May 6, 2020
Twenty-five years is a long time.
In 25 years, you can live at five different addresses, in two different states.
Buy and sell half a dozen cars.
Go on nearly three dozen vacations, large and small.
Raise three very different children.
In 25 years, you can dream some dreams. Gather up your courage. Try to make them come true. Watch one crash, another take off, a third group fizzle out and make way for developments you never saw coming.
The beauty of my last 25 years is I haven’t done any of this alone. For the last quarter century, I’ve had my husband at my side, and he does not disappoint. He keeps showing up and showing up, through all my good, my bad and my ugly. I’m not only grateful. Often, I’m flabbergasted. It’s not easy being married to me. I’ve got a temper. I have sharp opinions and I’m stubborn about sticking to them. I get sick easily, and frequently (nothing life-threatening, but it’s a drag for everyone concerned). Plus, if I can’t find time to write, I’m a first-order grouch.
Still. Here he is. Twenty-five years to the day when we said I do, my husband today gave me the ultimate compliment — he joined Facebook, so he could publicly proclaim his love for me.
I know I’m a lucky woman.
I started getting lucky in January 1993, when I arrived to tour a boarding house on Foxhall Road, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
I’d just landed a spring internship at the LA Times’ D.C. bureau, but I was only staying five months and no one would rent to me. In a panic, the night before, I huddled for warmth inside a phone booth and called my friend Christine, who was working as a TV reporter in Montana. “Go look for housing in Georgetown,” she said. “Students are always taking out short-term leases.”
That’s how I found myself heading up a staircase as this lanky bald guy in a button down shirt and LL Bean chinos was heading down. We shook hands. He was friendly and cheerful and I momentarily wondered if he was single. Then I turned my attention back to the urgent matter at hand: persuading the landlady she wanted to rent her one single room to me, even though I’d be leaving in May.
Of course, she did, because I was never going to run into Bill again otherwise. I spent my days on K Street, surrounded by other journalists, or up on Capitol Hill, trying to corner lawmakers and their aides; his world was defined by the confines of Georgetown University, where he was in the last year of his medical school degree.
We didn’t look like an obvious couple. I was Jewish. He was Catholic. I was from Los Angeles. He was from small cities on the East Coast. But we laughed at the same jokes. What brought a tear to my eye, brought a tear to his. And when we looked into the future, we both wanted the same thing: a house that felt like a home, filled with kids who defined our family’s life, not fit into it.
We started dating in March, went our separate ways in June (me back to a job in Ventura with the LA Times, him to start a surgery residency in Pittsburgh); dated long distance until we got engaged the following April; he moved to LA in July, 1994 to start an internal medicine residency (surgery turned out not to be his thing); and finally got married on May 6, 1995, at Shutters-on-the-Beach, a hotel in Santa Monica.
In the movies, that’s the end of the story. But as anyone who makes it to middle age knows, that’s only the start. I remember when we went on our honeymoon, how odd it was to call him my husband. That word felt bulky and awkward on my tongue. Now, I think that’s because I didn’t, couldn’t have understood it back then.
A husband, I’ve learned, is someone who you’re tied to with so many connective tissues, one layered on top of the others, that even if you decide to sever them, you can’t heal into the person you were before. A husband changes you, and you change him.
This marriage isn’t always easy, but I never asked it to be. It’s often wonderful, but that’s not a precondition. What it is is the foundation of my happy existence. It’s the miracle I get to take for granted every lucky day of my life.
So, to Bill, the man I am fortunate enough to call my husband — I’m proud and not a little humbled that we’ve made it this far. Happy Silver Anniversary, my love. May there be many, many more.