Do you remember what we had for dinner fifteen years ago tonight? my husband asked after the fireworks outside our window had ceased exploding. It was lasagna, we remembered, vegetable lasagna, at our rehearsal dinner. And this led to a lot more remembering while we snuggled up in bed. We went through all our past apartments, each of them cramped and humble – most of them encompassed by quirky neighbors. There was that place off Chicago Ave., for example, where the booming bass of the tenant’s stereo below us would jolt us from sleep, and it was miserable because we had work in the morning so Troy would futilely bang his hockey stick against the floor of our bedroom. The guy who lived beside us was a chauffer for strippers. Our shower never worked.
And then there was the two flat on Mango St. where the landlord’s son had a habit of ringing our buzzer at say two o’clock in the morning, all high and liquored up, because he couldn’t find his keys again. On Haddon Ave., our oldest, Elijah, was born onto a full-sized bed in the middle of our living/dining room. While I labored, my brother played basketball on the computer: He shoots he scores! yelled the announcer as I timed the minutes between contractions.
Our favorite was a different two flat on Drummond Place, which we bought with friends. They lived upstairs and we lived downstairs. I had two babies there and the Johnsons adopted a beautiful little boy, my godson, from Korea. On Drummond Place, we bought enchiladas out of a cooler from a grandma going door to door with her homemade wares. We called 911 when a gang fight broke out at the apartment next door to us. We watched Twin Peaks from start to finish. A feral cat gave birth to kittens in the back of our garage. We had a mouse problem. And we entertained at that commune, all the time. Beth would make soup and bread and I’d provide salad and dessert. We laughed hard and cried hard. Those years there are so precious to me, it makes my heart ache.
Our priest’s daughter is getting married this month and we were talking the other day about the apartment she’ll be moving into with her new husband. It’s pretty small, she told me. Perfect, I thought. There’s something romantic about scraping by when you’re young, about growing up together and learning to depend on each other. It makes you appreciate the little things, like working showers, a back yard free of rats, dishwashers, full nights of sleep, and date nights at home featuring take out food, box wine and a DVD.
Tonight we’ll go out to a fancy-ish restaurant, my groom and I, and toast fifteen years of marital trials and bliss. Here’s to fifty more!, we’ll say, and I’ll mean it with all that I am. For better or worse, I’m in this always.