I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our twentieth anniversary

Getting married in freefall, 5 May 1994
Well, tomorrow is a day I didn't think I'd ever see: the twentieth anniversary of the freefall wedding that Smart Guy and I celebrated—and we are still together! Happy, even. After having experienced three failed marriages by the time I was thirty, I had pretty much given up any thought that I would ever have a twentieth wedding anniversary. Guess I just had to find the right person.

I met Smart Guy through skydiving, and when we decided to marry a couple of years after we met, it was inevitable that it would be in the air. The picture shows us in freefall over Loveland, Colorado. I was wearing my wedding "dress" with rainbow grippers (those things skydivers grip in order to make formations). We exchanged vows before we got on the airplane, but in Colorado you can state when and where you will be married and you don't need an official to officiate. On our wedding certificate, we stated that we would be married when we passed through 5,500 feet while in freefall on May 5, 1994, and that's all we needed to do. And there we are, right then passing through that altitude. Our "best man" was the cameraman.

I was 51 years old on that day, and it seemed impossible to imagine that I would still be skydiving twenty years later, but I am. Smart Guy has probably already made his last skydive, and my last one is not far away, either. This is my last season, which I've decided for various reasons, not the least of which is that I'd like to choose to stop rather than being forced to because of injury. My knees are rather essential items for me to continue to be active, and they are not in the best shape these days. That's one reason, but there are others, too. While I still have the wherewithal, I'd like to pursue some other directions in life.

But that day twenty years ago, it was simply wonderful. We didn't have what you would call a traditional day, but it was just right for us. No cake, no reception other than the congratulations of our skydiving peers, who were around to enjoy the day's blue skies, and each other. It has been a very interesting and educational journey. I realize now that my previous marriages failed more because I didn't know how to compromise, and because I had been led to believe that if you weren't "in love," that first stage of infatuation, it was because the person wasn't right, and I went looking for that state again and again.

Now I realize that marriage should be a combining of two lives into another one altogether. Both of us think that we have changed more than the other, and that's probably true: I am definitely a different person today, but so is he. We do things for each other because we really like to experience the resulting happiness. What happens to one of us happens to the other. Although we are not likely to have a fiftieth wedding anniversary, we might easily have another decade or two together, enjoying our life from day to day.

Anniversaries are a time to take stock and give thanks for the past year, decade, or longer, don't you think? I am a healthier and happier person today because of my partner. All I have to do is look in the fridge at the wonderful food he has prepared for me to know part of the reason for that. He also doesn't tell me how to spend my days and supports me in my endeavors. We have stimulating conversations and other things we like to do together, but we also have our own pursuits. For example, my friend Judy is my movie companion because I like movies that don't interest him, or he would rather see it later in our home than be subjected to the crowds and extreme volume of the movie theater.

I am a social exerciser, and he is a solitary one. If I didn't attend classes and go hiking with a group, I wouldn't get much exercise, while he is self-directed and walks by himself. Occasionally we will go out together, and tomorrow is one of those days. I'm going to take him to one of my favorite outdoor places and we'll celebrate our special day together. As you can see, skydiving has given me much, much more than simply a sport. It really changed my life, because I met a wonderful life partner through it.
After our tenth anniversary skydive
Ten years ago, we jumped together again, although we weren't in Loveland but in Longmont, Colorado. We sure have had a wonderful journey to here, and tomorrow we'll enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest lushness together. Life just is never quite what one expects; although I never expected to enjoy sharing my life with such a great guy, I'll take it. I'm happy. Thank you.

18 comments:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wow.

Gigi said...

An early Happy Anniversary! You are a beautiful couple.

Linda Reeder said...

Congratulations DJan and Smart Guy. Thanks for showing the picture of the two of you together. As your blog friends we know all about you,but obviously your partner prefers his privacy and anonymity and you guard and respect that.
Here's hoping you get some sun breaks as you enjoy your day together tomorrow.

Keicha Christiansen said...

Happy Anniversary! Definitely a milestone worth celebrating. Have a great day tomorrow.

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

I LOVED this post. My husband had two failed marriages and I am his third... he is my second. We met when I was 43, lived together for ten years and married when I was 53. Couldn't be a better marriage. He is not at all social and I am, but only a wee bit more than he. I too spend lots of time on Facebook. Totally enjoyed hearing your wedding story... XOX

gigihawaii said...

Congratulations to you and your husband. I totally get what you said and I agree with you 100%.
Aloha from Hawaii.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Anniversary you two! I hope you have a wonderful day of reflection and togetherness doing whatever makes you happy. Your Smart Guy sounds like a heck of a guy! You don't mention him often but he must be a wonderful person:)

Olga Hebert said...

A beautiful story. happy Anniversary.

The Furry Gnome said...

Congratulations DJan. Pretty unique memory there!

Elephant's Child said...

Happy, happy smiles.
Congratulations - to you both.

Arkansas Patti said...

Congrats on your anniversary. What an unusual wedding but obviously one that securely tied the knot.
I really like how you do not have to be in each other's hip pockets with identical interests to have a sound and happy marriage. You give each other room but are there for the big things. Well done.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I'm so happy to read this. Glad you found one another and figured out how to make it work. And I hope you have another decade or two to enjoy your happiness. Happy anniversary!

Red said...

Happy anniversary! Along the way we learn things that help in a relationship. So for this one, learning to sky dive helped. Dad remarried at 63 and saw his 30th anniversary! Enjoy your walk.

KH said...

Congratulations!!!

amanda | wildly simple said...

What a wonderful tribute to 20 years, to the past, present, and future.
Happy anniversary, DJan & Smart Guy!!
A fine example of partnership - thank you for sharing your experience & wisdom.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, today's the day--Monday! I'm so glad I read your posting this afternoon. It's 2:00 here so it's noon there in the Pacific Northwest and the two of you are probably getting read to celebrate at one of your favorite places or are already there. I wish you many more years of togetherness and joy. Peace.

Rita said...

That is so sweet! Happy anniversary! He has to be a wonderful fellow...because you love him. :)

Retired English Teacher said...

DJan, these are words to live by for any married couple: "Now I realize that marriage should be a combining of two lives into another one altogether." I love that quote. I am going to write it down so I don't forget it.

Congratulations to you and Smart Guy. I love your story.