After surviving job layoffs, cancer, real estate snafus, and getting four kids through college, my husband and I started making plans for our seventeenth wedding anniversary.
No, it wasn't one of those magical numbers, like our twentieth or fiftieth. Yet given what we've muddled through, 17 years feels like a major milestone, especially because ours is a second marriage, a blended family of seven. (Five kids. You did the math right.)
"How about New York City?" I asked, trolling Expedia for hotel specials and Broadway shows. "We could take the train and spend the weekend."
"There's always Montreal," Dan said. "Or what about one of those bike trips on the West Coast? Here's one through the Redwoods."
We spent weeks fantasizing, pulling out the maps and guidebooks we've accumulated through the years. We even checked to see that our passports were up to date.
And then we both went to the dentist: Dan for a pesky tooth, me for a routine checkup that turned out to be not so routine after all. Dan ended up having a root canal. I am now saving for a bridge to replace the one I've had for the past 15 years, courtesy of a horseback riding accident that left me with six false teeth. We have dental insurance, but guess what? That pays for only half of what goes into our mouths. And, in the case of a bridge, our insurance tops out at $1,000, but the price of the bridge is greater than the cost of my car.
Yes, I'm about to park a Honda in my mouth.
So our wedding anniversary wasn't, in the end, about a romantic weekend in New York City or Montreal or San Francisco. We spent the day hiking the trails near our house, and the night camping on the couch in pajamas with a cheap bottle of Prosecco, some reasonable cheeses, and Netflix. It was fun -- and surprisingly romantic.
"Not a bad way to spend our Bridge and Crown Anniversary," I conceded.
"We can call this one our Porcelain and Gold Anniversary," Dan suggested, raising his glass to mine.
We can. Most of all, we can call ourselves lucky, honey, to still be together for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health.
And to our children I say: A marriage isn't about a wedding day or anniversaries. It's about making every moment better because you're together.