Anniversary celebration

By Rachael Phillips

Thirty-six years ago, we walked hand-in-hand around Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, just as we are right now this beautiful, frosty January morning.
Same location. Same people. Well, not exactly the same.
Both we and Indianapolis have changed since our wedding day. First, we have expanded. Great for the city. Not so great for us — although decades ago, this skinny unemployed secretary and pencil-shaped first-year medical student could have used a few dozen pounds. The years have been generous; we have accumulated that many and more.
Downtown Indy has grown in several ways. When we spent our two-day honeymoon there, the city center was known primarily for crumbling architecture and drive-by shootings. Now the giant Lucas Oil Stadium, gleaming hotels and office buildings dwarf us.
We pass by older edifices, restored to elegance, and watch visitors take horse-and-carriage rides. In 1975, we would not have done that without protective body armor, even if we’d had the money.
We’re still basically cheap, especially at the thought of paying a substantial fee to risk our lives and freeze our 50-plus buns in the cold. And when it comes to spending Christmas money, this old hippie buys new blue jeans at half price. A thrill 36 years ago. A thrill now.
The jeans are long, lean and cool. But they are not as comfortable as my favorites. No matter how well new jeans fit, they wrinkle and crinkle in the wrong places, pinching and cinching when I move. Not unlike a brand-new marriage.
As we promenade along the Circle, we remember when, as part of the “Hair” generation, I wore mine halfway down my back. Steve’s mother begged him to trim his shaggy Prince Valiant style for our ceremony.
She, our brave designated wedding planner, kept us hopping with to-do lists and details about essential premarital issues such as matching mint colors to our cake. My groom chafed. I proposed to elope (Steve convinced me this would not foster great family relations.) Little did we realize the wrinkling and crinkling of our life together, in the words of a top-40 song at the time, had only just begun.
I knew my dearly beloved liked to study at night, but the reality of a manual typewriter pecking away in our $97.50-per-month efficiency apartment at 2 a.m. did not sink in before I said, “I do.” My spouse discovered living with a left-handed woman messed with his view of the universe. And that my driving necessitated a mediator with Middle-East diplomacy credentials— and lots of extra insurance.
The crinkles and wrinkles continued as he set up his solo medical practice in Plymouth and our children were born. Unlike Clint and Claire Huxtable, we rarely slept. He fought flu plagues, delivered babies and was even asked to cure somebody’s sick cow. I changed a million diapers, washed them, then started all over the next day. Plus, our children suffered allergies to bedtime.
At night, the phone became a third spouse. My husband came and went so much, I developed a test to ensure my personal safety: if the fish-cold man climbing into bed with me at 3 a.m. was tall, thin and bearded, I could turn over and snooze until the next baby feeding. If he was short— Houston, we had a problem.
And so on. And so forth. He fought diabetes, cancer and heart disease. I fought dirty hands, bad manners and head lice. He cleaned wounds and stitched bodies.
I scrubbed our clothes and dryer after the three-year-old tossed purple crayons in with the Perma-press. We continued our hey-don’t-I-remember-you existence as my husband conducted sports physicals for hundreds of soccer teams and I watched every single one of them play every single game.
Before long, he was filling out marital forms for kids whose births he had attended and even delivering their babies. Our children promoted me to designated wedding planner and grandma-in-waiting.
With that kind of history, no marriage can remain stiff and unyielding. The longer we’ve worn it, the softer it’s grown, until it’s our very favorite thing.
Thirty-six years ago, we walked hand-in-hand around Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, just as we are right now this beautiful, frosty January morning.
Same location. Same people.
Well, not exactly the same.

Rachael Phillips, a former Plymouth resident and the 2004 Erma Bombeck Global Award winner, is a freelance writer whose novella “Ride with Me into Christmas,” part of “A Door County Christmas” collection, will be released in September 2010. Check out her website at www.rachaelwrites.com for more articles and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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