I can not believe that since our wedding day, my husband and I have made 39 trips around the sun on Planet Earth together. The memories of this voyage float around my brain like pictures taken from an orbiting spacecraft.
His hair was long and brown then, and he had a goatee. That was the day my heart nearly stopped beating and time stood still—sort of like Maria in the scene, Dance at the Gym from the musical, West Side Story.
We had grown up just 40 miles from each other in New Jersey, but never met until that rainy February day in Menlo Park, California. It all seems so insane now, that less than a year after that first meeting, we married on the beach at Half Moon Bay.
Those early years were awash in watercolor hues painted in broad and spontaneous strokes. Cruising in our 1965 blue Plymouth Fury was all we needed to entertain ourselves. We camped in ghost towns in Nevada, rafted around Lake Tahoe, drank wine from a bota bag in the Sierras, ate bologna sandwiches on the beach and panned for gold in the creeks near the Mother Load. As long as we were together, we were happy.
Money was tight back then, but we didn’t care. It came in and went right back out again as we feasted on life and whatever came next. I remember once we paid the rent in pennies and another time we wrote a check to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District with no funds in the bank so we could cross the bridge and make it home. We had gone to Point Arena looking for abalone shells and not only found shells in great abundance, but also a live abalone whose meat we fed to the dog. At the time, we had no idea of the extraordinary price of the mollusk or how delicious it was.
A few years later, my decision to return to college led us to putting in long days and even longer weeks. Still, we managed to have fun when and where we could. And when my new skills and knowledge made it possible for us to start our own business, we did, with nothing but a dream, persistence and a small savings.
We moved 21 times in 39 years—across three time zones, to three different states on three coasts before returning to the place that we always considered home. We lived in a trailer park as well as an upscale home. Once, we thought we would not have anywhere to live at all. We owned brand new cars, and vehicles that were falling apart. We even drove one automobile that had its underpinnings held together with a coat hanger. When we lost the coat hanger and much of what it secured somewhere in the Nevada desert, we chugged and sputtered all the way home, laughing through a cloud of exhaust fumes.
Along our journey, we created a son who inherited our nomadic genes and traveled around the world to explore different cultures. Sometimes, I wish he would embrace the mainstream suburban life a bit more and settle down in a well-manicured neighborhood. But then, he is one of us, so why would he do that? We three seem to dance to the beat of our hearts—which is not always practical—or financially wise.
Now, on our 39th solar revolution, I look back at where we have been, ponder who we have become and get dizzy from how fast time has passed. We live a modest life surrounded by love and soft ocean breezes where each peaceful day melts into another dreamy night.
I’m always asked how we did it. How did we manage to stay together for 39 years in an era when some folks don’t stay together much more than 39 months, and in a state where many marriages don’t last 39 weeks?
I don’t know the answer to that. I only know that if I had one wish, it would be that we could have 39 more crazy trips around the sun together.