Any anniversary causes you to pause and reflect, to look back, take stock. Wedding anniversaries are no different. What stands out in my memory about that evening 12 years ago, surrounded by a panoramic view of my beloved New York City, was that everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. In that sense, our wedding was a spectacular success. The happy bar-tending staff triumphantly presented my brand new husband and me with the last bottle of wine in the house, informing us that, to the great chagrin of the management, we had managed to drink the bar dry. As you can imagine, it was a merry evening.
But was it, as love songs and chick flicks and flowery iambic pentameter would have you believe, the best day of my life?
Our wedding took a village. Many of our wedding gifts were the donated talents of our mucho talented friends, including my dress and our wedding photographs. But despite getting by with the help of our friends, we still had a ton of rushing around to do on the day. One of my husband’s best men declared, at 10 am on the morning of our wedding, that he didn’t have a shirt to wear. We had boxes of grass to pick up for centerpieces, orchids to buy, place cards to write out, hurried photographs to take. Without the benefit of any kind of rehearsal, we were marching blindly down the aisle and hoping that the music was cued properly. My poor mother, sidled with her control freak daughter, had had no say in any of our plans, and was unable to travel to be with me before the wedding. She saw me in my wedding dress for the first time as we were hurriedly trying to organize the family for photographs. She wanted to stop to talk to me, to comment on how I looked. I am pretty sure that I barked at her to hurry up, that there was no time to talk, the light was fading.
So, Mom, I am sorry for that. I like to think on the best day of my life I will be a little less stressed out. And I certainly like to think that on the best day of my life I won’t be mean to my mother.
My sister, roped into chaperoning and waiting for deliveries, had to cut short her own prep time. As she showered and attempted to contort herself into shape wear in record time, I pleaded with her to hurry. Sorry, sis. I hope on my best day I don’t have to confront my spanx-tied sibling trying to apply make-up, dodging hipsters while running through Union Square.
Wedding day jitters prevented me eating. I hope that on the best day of my life I enjoy every mouthful, preferably of a bacon cheeseburger and a plate of salty fries.
My newly minted husband made a touching speech. My father overcame his own anxiety to make a very funny one. I danced with my husband, I danced with my dad. But I spent the rest of the evening mingling and thanking and smiling and making small talk with lots of people who had flown or driven lots of miles. I didn’t dance at all. I hope that on the best day of my life I dance more.
The next day, exhausted and bewildered, we set off on a much-anticipated honeymoon. In the backseat of a taxi we both had minor panic attacks that we hadn’t said good-bye to our parents. We were flying across the world to Australia. My new in-laws were flying back to England and my family were driving back to Boston and we couldn’t remember if we’d had time to thank them or say goodbye. So to our families, thank you. I hope that on my best day I don’t forget to say thank you. Or good-bye.
No, my wedding day wasn’t the best day of my life. Every day I wake up and the man I married is next to me is another best day. The day the third stick turned pink after 2 years of heartbreak, that was a best day. When my boys stomp like baby elephants into our room and clamber and climb into bed with us, that is a best day. Meeting my mother and my sister at the airport when they come to visit, that is a best day. Laughing with good friends until I have to catch my breath, that is a best day. When my son tells me “I love you more than you can imagine”, that’s a best day. When a teacher tells me she wishes she had a classroom full of students like my older son, that’s a best day. Toasting my husband with champagne on a random Wednesday night, over pizza, that’s a best day. Hysterical games of Scategories with family friends around a depleted Thanksgiving feast, that’s a best day. My father, nearing the end of his life, getting to witness my older son walk for the first time, that was a best day. Greeting an old friend that I haven’t seen for yonks and picking up exactly where we left off, that’s a best day. Standing in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza with my family, a lifelong dream, that was a best day.
My wedding anniversary is an annual reminder of the day that we pledged, in front of family and friends, our commitment to one another. But it is symbolic. The real day that happened, when we both realized that yes, this was the person we were willing to forsake others for, that day happened long before our wedding day.
That was a best day.