“How did you two end up meeting? I can’t remember.”
My husband and I have been married for eleven years; I bet no one has asked me that in at least 5. For very good reason though: we’ve been parents for the past 5 years. While our two daughters are among the most wonderful parts of our marriage, they seem to have overtaken our outward identity as a couple (as a “family”) and even how we relate to one another most of the time. Becoming parents to each child was indeed an adventure that we braved together, but it was so little about “us” because it has to be all about the child for quite awhile in the beginning. So it was a genuinely surprising pleasure to visit the town where we were married, stay with a friend from that time of our lives, and (after the kids were asleep) to have her ask that question, “What’s the story of how you two got together, again?”
I had forgotten just a little bit the pace of our falling in love (not in my long-term memory, but you know, in my short-term memory and daily interactions). How we were such a good fit, and not only did we both know it so quickly, but others recognized it too. Our friend’s follow-up comments named that in ways we haven’t named to each other in awhile. “It sounds like you were really lucky to find the one person who…” she said. She’s right. But we haven’t thought about that luckiness lately.
There seems to be this horizonless middleness – maybe it is middle age? – where we aren’t peering into the exciting unknown with exhilaration, making the person whose hand we are gripping key to jumping off that cliff… because the present stretches on without much change in topography as far as the eye can see. The daily routine of taking care of and providing for kids (whom we love!) is part of the flat surface of the foreseeable future, but so is working without striving for a diploma or residency to complete.
Remembering who we were to each other at the beginning, prodded by someone who has had pretty limited experience of us in person since then, was just what we needed for one of these insignificant, non-milestone anniversary years. With a simple inquiry, she helped me to recover some gratefulness, and actual awe at what we have in each other.