Today, Lintilla and I celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. As time passes counting the years, marking the milestones becomes an ever-increasing source of wonderment.
It does not escape me that I was 22 years old the day we wed. That means that this time next year, I will have spent more time in my life with Lintilla as my wife than without. That just feels right to me, because my heart cannot imagine any other way to be. I know at one time I was something else besides her husband, but I can no longer fathom such an existence.
That kid, that lonely, silly, unfashionable, hyperactive young man was not me – just a child using my body until I could become “me”. That transformation began when I stood at the front of Blakemore United Methodist Church with my bandmates beside me – and looked down the aisle.
Approaching was an old man who really didn’t care for me much; his face was a mixture of sadness and frustration. To his credit, he followed through with grace and dignity.
On his arm was my best friend- only different. This woman who was “one of the boys”, who had spent so many nights with me and my friends drinking beer at The Boro, shooting pool at Amy’s, participating in belching contests while we hung out at my brother’s place watching movies – she walked down the aisle, looking comfortingly familiar, yet different.
She was stunningly beautiful. Not that I hadn’t consered her beautiful before, but this?
A part of me, deep down, leapt for joy upon seeing her, in spite of myself trying to look cool.
So many years have passed since July 10, 1987. It’s a little disturbing that most of that time is now considered “history”; it is disturbing to me that even the 90’s are now considered “a long time ago”.
We’ve seen three stock market crashes, four recessions, five presidents, the reported death of liberalism, and the reported death of conservatism. The Berlin wall fell, China ascended. Japan went from ominous financial power to just a fellow troubled country. Our country’s biggest threat dissolved into nothing, and a threat we really mostly didn’t see coming wiped out 3,000 lives and destroyed part of the NY skyline.
Nashville grew, and grew and grew. Changes came: the area of town that used to be known for salvage stores (we bought our first furniture at Turrentine’s) is now a kind of local ethnic United Nations. (I consider this an improvement!) Downtown went from a place you didn’t go at night unless you wanted to catcall the hookers, go to an “adult” theater, and step over bums, to a thriving core filled with annoying urban hipsters (part of me preferred the hookers and bums).
It used to be that for sports, you went to a Sounds game, or to TSU or Vanderbilt, else you travelled to Knoxville.
Now, Nashville not only has hockey (HOCKEY!), but an NFL team. The freaking NFL is in Nashville. And our team went to the Superbowl in its first “real” season in town.
As a city, we’ve gone collectively from wanting to be Memphis, to wanting to be Atlanta, to wanting to be some combination of Portland, Oregon and Charlotte, NC.
Lintilla and I have gone from two young people making minimum wage, starting out in a 700 square foot apartment in Murfreesboro, with a waterbed from Wonderful Waterbeds in Hickory Hollow (remember that place?) and not much else, to two second-shift state employees living in Paragon Mills, to buying our first house (back to Murfreesboro!), eventually getting a bed with a real mattress. We’ve had horrible auto accidents, and even more horrible family losses.
We’ve “moved back home”, accepting the whispers that we couldn’t make it on our own, knowing we were really doing so to take care of an ailing old widow.
We’ve felt the sadness and frustration of infertility, and shared indescribable joy as we stood before judge Muriel Robinson on two different occasions, officially adding our two wonderful children to our family.
We’ve felt the pride and joy as our careers advanced, and the fear and despair as we watched everything we had burn to the ground. We’ve experienced all the joys and pains of raising children, planning and fretting, fretting and planning. Most of our days now are a haze of activity, and the time is passing so quickly.
We have seen and been through so much.
Does she get on my nerves sometimes? You bet. Am I a jackass sometimes? Most definitely.
And yet, even today, (even this morning), when she walks into the room, a part of me, a part deep inside that I still scarcely understand, leaps for joy.
When I see my friend, my companion, my lover, my advisor, I cannot help but thank the Lord that He has allowed me to love her all these years, and amazingly, surprisingly, she has loved me. I am certainly not deserving of such a kind, beautiful person as lifetime companion.
I love you, Lintilla. How about another 22 years?
I might even get us a waterbed for our 44th anniversary, if I can find one. Whether we’ll be able to get out of it at that age is another question.