When I look at my wedding pictures, which were taken exactly 20 years ago today, I always think two things:
1) Who lets kids that young get married? They’re babies!
2) I have THE. WORST. wedding hair of all time.
Scott and I were fortunate to find each other early in life. After an undistinguished high school dating career for him, and a nearly non-existent one for me, we both felt we’d been alone a lot at a time when we didn’t want to be. But I was corrected (rather stridently, as I recall) in this impression when I went to a thirtysomething friend’s bachelorette party. We were discussing how long we had to wait for Mr. Right, and I was nearly drummed out of the party for suggesting that getting married at 22, having met Mr. Right at 18, qualified as a long wait. I suppose she was right. But, you know, when you don’t go to prom, it feels like a sweetheart-less eternity.
As the years have gone by, I realize how young we really were. In many ways we grew up together, and we’ve been lucky to mostly grow together, our roots firmly bound together even as we wandered in and out of our communal flower pot. If we tried to tell those kids how married life would be, and the events we’d end up navigating together, they would’ve told us to lay off the crack pipe. But I suppose that’s the way it always goes. As I was getting in the car tonight to go out for our anniversary dinner, I said to Scott, “We’re too young to have been married 20 years. That seems like a really, really long time.” I can remember perfectly sitting in the passenger side of his silver Buick, rounding the corner at Vine and 17th headed back to my dorm after our very first date, listening to him talk smack about the music I loved (a habit he’s kept up ever since). I can remember all the hustling we did the morning of the wedding to move his bed out of his apartment into mine, pick up the wedding cake, and rushing to get dressed in the alumni center bathroom, feeling sweaty and gross on a hot May Sunday in Nebraska. I can remember a gazillion moments in between then and now that signal the passing of significant time, yet it seems strange that they add up to two full decades. Yet here we are. We are the longest-married couple of our generation in my family, and in our acquaintance. And we both feel lucky that that’s the case. WINNING!
But the hair thing…oh, the hair! Two weeks before the wedding, I decided it’d be a good idea to get what would turn out to be the penultimate perm I would ever subject my head to. Because who doesn’t want beautiful curly hair for their wedding day? Except I was the thrifty sort, so I decided to have this perm done for $30 at the beauty college instead of at a salon, because salon perms were expensive, especially to a girl whose mom had cut her hair (and done a good job of it, thank dog!) all her life. It never occurred to me to go and get a special occasion hairdo for the day. I didn’t know anyone who ever had (although it’s commonplace today); the idea of paying someone to curl my hair and put it up offended every Midwestern economic sensibility I had.
This discount perm was, as you might anticipate, a huge mistake. The gal left the developer on a long time, and didn’t adequately shield my face from the stuff, burning my skin in the process. The scabs had only just disappeared right before the wedding. But as excited as I was to be facial-scab-free (as all young brides dream of being on their wedding day), the other result of the overprocessing was some seriously frizzy, untameable poodle hair.
Between my follicular disaster area, and the aforementioned wedding day errands, I ran out of time to do much more than throw my dress on, slap on some makeup that immediately started melting down my sweaty face, and spend 10 minutes farting around with my hair before admitting that nothing short of a miracle would make it pretty, pulling it back into a ponytail, and attaching my veil clip to it. It is not elegant. It’s barely tidy. You’d think after 20 years, I’d be over it, but every time I see it, I wince. It is eternally regrettable hair.
But, happily, the union has not been regrettable, and we regularly congratulate ourselves on being smart enough to recognize a good thing when we found it, and holding onto it, even when our hands were tired and slippery. Twenty years into “for better or worse,” you truly understand why they put that in vows, and what a victory it is to keep those promises. But even when I’m mad at him, I still like him better than everyone else on the planet. And spending your life with someone with whom that’s true…well, it doesn’t get much better than that.