Sunday, December 26, 2010

I ought to be in pictures: Ok, so I cheated just a bit

Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Amateur photog that I am, I have taking well over a thousand photos this year, 999+ of them of other people. And of the two or three of me taken, they all seem to say: tired, old, fat, and tired again. Now, if this was last year, it would be easy. Despite 9 months of lost sleep and fretting, I looked pretty damn good on my daughter's wedding day, if I say so myself. What a happy day that was, for all of us. (Thanks, Joey/Jessica, and Linda, and Eric.)

But in 2010? Not so much.

Oct. 10, 1982
My husband and I have a tradition, though. Since Oct. 10, 1982, we have kept a photo record of our anniversaries. The idea came from the wedding gift of a dime store photo album from one of my mother's cousins, who gave us instructions to fill the album of photos taken on our wedding anniversaries, and looking back, we would be surprised at the stories the photos tell. That first picture was captured on a humid Georgia Sunday, and we dressed up in our rehearsal dinner clothes. I have written before that it looks to me like we are a couple a little unsure of the road we are traveling together. He holds me as if he will never let me go. I look like I could use a few pounds. What the picture doesn't show is the gnats flying around our faces, and the sadness we both felt, because my husband's father had had surgery to remove a necrotic brain tumor the day before.

Not all the Oct. 10ths between then and now have been quite so awful for our family, though one or two have been marked by loss. We've celebrated pregnancies, moves, new houses, even something as seemingly inconsequential as yet another year together, just muddling through. I often give photo albums as wedding gifts, being careful to choose ones that have at least 50 pages. A few years ago, I had to buy a new album, because our old one was filling up.

Oct. 10, 2010
On Oct. 10, 2010, a Sunday, we got up early and took our dog to church. Now smart as he is, Reagan is not quite up to all the bowing and posturing and kneeling we Episcopalians are known for, and as far as I know he couldn't tell a credence table from a lavabo bowl. But the date of our 29th wedding anniversary happened to be on the Feast of St. Frances, when everybody brings an animal to church for a blessing.

The photo is taken by our friend Claire, just a quick snap so we could have it for the album. When I look at it now, I search for traces of the skinny girl in the Princess-Di-style dress who wasn't so sure about marriage at the end of that first year. Now, this woman seems to understand much more (though there are still some things she has yet to learn), and her groom has loosened his grip a bit, sure now, that she is not going anywhere. She's put on a few more pounds than she needed back in 1982, but she's added some laugh lines, too, and I'd like to think those lines show that today she can giggle a little more freely than she did that first year.

The picture may not be worth a thousand words, but it is worth more than the 10,585 days together that it represents. We have grown up and older, loosened our grip of each other enough to grow into ourselves. And I hope that keeps on happening, as we move toward 7,665 more October 10ths, to 50 years, and beyond. 

And what I said before about another year together seeming inconsequential, that is not true, not true at all. Even though on some of those days we have lost time arguing at stoplights, have forgotten to give each other a kiss goodbye, just have nothing new to give each other at the end of the day except a burden, on other days we have watched our children tickle toes with the ocean, take hold of a new family, find their gifts. We have watched each other grow businesses, write books, fail, then try again. 

Though on some days we have buried our parents and dogs, on others we get to take our dog to church, or like today, watch him playing with our granddog in a new snow fall. And though we may end this day, both of us snoring side-by-side (as the dog snores on the floor next to us), every single one of our days is a prize.