Five years ago today, Drew asked me to marry him. I’ve told the proposal story a bunch of times, but for those who can’t get enough (or, you know, haven’t heard it before): pre-Jackson, we always had a Friday evening tradition of meeting up after work and getting shit-faced at Happy Hour somewhere and then eating a drunken dinner around 8 and then falling dead-asleep at like 9:30 with our contacts still in. Romance! Anyway, it was a Friday evening five years ago when Drew asked if I wanted to meet him for a walk in Central Park before getting shit-faced, and I was like, “Sure, why not?” At the time, we lived in Manhattan, about a ten-minute walk from the park (and Drew worked/still works about ten minutes from the park in another direction).
I had a week earlier given him my great-grandmother’s engagement ring, procured from my mother over the holidays, with instructions to have it sized and give it back to me “when he was ready.” Valentine’s Day was coming up, as was our vacation to Costa Rica a few weeks later, but I didn’t think Drew was the kind of guy to propose on either of those occasions, so when he asked me to meet him for a walk in the park, for a minute I did think, “Oh, this is it!” I remember taking extra care with my makeup and hair and I took a quick selfie before heading out the door, I guess just to document the occasion in case it turned into An Occasion. But it was so cold outside that, by the time I got to the park, all I was thinking about was getting warm and how I couldn’t feel my fingers and I’d totally forgotten the possibility of a proposal.
So, it was a surprise after all when we were walking along a bridge in the park and Drew pointed to something on the ground below and I turned to look and saw in big chalk letters: “Wendy, Will you marry me? – Drew”. I said yes, he put my great-grandmother’s ring on my finger, we kissed, and then we went and got shit-faced. But on fancy champagne instead of our usual tequila because we are romantic like that.
Yesterday, Drew reminded me that “tomorrow is the anniversary of our engagement,” and I said, “I thought it was today.” And he said, “No, I think it’s the 6th.” And then we had to look at a calendar — “It was 2009, right?” He asked. “Yeah,” I said, after thinking a second — and sure as shit, he was right.
I guess we have three anniversaries — Oh, Romance!: the day we met (May 5); the day we got engaged (today); and the day we were married (7/24). Oh, and then there’s the day we first talked on the phone (4/20), which Drew always has to remind me of because I forget, and the day I moved to New York… which I can’t really remember right now (September 30th? October 1st??). And then there’s the day we found out I was pregnant (2/10).
This spring will mark eight years since we met. Wait, let me do the math real quick. Yes! Eight years. And while I hope that is just a drop in the bucket and that we’ll have fifty or sixty more years together, eight is long enough that we are beginning to feel like we are, in fact, growing old together. Or, older. Eight years is long enough to begin feeling like different people than we were when we met. And it’s interesting to see how our changes as individuals change our relationship. And maybe marking time as we do with all these anniversary dates is just a way to remind ourselves of who we once were and how far we’ve come… and that it goes by fast. Maybe it’s just a good way to remind us to pause and be grateful.
Last weekend we took an overnight trip to an inn upstate. We left Jackson behind at home (not by himself) and on our walk to the subway to catch the Metro North at Grand Central a neighbor and his son saw us and the son asked where Jackson was. “He’s at home,” I said, “with a babysitter. We’re sneaking away to have a little time to ourselves.” The father grinned at us and said, “That’s great! Congratulations. That’s hard to do.”
Hard to organize, maybe. But worth it. And important. And fun.
We are different people now than we were when we met — we’re even different now than we were when we got engaged five years ago. And I’m still very much learning about the challenges on a long-term relationship and how to keep a marriage happy, but one thing I was reminded of again is to slow down occasionally, be grateful for what you have, and take time getting to know how the people you’ve become/are becoming fit together. That, and I can’t get shit-faced like I used to anymore and still function the next day. Romance.