Last Friday was my mom and dad's 38th anniversary. Ever since I moved out of the house, I never really paid too much attention to their anniversary. I always thought that it was something that the two of them should celebrate and recognize together, and that it wasn't really anyone else's business. There have been some milestones that I knew deserved celebration, like their 25th year together. That was the summer after my junior year of high school, and my sisters and I planned an elaborate semi-surprise party for them at the park where they were married with as many people as we still knew who were at the wedding. I can't remember at that point taking any time to reflect on how it felt for them to be there with all of their friends and family, 25 years later. Thinking about it now, it seems like it might have felt kind of crazy for them.

This year, however, I've been thinking a lot about my mom and dad's marriage. My mom was 20 and my dad was 24. They had been together for a year and a half before getting married. (I learned this as I read through their wedding album, which I sneakily took from their house to scan photos.) I've wondered many times how in the world they could have ever known at that young age, and after being together for such a short time, that they were the ones for each other. I don't think I've asked them this, but I don't think I need to either. What I've come to understand is that they didn't really know. They were just committed to making it work. Really committed. The second half of the 80s and probably the entirety of the 90s were rocky. They fought a lot. But they made it through.

We certainly weren't wealthy growing up, but we had everything we needed. My mom and dad have always shown my sisters and I so much love. And they still do. It's because of them that I truly believe in love and marriage. In fact, last November I was in Brooklyn visiting a good friend and she was telling me that her boyfriend's parents were asking if they'd get married. She told me that they said they weren't in a rush, and also that they were somewhat turned off by the display of a wedding. I told her a little bit about what I think of marriage, based on what I've witnessed with my parents. We had a good conversation about it, and afterward I think she thought a bit differently about getting married. A couple hours later I had to drive up to Connecticut. Halfway there she texted me to say she and her boyfriend talked more about marriage after I left and decided to get engaged. In May I went to their wedding on Cape Cod, and it was not only a celebration of love, but of commitment, too.

Over the weekend I was at my parents' house (as I had to return their wedding album without them knowing), working in the wood shop with my dad. I started to think of him as the guy in these photos for the first time in my life. As someone I could relate to and who I might even be friends with.

Just a few minutes ago some friends stopped by and I showed them these photos. My friend Shawn said, "any one of these people could be our friends."  I guess as I've been thinking about my mom and dad's wedding, and their 38 years together, I keep thinking that not only do I want to be their friends, but I want to be like them, too.

____________________ All photos are scans from  my parents' printed photos from 1974.


I haven't really been at this whole blogging thing for very long, so my absence likely has gone unnoticed, I'm sure. I've thought about this place often throughout the past couple months, but I've been doing more than reflecting. Maybe we can catch up sometime? For now, though, I want to tell you about my birthday. More than my birthday, I want to tell you about my friends. If I only had one of these amazing women in my life, I'd consider myself so lucky. But the fact is that I have a whole team of loving, thoughtful, and beautiful friends who overwhelm me with their generosity on a regular basis. They all got together for my birthday and planned an unforgettable weekend.

It started with an email I sent to a few of my closest friends saying that I wanted to have a party for my 30th birthday, but didn't want to plan it. Within a day of sending it, I had been taken off the email chain and was forced to relinquish any control I once had over the situation. Each friend took on a different task, from planning the menu and preparing all the food, to mixing the agua frescas, to decorating the house, and distracting me the day of the party. No detail was forgotten.

My house was filled with so much warmth that night.

The next morning -- on my actual birthday -- we had brunch up the street at one friend's house, with everyone who was included on that initial email. It was sweet and low key, and exactly what I needed the morning after a big party. At once, all of them looked at each other and nodded and said, "ok, let's go!" We all packed into a few cars, and they ended up driving me to my mom and dad's house. I knew they weren't home, and had no idea why we were there.

They brought me to the back yard, to the furthest point near where all the family pets are buried. There was a shovel stuck in the ground, with a balloon tied to it. It was rainy out, and we were all bundled up. I ran inside and grabbed my mom's coat and boots because I wasn't prepared for what came next. They each gave me a letter that they had written to me, that I wasn't allowed to read at that moment. I still haven't read them. Instead, I had to dig a big hole and bury these letters so we can reconvene in 10 years, on my 40th birthday, and dig them up. Two friends played guitar and sang "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel, which is one of my favorite songs. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and everyone else's too.

Once we buried the letters, we stripped down to our bras and underwear and warmed up in the hot tub before my parents got home.

I don't know what I did to deserve such an incredible demonstration of love, but I'm very aware of how lucky I am. I keep thinking of those letters and can't believe I have to wait 10 years to read them.

____________________ These photos were taken by Halley Roberts and Sarah Castagnola.