My husband and I haven’t had much luck in celebrating our wedding anniversary. Granted, we’ve only had two chances, but both times were kind of a failure.
For our first wedding anniversary we were on opposites sides of the world, separated after the failed military coup in Turkey. He was in Istanbul and I was in the US, waiting for my visa to be approved. The separation was largely unplanned (as was, obviously, the coup, at least on our part) and the day was, quite frankly, depressing as hell.
This past anniversary– two days ago– both of us forgot about it until mid-afternoon. We had flown into Istanbul the night before from the US, missing a night of sleep in the process, and we were jet lagged and disoriented. I slept until 1pm that day. My husband called me from work around that time, we chatted, neither of us remembering that it was our anniversary. I remembered maybe a couple of hours later, and at some point, he called back and was like, “Uh, I forgot about something earlier…”
We celebrated by snuggling on the couch and going to bed early, after talking a bit about how gift-giving is relationships is kind of overrated anyway.
And that’s totally fine.
For starters, our anniversary was always going to be a little muddled. We got married three times: once by officially signing the papers at the courthouse in Istanbul and getting our “Uluslararası Aile Cüzdanı” (International Family ID), and then by celebrating with one wedding in the US and one wedding in Turkey. (Yes, I know we’re spoiled. But with all the logistical difficulties of having an international marriage, it’s nice that it comes with some perks too!) All of our “marriages” happened on vastly different days– at the beginning of August, the end of August, and the beginning of October. So, we took the courthouse date– the day we officially got married– as our anniversary, but apparently we’re not very good at remembering it.
The real reason, however, that not doing very much for our wedding anniversary doesn’t bother me is that we already felt married by the time we actually *got* married. Our lives didn’t magically change after that day; it truly just feels like a piece of paper, something official to let other people know what we already knew.
The anniversary of our first date always sticks in my mind, and holds a lot of meaning for me– that is a day that definitely did change my life. And I knew pretty early on that we’d get married. I know that some of my family members (ahem) were pretty appalled when I moved to Turkey with him when we had been together less than two years and weren’t even engaged yet, but I never had any doubts.
Recently we went back to North Carolina to see friends and we visited some of the places that, in our minds, were instrumental to the early days of our relationship. We went to the cafe where we had our first date (an awkward couple of hours of chit-chatting over lattes), a diner where we got breakfast often, and, maybe the best one, the spot on the University of Chapel Hill campus where we used to sit on weekend mornings, drinking coffee and eating donuts (bought from the now-closed Krispy Kreme on Franklin Street) and people watching. Both of us have strong associations with that perch under the trees; it’s more or less where we fell in love that first spring and summer that we dated.
Anniversaries are nice, and a good mile marker of sorts– it’s fun to see the years pass by with the person you love and have chosen to spend your life with–but so much of romance exists in the quiet everyday moments, some that you don’t even realize at the time, like how good it feels to have a relaxing Sunday binge-watching a TV series together or, sometimes, the simple act of drinking cheap coffee out of styrofoam cups under the green canopy of a college campus.