My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June 2009. Husband and I had been dating for a little over a year at that point, and the anniversary party — where we spent the whole weekend at my grandparents’ — was a few weeks after he met most of my extended family for the first time (at my college graduation).
I didn’t realize how nervous I was about everyone liking each other. I’m crazy about my family but…they’re a lot to take all at once. Just because there’s a lot of them. And we’re loud and have inside jokes (mainly quoting Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s … Vacation to each other) and…let’s just say there have been more than a few significant others who get brought to family events and get that deer-in-headlights look after a few minutes.
My husband, though, hit it off with everyone right away. It took him awhile to learn names and keep everyone straight (“And he’s your mom’s…brother?” “Brother-in-law.” “Okay. And she’s your…cousin?” “Second cousin. I think.” “Got it. And that’s…?” “…I have no idea. Another second cousin or something?”). I remember that night, after all the extended-extended family had left and it was pretty much just my grandparents, my parents and brothers, aunts and uncles, and (first) cousins (and one or two select second cousins), we were out back playing beer pong (real beer pong, with paddles) and laughing and taking pictures and sharing stories. Husband was playing with my relatives and seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself, and they had all accepted him seamlessly into the “group” and I leaned back in my chair and told myself, Remember this. This is happiness.
Ever since, I try to take a moment to be still and really consciously remember when I’m feeling that. Because so often, I’ll be happy for a brief moment and all too quickly let it come crashing down into something else. Like when I’m at a concert and it was oh my GOD so amazing that was incredible and as soon as it’s over and the lights come up I’m pissed off at the crowds and the lines to get out of the parking lot.
So I’m trying to train myself to consciously stop and pay attention — just for a moment — when I’m feeling happy.
When I’m in the kitchen with Husband, prepping for dinner. We may be making small talk or listening to music or have the TV on in the background (usually on Big Bang Theory or a baseball game or, hopefully for the next couple months, a Warriors play-off game), and I’ll get hit with this realization that This is marriage. This is real life. And I feel so at peace (until we start trying to move around together in our kitchen, which really only fits one-and-a-half people comfortably).
When I take Onyx out on a run and she looks back at me with her big doggie smile.
After a race, once the adrenaline has worn off and I’ve had some water and something to eat (and probably a beer too) and I’m maybe watching other runners finish or relaxing near the finish line or expo area.
After a big family meal, when we linger at the table, catching up and telling stories.
When I’m sitting on the beach at Tahoe, late in the afternoon, when the beach is calm and quiet because most of the crowds have left and I’m watching the sun glittering on the water and the waves crashing rhythmically at my feet while I dig my toes in and out of the sand.