I turned 36 a few days ago. I’m not one to make a spectacle when it comes anniversaries of my birth so I was perfectly happy to pepper in low-key festivities throughout the seemingly regular day. My kids and husband presented me with a delicious cake from Whole Foods and we dined on take-out sushi as we talked about vacation plans and worked on our spring and summer bucket list. I opened my gifts and was pleased to see that Clay and I’s tradition of presenting each other with inappropriate cards has survived another year.
After dinner we asked Alexa to play 90s music and I showed my kids the sweet choreography to You Got It (The Right Stuff) and wowed Clay with my rendition of Bitch (I’m pretty sure he fell even more in love with me that night). It may have just been the wine but singing and dancing in the kitchen that night was the most alive I’ve felt in weeks.
The following night, we went to a Sister Hazel concert about an hour away in Leesburg, Virginia, which is considered one of the most picturesque towns in America. We saw them perform at Tally Ho Theater with a bunch of other 30-40 year-olds who had babysitters watching their kids at home. The drink special was champagne, which I drank as we sang along to Change Your Mind, All for You, Your Winter, Champagne High and more. It seemed fitting to celebrate my 36th birthday seeing a band whose lyrics I had taped to my dorm room walls.
I met Clay when I was 18 – turning 36 means that we’ve now been together for half of my life. Half of my life! We’ve been through a lot since the days when I artistically wrote the lyrics of Champagne High after one of our break-ups (yes – we parted ways briefly a few times in college). I once had a friend tell me that she always feels sorry for girls/women who marry their first great love. She isn’t alone in her sentiment – there is certainly no shortage of articles about why doing so is a terrible idea. But it hasn’t been terrible for us – it’s been wonderful, crazy, sometimes maddening, beautiful, and exhilarating after all these years.
In some ways, I wonder if Clay and I just happened to get lucky. As we navigated our 20s, we grew up together rather than apart. Back then, I would’ve said that it was because we were so in love that nothing could take us down but now that I have the maturity that being in my 30s affords, I can see that there is probably at least some luck involved. Neither one of us is the person we were when we exchanged our vows in front of family and friends. Since then we experienced war, Army-induced separations, children, death, and all of the not-so-great aspects of life that try their hardest to balance out the most gorgeous and breathtaking moments. And we not only survived – we thrived and did so together.
“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.” Big Fish
Time moves a lot faster than it did 18 years ago and I can only imagine that it will only continue to pick up speed with each passing year. I just hope that I am as lucky during the next 36 years.