She left dog-eared copies of those stories in my bathroom and kept dropping subtle hints like, “I want to go to Ireland, Paris, or Prague for our 20th anniversary.”
As it turns out, I was going to college then and on track to graduate in the spring. My finals were the week of May 5.
She understood, but I could tell it hurt her deeply that we couldn’t go somewhere special for what the gift makers call our China Anniversary.
Then, five years later for our Silver Anniversary, the phone company planned a rollout for a new ticketing system. I had worked the previous 18 months on the design and testing team.
As you might have guessed, the rollout was the week of May 5, and I was one of the lead trainers responsible for training hundreds of employees. It appeared that I’d be a no show for our 25th anniversary too.
This one was a little harder for Jilda to swallow. But then the good-fortune fairy stepped in and convinced the team to rollout the software at a later date.
I booked two tickets to Ireland leaving on the first of May. Early the next morning our plane descended through clouds as grey as a gun barrel and touched down on the Emerald Isle.
We deplaned, collected our luggage, loaded the bags into the rental car, and crawled in ready to drive away. It took a second before realizing the steering wheel was on the other side of the car.
Fortunately the gearshift, clutch, breaks and gas pedal were in the right order so after a few moments of orientation, we were on the road.
I thought to myself, “How hard can it be to drive on the wrong side of the road? I’m from rural Alabama, we drive on the wrong side of the road all the time.”
We spent the next few days zigzagging across one of the most beautiful places on earth. We played music in pubs, feasted on what the locals ate, and took what seemed like a million pictures.
We spent our 25th Anniversary in a small cottage by the sea, watching a fog as thick as gauze roll in and listening to the sound of the surf.
Earlier this year we renewed our passports and began discussing what we wanted to do for out 40th next year, and going back to Ireland was at the top of the list.
We’ve been putting back money for the trip, but emergencies always seem to nip away at those funds.
We’ve fretted a little about the cost of traveling abroad and Jilda suggested that we could stay here and maybe go to the beach.
I told her that we’d have the money by May. Even if I have to sell a kidney, or raid our 401k, we’re going someplace remarkable for this anniversary.
A few of our friends have been married 40 years, but some of them must count the years from previous marriages.
I consider it a miracle that I’ve made it 40 years without waking to find an icepick jammed into my temple. Lord knows at times I’ve deserved it.
The road is long and there are always rough patches. That’s why I think it’s important to celebrate the milestones.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.