love on a daily basis and commit — I mean REALLY commit — to focus on it every day. To realize it’s worth it, and never let that notion leave my mind.

It’s not easy and there are always doubts, but it’s worth it. All of the bad times are worth it if you’re with the right person and willing to work at love.

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I’m with the right person. I knew that 10 years ago and I realize it even more now. I’m with a patient, kind, forgiving, and considerate person who gives of herself always. I’m with a woman whose loyalty is never in question, and who is strong in all the areas in which I’m weak. Someone who makes me want to be a better person all on my own without ever tossing down an ultimatum.

When it comes down to it, I’m with someone worth fighting for. Ten years ago, today, and always.

Thank you for the last 10 years, MJ. Thank you for sticking with me even when you had no reason to do so. Thank you for your patience, kindness, and support. We’ve been on top as homeowners in our mid-20s, knocked down and humiliated a few years later, and we’ve built ourselves back up again. But even with all that’s happened, I wouldn’t change anything. Not if it meant giving up even one iota of this life we’ve worked so hard to build together.

It is the honor of my life to be your husband, and I’ll never stop trying to prove I’m worthy to be your partner on this crazy journey.

Today, just as I did a decade ago, I choose to love you. Always.

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If I Die, Give My Wife Some Breadsticks

breadsticks“If I died, would you get remarried?”

I’m sure that’s a question all married couples have tackled at some point. The “What would happen if…” game can be an interesting peek into the mind of your soul mate, but when you have kids it takes on added importance. Mainly because you want to know that if something happens to you, your partner will be able to carry on and take care of him/herself as well as the kids.

So when MJ asked me this question out of the blue, it was actually pretty timely. Our wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and I was thinking a lot about her and how much I care about her. And yes, I admit, the macabre side of me had begun to think about what would happen if I lost her. So I took a deep breath and answered her with what was genuinely in my heart.

“Would I get remarried if I lost you? Honestly, no. I wouldn’t. And I don’t say that to score points with you now or kiss your ass — I mean it. There are a whole bunch of reasons I married you, but first and foremost it’s because I’ve never loved someone like I love you. I’ve never loved so hard, so much, so completely, so passionately that sometimes the line between loving you and wanting to throw you off a balcony is blurred. I’ve never been so fulfilled by another human being in my whole life. I’ll never be as comfortable with anyone else as I am with you. No other woman could imprint herself onto my soul like you have. Besides, trying to find someone as gorgeous as you — someone who I see day in and day out yet still gets me worked up like a horny teenager just looking in your direction — would be absolutely impossible. 

You’ve ruined me forever. I’m no good to any other woman except for you. Trying to get remarried would be fruitless because it’d be like getting to have the Mona Lisa in my living room and then having to settle for dogs playing poker. Like driving a Ferrari and then being forced behind the wheel of an ’84 Buick Skylark. Like eating at the Olive Garden after traveling to Italy and feasting on the best Italian food in the world.

You are my world. And if my world is gone I’ll carry on for Will, but my heart will be closed off to any future romance because no matter how great she is, she’ll never be you.”

I know, right? Quite a soliloquy if I do say so myself. I looked at her with a smile, confident I had just bowled her over with my passion. And then, thinking I knew the answer already and that it mirrored mine, I asked her if she’d remarry if something ever happened to me. Her response?

“Oh hell yes. Sorry, but I love Olive Garden and I’ll be needing some breadsticks.”

Happy freaking anniversary.

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Dinner is Ruined

Kids make a lot of things really great. Will has blessed us in so many ways I could never list them all here. Kids really are the best and I’m so lucky to have him.

But kids also wreck some shit you used to really like.

MJ and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on Friday night. My parents volunteered to watch Will which meant we had a night all to ourselves. And we planned to spend it doing the things we loved to do before kids—the old dinner & a movie.

Our dinner reservations were at a very upscale restaurant for 7:30 p.m., followed by a 9:40 p.m. showing of Sherlock Holmes 2. For people who are usually in bed by 9:30, it was a pretty aggressive itinerary. The restaurant was very nice. It was at a quaint, historic inn with an extensive menu and a very—let’s call it “foo-foo” atmosphere. Honestly I always feel more than a little out of place at places like that, but I wanted to give MJ something nice.

As all parents know, going out to eat isn’t nearly as enjoyable with kids. First of all you have to make sure you go to a “kid place.” And that means nothing fancy. When you get there you launch into this routine that puts you on edge until you leave again. You have to get your kid past the front entrance where all the arcade games are. God help you if you forget quarters. Then the coat needs to come off and you need to sit the kids on the inside so you can cordon them off from the general public.

Suddenly timing becomes unbelievably essential. You have to place your kid’s order first, but not too soon. You want your kids to get their food about 10 minutes before yours comes. Any later and your kid will be done eating when your food arrives, meaning you won’t get to eat at all. Or if you do, it’ll be at the expense of your spouse as you tag-team caretaking duties between bites.

All in all if you get in and out as quickly as possible without a major incident, it’s been a good night.

Fast forward to Friday night. MJ is dressed to the max looking like a model and I’m in a jacket, dress shirt and slacks. We sit down, order drinks and bask in the glow of the candlelight and romantic ambiance. A few minutes go by. Then five. Then 10 minutes pass. Suddenly the internal parent alarm inside my head started flashing red.

“Where the hell is the waitress? We have to order,” I said in a huff.

MJ told me to relax. That dinner at fine dining places like this one are more like events that last for hours. She told me we should take the time to unwind and enjoy each other’s company. And she was right. Absolutely, positively right.

But it didn’t matter.

The longer it took to order, get our appetizers and get our food, the more irate and annoyed I became. I couldn’t relax or take it easy. I just had the unyielding need to hurry things up and get going. It’s been pounded into me as a parent for almost four years, and I don’t think I can escape it anymore.

We ended up missing the movie because dinner took so long. As it turns out, that was a blessing in disguise. We drove home, flirted a little, got to bed and—well, I think you know what happened next. Yup, I came back from the bathroom to find my wife snoring and sound asleep. Which makes sense. After all, it was almost 10:30 p.m.

Oh well. That’s part of the territory when you become a parent.

In closing, I want to tell my beautiful wife that just because I now feel the need to rush through meals, doesn’t mean I love her any less. In fact, I love her more now than ever. But I have to admit, our wedding day was one of the best of my life. Have a look.

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