Marilyn + David 4eva
Happy 30th anniversary, David
My wedding gown is lying in a crumpled heap on the couch and the cat is sitting on it.
I haven't laid eyes on it for 30 years. I thought it was in some kind of hermetically sealed wrapper, but turns out it was just laying there in a large box at my father's house. One of his upstairs bedrooms is being refurbished, and I am asked to take my wedding gown home, please. I can hardly refuse, even though it feels very strange to be doing so.
At home, I open the box gingerly, and there it is--very Princess Di, ivory-colored, long-sleeved, off-the shoulder, scoop neck; beaded at the bodice but quite plain otherwise, very full in the skirt and train, lots of little buttons running up the back and down the sleeves. There's so much of it-it's massive. The headpiece is an odd little cap with a long filmy veil.
The good news is, it still fits. The bad news is, what do I actually do with it? My husband David, daughter Cam and I stare at the heaping pile of fabric.
"Somebody might want it," I venture.
"Someone from the Eighties, maybe" Cam says definitively. "You need to call the Eighties and see if they want their dress back."
Both daughters nix the idea of ever wearing the dress, for which I don't blame them. It's so unlike today's sleek, strapless styles, and why shouldn't they have their own dresses, when the time comes? I remember picking it out at the famous Pricilla bridal shop. It was one of the first ones I tried on, and both my mother and I gave a little gasp when I put it on. It was the perfect dress for a 25 year-old me in 1985. I remember my mother sitting in that dressing room, never exhibiting the slightest doubt that I was doing the right thing.
Because she could have. Most sane parents would have, on account of the fact that David and I had a relatively short courtship before we got engaged. Short-like four weeks. David says that it's three weeks, but I maintain that it was certainly four. Not all that much time, when you come right down to it.
We met at a singles mixer at the now defunct Michael's on the Waterfront in Boston. I endured a painful hour and was calling it quits, when (this is really true), across the crowded room, I saw him, and he saw me. I couldn't believe I was finally meeting the kind of cute, smart, funny guy that I thought didn't really exist. We talked for at least five hours that night. When you meet the person you've been waiting for your whole life, there is a lot to catch up on.
So it seemed like absolutely the right thing to do three-or four-weeks later, when both of us, mutually, asked each other to get married. When we showed up at my parent's house, an engagement ring on my finger, my father uttered a phrase that can't be printed in this paper, starting with "You've got to be..." (he came around pretty quickly, though). My mother, however, was beside herself with joy from the start, although later she admitted that when we told her we had something to show her, she thought we were going to bring in an exotic animal-a goat, maybe.
So, 30 years, June 8. That's a long time to be with someone and still be interested in what they have to say, but we are. We work together much of the time too, and haven't throttled each other yet. David says that something I said early in our marriage really struck a chord with him, which is that it doesn't matter how well you treat everyone else in the world if you don't treat always your spouse with kindness and consideration. I don't remember saying this, but am happy to take credit for it. And that is how he has treated me, all these years. He also makes me laugh until I feel sick, which is a good thing.
A few years ago the minister who married us came to our church as a guest preacher. After the sermon we greeted him, introduced ourselves, and thanked him for his services at our wedding. He looked at us, with three lovely kids, and declared "It looks like it worked out!"
And it has. It has worked out so incredibly well. Which is why it doesn't really matter what I do with my wedding dress. It had its moment many years ago, and all the moments since then are what really count.
Happy anniversary, dear David. Thank you for everything you do for me. I don't know if we've got another 30 years in us, but I think we should give it our very best shot.
This column was published in the Daily News of Newburyport on June 8, 2015.
Together then, together now
I clutched my drink and scanned the room nervously. Older men in baggy grey suits. Women with frosted hair in stiletto heels. Everybody talking loudly and too fast. The one cute guy across the room engrossed in conversation with someone else.
I groaned inwardly. What was I doing here? It was March 25, 1984. I was at Michael's on the Waterfront in Boston at a singles party sponsored by something optimistically called Together Dating Service. I was 23, working in public relations, and not meeting anyone. My father, always intrigued by the new, had suggested I try a dating service and urged me to go to their singles event at Michael's that night: "What do you have to lose? C'mon, check it out."Eager to get out of the noisy room, I put my drink down (in those days you could do that) and headed for the pay phone to call my father.
"Dad, this is horrible!" I grumbled. "It's a bunch of old men. I'm leaving as soon as I finish my drink."
"Okay, fine. At least you tried it."
I squeezed back through the crowd and reclaimed my drink, glancing around one more time. Suddenly the cute guy I had seen across the room was next to me.
I don't remember the first thing we said to each other, but I know I found out that his name was David and he lived in Arlington. He was currently finishing a degree in public health. "I do a little dentistry on the side," he added.
Visions of illicit back-alley root canals flashed through my mind.
"Um, what? Do you have a license?"
David laughed and explained that he was in fact a dentist, but working part-time while he pursued his second degree. Well, it just so happened that my public relations job was at the Boston University School of Dentistry. I dealt with dentists and dental things all day, every day. I spoke dental fluently.
We talked for a long time at the restaurant, and then went out to my car and talked some more. It felt like we needed to catch each other up on everything that had happened in our lives before that evening. We talked about our families and where we went to school and what kind of restaurants we liked. We found out we both preferred coffee ice cream to chocolate, and ginger ale to Coke. He told me he spent every summer in Rockport and we figured we had probably walked by each other on Bearskin Neck at some point. Stunningly, we found out that we both drove Triumph TR-7s (among the weirdest and least reliable cars ever built, but their advertising slogan was "The shape of things to come." How appropriate).
We wandered around Quincy Market and into the now defunct Crickets for something to eat. I kept sneaking glances at his button-down shirt, khakis and topsiders and thinking, I know you. You're my person. You're the one, and now you're actually here.
We got ice cream (coffee, naturally) and wandered back to my car. We held hands and my heart soared high over Faneuil Hall. I slowed my steps so that the walk would take as long as possible and I could hold onto these moments between everything that came before and all that lay ahead.
We announced our engagement a month later. Yes, you read that right-a month. My mother said afterward that she suspected that something was up from the expression on our faces when we walked into her house that morning, but thought we had bought some sort of exotic animal, a goat perhaps. My father's first response was a phrase that can't be printed in a family newspaper, but started with "You've gotta be..." However, he recovered his composure quickly, and soon champagne was flowing.
My father was right. I had nothing to lose that night, and what I gained was my whole life-a husband who is my best friend, three amazing kids, and 34 years of shared coffee frappes.
This article was originally published in the Newburyport Daily News