For the past two days, my phone has beeping, chirping, and buzzing as family, friends, and coworkers alike attempt to do the impossible: remind me that I’m married. See, I had the misfortune/stupidity to be the woman forever known as She Who Forgot Her FIRST Anniversary. That’s right, my FIRST. I didn’t even have the good sense to bluff. Thirteen years ago tonight, my beloved told me that he’d be home early. But why, I asked. Well, I thought I’d take you out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. Oh, I said. Oh.
Joel and I met during my last year of university/his first year of graduate school. We were friends first, doing exciting things like going to the post office or studying for exams. Then, fate intervened, namely in the form of my Subaru with a manual transmission. I needed a way to get said car back to Chicago after it delivered me and all my crap to Bridger, and Joel was one of the few people with the time and ability to drive said wee beastie of a car. I then left for the Peace Corps and Outer Mongolia, Joel returned to finish graduate school. For the next year, we sent letters and tapes back and forth.
Despite my decree that I wouldn’t get married, pretty much everyone I knew said that any man that would wait that long for you is worth marrying. Even Hilda loved him, although I think that has more to do with his willingness to camp on her front lawn under the watchful eye of John Wayne and the restful screeches or a peacock. So thirteen years ago today, we drug those nearest and dearest to us up to Red Lodge, braved an almost rain shower, a long line of horn-bipping Gold Wings, and pig races at Bear Creek and promised to love, honor, and obey, until death do us part. (For the record, check your wedding vows, because I was more than a little stunned to learn that “obey” was still used. Pastor Woody was so amused at my horror that I was the last bride to whom “obey” was applied in any marriages he performed.)
That explains everything, doesn’t it, or at least how we came to many years of wedded bliss. Well, sort of.
What you don’t know is that Joel is the Austin-based support team of Bridger Vet Clinic. He holds down the fort–and the puppy, Eleanor–when I’m in Montana. He never complains about my absence, unfailingly picks me up at the airport regardless of my flight’s late arrival time, and still surprises me with yellow roses. He knows that the ringing phone is often the clinic, that if we’re going to go on vacation this year then he’s going to have to plan it, and that if he wants something for dinner it’s probably best if he makes it himself. He researches possible healthcare providers for me, listens to some bad and worse ideas, and has yet to whinge about me being only partially present even when I am in Austin with him. For anything I’m able to do, a lot of the credit goes to Joel.
And while I love you, sweetie, that “obey” thing is never ever ever going to happen. But you already knew that.