21 Years

We have been locking eyes for a long time.

It used to be that we’d lock eyes after school when I got to The Daily Bagel. I’d have to go straight to the restroom to change out of my school uniform and into my work uniform, but Chuck would’ve already be there since his school was closer to the deli than mine was. He’d see me, and I’d see him, and we’d catch a glimpse for one quick moment of recognition. A flirt. A quick hello. A grin too, because we loved working together each afternoon, long before we officially became a couple.

I remember those moments so clearly. It was 26 years ago, but I can picture with pinpoint accuracy walking through the front door, scanning the prep area for Chuck, and finding him there.

Fast forward to our wedding day. The memories are less clear now because weddings are nearly impossible to remember in much detail. It’s all busy-ness and stress, keeping tabs on people and the running clock, making sure each crucial event follows the next. Thank goodness we have photos because I’m sure many details about our wedding would’ve been lost to time and my failing memory.

I didn’t have a wedding planner because Alpha Perfectionist Me wanted to do everything on my own. (In hindsight, that might’ve helped me relax a little.) My memories from this day are flickers and snapshots rather than motion pictures, minus a few things like dancing at the reception with Chuck and then my dad.

One moment in particular stands out and, of course, it’s when Chuck and I locked eyes as I approached the altar. That moment of recognition was everything. We’d taken the traditional route and not seen each other in person since the previous night, so this was a big deal. Keep in mind that this was 2000, so there was no texting or checking in on social media. It wouldn’t be until we met at the unity candle that we could catch up and whisper about everything we’d been doing the previous 24 hours.

Our wedding was lovely, but as any married person knows, it’s just an event. It’s not the marriage. It’s not the thing that sustains you or keeps you together for more than half your lives. No one understands what the vows mean on a wedding day anyway. Those words get defined (and redefined) in the years and decades that follow.

It has not been the easiest road to walk, but there have been far more good years than bad. For that, we couldn’t be more grateful.

Neither of us could’ve guessed where we’d end up 21 years after getting married or 25 years after he asked me to go out on a date, but we take nothing for granted.

Life is short, so choose your travel companion wisely <3

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