Today, I’ve been married to J for 15 years.
It’s a pretty weird anniversary.
Crystal is what the ‘traditional’ gift is for 15 years of marriage, and while J and I do seem to live a pretty traditional life together, we just aren’t ‘crystal’ people. It’s too fancy and impractical. I mean…sure…I guess it’s pretty, but…crystal things are mostly just ‘don’t touch it because you might break it,’ and, ‘look at my ornate dust collector; isn’t it great?’ And this sure as hell isn’t traditional living time anywhere in the world at the moment. So the traditional gift is out this year, even if we were allowed by the law and our own personal moral codes to go shopping for something that frivolous.
The modern gift substitution is watches, according to a quick internet search. But with J working from home and the Boy home from school doing online instruction and virtually all social obligation and leisure cancelled, the entire concept of time has become strikingly clear as a human construct. I mean…who could use a watch when there’s nowhere to really be on time? Besides, we all have digital clocks on our phones and laptops and televisions and fitness trackers. A watch? I mean, they’re nice, but at this point in modern life, they’re a throwback, even when time actually has some meaning.
J and I are spending this anniversary in self imposed quarantine like everyone else who has either the mandate or the luxury to do it (for us, it’s definitely a luxury). We’re thinking of ways we can help people who are faced with the mandate from a distance, and worrying about the people who can’t stay home because they’re too vital to human survival to sequester themselves. We’re going to get take-out for lunch and dinner today. A splurge! Because it’s as special as we can make this anniversary being stuck at home together. But for us, that’s still pretty special.
We’ve had several chats over the past couple of weeks about how so many people are stuck at home with people they don’t get along with without adequate distraction. There’s no sports on television. There’s no outings to go on. You’re not supposed to invite other people over to create a buffer. I mean, the internet and television and books are a lot, but for some people, they aren’t enough. I can remember how I felt as a kid being home alone with my parents. I longed for my grandparents and school all the time. I couldn’t wait to get to school or to Gramma’s house to be away from home, because I never felt ‘home’ at home. Home was full of loneliness and neglect and criticism and anxiety. All the time. School was an escape. Gramma and Grampa’s house was an escape. It was a lifeline. Even as a pathological introvert with a rich inner life of a writer, I don’t think I’d be okay if I were a kid living through this shit right now with my parents. And I never felt like I was in any danger with them. Just constantly anxious and unhappy. There are so many people right now stuck with people who are toxic to their mental and emotional health, not to mention people who are trapped with physical abusers. Or people who literally have no one…not even online friends.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic and all its hardship and dire future implications, I can still be immensely grateful for J and celebrate 15 years of marriage with him today. I’m happy…I’m LUCKY…to be stuck with him. I hope he’s happy to be stuck with me.