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 5, 2019

A quarter century together

Together on the Great Wall
Today marks a milestone I didn't think I'd see: SG and I celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. This is us on the Great Wall of China, when we visited there in October 2003. We were married on March 5, 1994, in freefall. I posted a picture of that event here.  But now I'd like to reminisce a little bit on how we got here.

It wasn't supposed to happen at all, since we were both in our fifties when we married, and looking forward from that vantage point towards today made it seem improbable that, even if we stayed together, we would live that long. Of course, when you're only fifty, seventy-five seems a long ways away, and very ancient. As I look at us today, however, we are still very active and in relatively good health. I don't think we'll be able to reach 2044, our golden anniversary date, but stranger things have happened. Do I really want to live to be 101?

We met each other online in 1992, both of us skydivers, with me at the beginning of my career, having started jumping in September 1990, and he hadn't made a skydive in a few years, living in San Francisco and working full-time. At the time, there was a skydiving news group, where I encountered some of his writing, and I was instantly smitten. After many aborted tries to make contact, we finally did. We carried on with emails and then phone calls for quite a while before finally making the decision to meet in person. He flew from San Francisco to Denver on that fateful day many years ago. It was NOT love at first sight, though: we were both surprised at the physical reality of each other. After so many months of imagination, and some pictures that we exchanged (his was so old that he had flowing locks of hair), and me in my skydiving gear.

Today it's not unlikely that someone would meet through the internet, but back then it was unusual. There were no websites at all, much less sites dedicated exclusively to dating. Today I know several happy couples who met that way. We were ahead of our time, and we visited each other's homes a few times. Eventually, SG made the decision to give notice at work and move to Boulder, my home town. Although he stayed briefly with me, it was obvious that we would need to get to know one another with each of us having our own space. He moved into a friend's spare apartment and thus began our courtship.

He visited me at the Drop Zone where I would skydive, and eventually got himself back into the sport with some inexpensive gear. In 1993, when my mother died, I inherited a little money and bought him some new gear, and he was then back into skydiving. He would pretend to be a student in freefall, while I practiced learning how to catch him and all the other things an instructor would have to do. By the time we got married in freefall, I was almost good enough to pass the rigorous course to get certified. I failed in my first attempt, but passed the second one.

But there were so many things we shared other than skydiving. In my job, I traveled internationally, and he accompanied me on some of those journeys. We visited China several times, and eventually we spent more than a month together in Beijing when I took a temporary position at the Higher Education Center, helping to edit scientific journals and improve the English translations. He explored the city every day while I worked. We had been provided with cell phones (tiny little things) that allowed us to stay in contact with one another during the day. Every weekend we were taken on excursions to see the sights, such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

Although he had a prestigious position in San Francisco, it was a different story when SG tried to find something similar in Boulder. He was now older, and I can attest to the discrimination against older workers starting in a new job. He ended up working in temporary positions through an agency, and it was enough to get him by, as a few of them were for long periods of time. However, as soon as he was able to get on early Social Security, he took it and no longer had to search for nonexistent jobs.

We spent many idyllic vacations around the world, as well as skydiving trips to places we enjoyed. Our life together was not without friction, and frankly the first several years were difficult. But we muddled through, both of us wanting badly to make it work, and eventually things settled into a very comfortable existence. He took over most of the housework and my job paid the bills. In 2002, when my son died, he supported me as I grieved.

We decided that when I retired, we would move to the West Coast, since he was most comfortable there, and I knew that my long-time employment in Boulder would mean that I would need to move away in order to actually stop being on call to my former boss. We decided to take a road trip from Boulder to the coast in 2006, trying to decide just where we might want to move. We explored from northern California to Oregon, and finally looked at Washington state. Bellingham seemed to have everything: proximity to the mountains and right on Bellingham Bay, a beautiful place, so we thought we'd start there.

That was eleven years ago, when we moved from Boulder with a U-Haul and a car, using our cell phones (much fancier ones this time) to communicate with one another. We arrived in Bellingham in April 2008 and have been here ever since. This place feels like home now, to both of us, and we have a full life together. My world is complete with my beloved, and now that we have been together for so long, I can't imagine life without him. Fortunately, I don't have to. We are both grateful for the serendipity that brought us together and the life we share.

And with that, I have finished another post, this one more of a chronicle than a ponder, with the amazing feat of having reached our silver anniversary uppermost in my mind. The day is bright, he sleeps beside me, and my tea is long gone. It's getting to be time to start the rest of my day. I do so hope that this week will bring you lots of love to light your way forward. Be well until we meet again next week.


gigi-hawaii said...

This post was such a treat, because you rarely write in detail about your husband. Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary.

Linda Reeder said...

I like it when you fill in a few more details of your life together with your husband. I think it's cool that your 25th year and our 50th year coincide.
Wishing you both a very happy anniversary. Celebrate for the whole month of May. Feel special. You deserve it.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Anniversary!! You are indeed a special couple:)

Marie Smith said...

Such a wonderful story of love which you both worked for. Happy day to you both.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan and Happy Anniversary to you and Smart Guy! Wow, what a neat photo that is of you two on the Great Wall. You have a great story. Thank you for sharing it! Have a wonderful day! John

William Kendall said...

Quite a story! Happy Anniversary!

Elephant's Child said...

A very, very Happy Anniversary to you both.

Tabor said...

Marriages like gardens need time, patience and nurturing to survive and I am so glad that both of you did this!!

Galen Pearl said...

Happy anniversary! What a great story. Strange isn't it, all the seeming coincidences that line up to get us to our present moment? I didn't know that story of how you got to Bellingham. A leap of faith (great put for a skydiver--bet you never heard that one before), like the one I took moving here to Portland. And here we are.

Gigi said...

I adore that photo of you love birds! I recall that you had met in some way, shape or form, via skydiving but didn't know the whole story. Thanks for sharing. Happy Anniversary to you both!

Red said...

Congrats on the 25th. My Dad remarried at 63 and got close the 30 years. Since you're having so much fun go for it!

Rita said...

You just never know what life will bring. Happy anniversary to you and Beloved. If you hadn't both been determined to work things out you wouldn't be where you are today. That is awesome!! :)

Friko said...

Happy anniversary and many more of them. Why should you not reach a ripe old married age? How ever long it lasts make the most of it.

C-ingspots said...

How wonderful for you both! Happy anniversary and congratulations...may you share many more to come. :)

Glenda Beall said...

I was so happy to read this post. Happy 25th anniversary! I loved your love story. It reminded me that Barry and I celebrated our fortieth anniversary in a big way because I guess I wasn't sure we would make 50 years together. He had a history of heart trouble. And we didn't make it to 50. We were married 45 years before he passed away.
You seem to still be so much in love, and I love that. He gave up much to come to be with you in Boulder and I know how hard it is for an older person to get a job. Ageism is rampant in this country. I am reading This Chair Rocks, a manifesto against ageing. I saw this when my husband and my sister tried to go back to work later in life. Enjoy every minute you two have together and I know you are grateful for each other.

Junk Journal Penpals said...

Congratulations D-Jan. I'm so glad you've found happiness with your beloved.

troutbirder said...

Its all good. You started with friendship and grew into love the best kind. Being a till death do us part kind of guy and knowing my dad and all my uncles and aunts lived well into the nineties. When my dad the cheap banker pass on at 97 he had 500 dollar in his pocket and was waiting for his friend who was ten years younger to pic him up. She had wheels and a great sense of humor. Perhaps someday i'll luck out and emulate as I adjust to living alone...:)