We had an anniversary party for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary this past weekend, a sort of casual thing with picnic food and bunches of family and friends they have had since before the Elvis administration. Ham sandwiches, salads, and some wine they bottled with special labels marking the date.
I find it remarkable that two people so ensconced in the fashions of the early 1970s, a mere acne pad from being technically teenagers, were able to make a major life decision that they have stuck to for this long and will continue to go with presumably forever.
When I think of myself at age 19 I see some suspect footwear, tentative plans to become a teacher, and it all smells a little like Southern Comfort at a Warren G concert at the Target Center.
But here they are. I like to think of them as Big Dan and Little Ann. My dad even went above and beyond and wore a shirt that matched my mom's. Hard to tell if that was her anniversary present, or if he was just being hilarious.
Facebook has really made greeting people you haven't seen in a decade much easier. I busted out a few "Now didn't Melissa just get married?" "Now Alia played basketball in college, right?" and "Now where is Becca's boyfriend Josh going to college?" It was like acing a "Where are they now" test and advancing to the speed round.
My seventh grade English teacher was there.
My friend Hinz, her husband and their 11-month old showed up, which gave my mom something baby-smelling to coo over.
I would say the highlight of the day was when one of my aunts grabbed me, pulled me into my parents bedroom and showed me a wine-colored crime scene on their white carpet. A huge patch of red, with splatter constellations.
"I was going to use their bathroom and my glass ... it toppled," she said.
I think it was the word "Toppled" that really made it.
We scrubbed away at it with Club Soda, which I'd always assumed was just Rom Com fiction but it actually works. And in fact, the Club Soda was way better on the stain than it was in the Sherbert Punch I made for the event.
I made the 4-hour trip late Friday night. I prefer night driving to day driving. Everything is a little surreal when you don't see another car for 15 miles and start to imagine a Troll-pocaylpse. Or that you've officially hit the edge of the world and every time another set of tail lights disappear in the distance, it's just Ford Escort plunging off earth and making for Mars.
Between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., my default is to suspect supernatural elements are at play. And mass murderers. I spent 20 minutes outside of Canon Falls convinced a dwarf-sized strangler was kicking the back of the driver's seat.
I asked my mom for a copy of my birth certificate while I was home and instead she loaded me down with my baby book, an old photo album and the candle from my baptism. None of these things will help me skip the country.
I prefer to keep all of my stuff on the internet. I am very not sentimental when it comes to birthday cards I received when I turned one. I'm not sure why they still exist, but now that they have existed 35 years it feels like I'm obligated to make sure they last 35 more. The baby book doesn't have much in it. Although I was relieved to learn that my parents' earliest complaints about me involved the late hours I preferred at 4 months old.
I'm very curious about what a person does with the candle from their baptism. I told Chuck I was going to bust it out next time I'm around a Ouija Board. He suggested I use it to light a cigarette.
My dad told me he has boxes and boxes of other "stuff" of mine. I know that means old journals. And I especially know I don't want to read those. That girl wrote fan-fiction about reinventing herself as someone who wore Saddle Shoes and Poodle Skirts and went to Homecoming with sports heroes. Or, one specific entry I remember well because my brother read it to aloud while it was still wet on the page in a moment of cruel brotherly behavior:
"Dear Diary. Tonight I went to the movie 'Back to the Future' with my friends. I was hopping to see Tom E. Then we went to Waldos for pizza."
Oh! Look! It's my senior picture! (Chuck says, "I always forget that you were once a person who would have had 90s hair."):