Our first trip together was the result of a wrong turn: we planned to visit Apple Hill on the way to South Lake Tahoe but ended up at the north shore of the lake, more than fifty miles from our original destination. Doug was a little embarrassed (it was our first date, after all), but the autumn day was crisp, the lake sparkling, and the Aspen trees glowing yellow. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant (not what I’d normally choose, but I was shy) for a late lunch before driving back interstate 80 to Sacramento. We talked and talked, unusual for each of us, being more the quiet types.
Our relationship had many starts and stops (are we work colleagues, “just friends,” or someone special?) over the next year or so, even keeping it very quiet due to work (we shared a major client through our jobs), wanting to be professional, whatever that means. We formally became a “couple,” going together to Doug’s firm’s annual Christmas party.
Two and a half years later, six months after Doug moved to New York City for his job, Christopher and I joined him. We had a tiny wedding on Martha’s Vineyard (despite the pouring rain) on this date thirty-three years ago. We were off to urban life (Manhattan) with the challenges (and opportunities) of high pressure careers and a five-year-old. What a long road from that first outing to Lake Tahoe.
Our marriage may be characterized more by roads not taken, unexpected turns, two steps forward and a few back, rather than a constant existence in one place. We almost circled California with our jobs (from the SF Bay Area, to Sacramento, to San Diego, and back to northern California); we took flyers on places like Austin, Texas; we put our toes in the waters of Boulder, spending short stints there before it became our current home.
The boys were troopers, changing schools, making new friends, adjusting when we took them on international trips (wanting to expose them to parts of the world so much less privileged than our daily lives). I wonder, though, where they would consider their childhood home?
I guess the exposure worked: Christopher and his family are in Italy for two and a half weeks and Alex is in France for the summer (currently working on a vineyard). They both embrace change with equanimity, delighting in new experiences, inviting us into their worlds.
We continue to take roads not taken, some familiar, others not so much, trying to build community, to remain healthy and active, and to give back to those less fortunate than us. Not always easy, not always sure of what we’re doing, always questioning what’s next, learning how to be together even now, many years after that gorgeous fall day in northern California.
When I think about our marriage, I realize, for us, it means adventures to plan, grandchildren to love, family and friends to connect, flowers to plant, finding a community in which to become engaged. We have been fortunate in this life together. Guess we’re stuck with one another!