1,576,800 minutes. 1,576,800 moments so dear. 1,576,800 minutes–how do you measure, measure 3 years? In flowers planted, plantings killed, children conceived*, dogs adopted, miles driven, planes boarded, moments stolen, deployments endured, laughter shared, jokes created, basements finished, mountains climbed, rooms painted, blog posts published, rules broken, neighbors offended, friends made, friends alienated, funerals attended, weddings celebrated, kilometers sprinted, cities explored, gifts given, gifts received, children disciplined, children lauded, success realized, failures suffered, mortgages paid, cars repaired, vacations taken, vacations canceled, dreams materialized, dreams interrupted, shortcomings overlooked, taxes increased, taxes cut, sleep cycles shortened, admiration reciprocated, gaffes broadcast, secrets kept, skills showcased, cocktails shaken, toddies stirred, parties hosted, parties crashed, promises renewed? In 1,576,800 minutes, how do you measure 3 years in the life?
Three years ago, Pretty Bride and I eloped after finding out I’d be deployed to either Iraq (again) or to Andrews AFB in January 2006. She’d flown in from her PhD program in archeology at Penn State to see David Gray with me at the Fox Theatre. Mr. Gray got sick, so instead of attending a concert, we called my pastor friend, Charlie, who ran a church 35 miles east of town to see if we could get hitched in his backyard. Being a good man from Alabama who knew my penchant for spontaneity, he said “sure.”
We had 1 day before PB had to fly back to PA. So, on 11/7/05, we got up, bought a dress (2 stores visited), picked and bought rings (8 stores visited), got my dog vaccinated, and headed east on I-20 by the planned time. My cell rang, and Charlie asked if I had gotten the marriage certificate.
Me: “I thought you had that. I figured it came in your ‘preacher kit’.”
Charlie: “Nope. Wish it did. You need to go to your county courthouse and get it.
Me: “Oh shit.”
Me: “Dadgummit. Time for a U-turn.”
We turned around, parked illegally, and sprinted into the Fulton County courthouse. I was terrified I’d see someone I knew and told PB that if I suddenly dropped to the floor as if I’d dropped something, it was because I’d seen a colleague (I’d told my employer I’d been “held up by some events precipitated through the National Guard” that day, which was sorta true, depending on your definition of “events precipitated”). We got the piece of paper. Folks in line for concealed weapons permits took longer to finish than we did.
Drove to Covington, GA and got hitched in my buddy’s backyard. Stayed in tux and dress to freak out a couple friends with the news afterward and went to a kickass dinner. Cried when I put her on the plane the next day but knew I’d see her Thanksgiving break.
By the time I was 30, I’d been invited to 49 weddings. My 50th wedding was my least populated but my most enjoyable. And, it was nice giving societal expectations a great big middle finger.
*both photos depict the days on which children were conceived.