Today is our 8th wedding anniversary. If we were dogs, we’d be celebrating 56 tail-wagging years together, but we’re simply humans, so we’ll have to settle for 8. They’ve been wonderful years, and in this season of gratitude, I’m more than grateful for our time together.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned in our eight married years, none is more potent that the power of family. You know my story, how I grew up as the surprise addition in my own quiet and independent family, and how that fact has shaped much of who I am. But that’s old news now; not forgotten, just tucked away in the savings account within my own bank of memories. The family I married into—your family—is much different; boisterous, expressive, accepting, loving. Five Calamity Janes and four crazy Tomcats (two now sadly gone), all ruled over by a grand matriarch who still watches over us all from heaven. And then there are the other “outlaws:” my new brothers and sisters, all (more or less) my own age, all friends and full members of the Shenanigans Club.
And of course, there are the next generations, the ones rising up through the ranks, the ones who call us Kiki and Geep. I have to admit that I’ve lost count, but I think when all is said and done, we’re somewhere north of fifty these days. I never imagined myself in such a social sea, but even when I need to cling to my own little island for a moment of peas and carrots, I’m allowed to do just that without rancor or judgement. By now, you know I could never stay away too long because I would surely suffer from a bad case of FOMO. I would never be able to miss out on all the fun.
I’ve also learned that you have more spunk than the Energizer Bunny, that little, pink drum-banging rabbit who outlasts everyone at the party. Sometimes, I just sit back and watch you work the room, gayly chatting with everyone, finding out where they went to high school and at what point your gene pools undoubtedly overlap. It’s still a mystery to me how anyone can be so tirelessly “on” all the time, but I do admire your stamina and your ability to forge new connections and friendships. I admit there are times when my survival instinct kicks in and I give you that “it’s time to go” look which really means you now have forty-five overtime minutes of chat to go before we finally say, “Good night.”
We arrived in Chestertown almost twelve years ago, and, yes, I know it came as a bit of a shock and a surprise when I decided to plant my flag here. You had dreams of a beach house, but you rose to the occasion and have made our front porch the talk of the town. Literally! And while I was fortunate enough to encounter a few friends from former phases of my life, it took you a while to find your girl posse. But just look at you know! Friends galore and a whole new universe to explore and entertain. Think of all the boxwood trees you’ve made!
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I love you. They say marriage is a roller coaster: you know, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” all the ups and downs of two separate souls trying to make a go of it in this crazy world. Well, that may or may not be true, but this I do know: when I married you eight years ago today, I had no idea how lucky I was, or how you would change my life for better. Thank you!
I’m not going anywhere, but as you know by now, I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. His new novel “This Salted Soil,” a new children’s book, “The Ballad of Poochie McVay,” and two collections of essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”), are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is Musingjamie.net.