The rains came. And heavy. But you don’t weather ten years together without finding your way through a few a storms. And ten years ago today, on Bremen Long Island, on an precocious spring day (it was seventy degrees with the trees almost completely leafed-out), we a tied a knot that has held strong through rougher storms than this.
Thirteen years ago we met playing ultimate frisbee for rival colleges whose teams thought less of each other than the Montagues and Capulets; Twelve years ago we fell in love on the Appalachian Trail; Eleven years ago we bought a home in Dresden, ME together; And ten years ago today we slipped rings on each other’s fingers: one engraved with the line, “will you give me yourself” and the other with “will you come travel with me,” leaving implicit Whitman’s final line “shall we stick by each other as long as we live.” We followed that up with a honeymoon hike of Maine’s hundred-mile wilderness, ending on Katahdin.
And we had our anniversary hiking plans all set. We would be crossing a road with a swanky bed and breakfast a mere half-mile road walk from the trail. On the very day we were hitched a decade ago. We even called a week in advance, but Virginia Tech’s graduation got in the way and we learned that every place within a fifty-mile radius would be booked solid Thursday through Saturday. Our daily hopeful calls inquiring about cancellations proved fruitless (perhaps an unpaid library fine or a missed PE credit would lead to a withheld diploma, and a disenchanted relative would refuse to make the trip). So we changed plans. The new plan: to get wet. Very wet.
The frigid downpour lasted most of the morning with a brief respite in the mid-afternoon, only to return again in the evening. But during the interlude we stopped at a shelter and shared an anniversary celebration with some trail friends. The shelter was adorned with tree ornaments and other decorations (likely remnants from a cinco de mayo celebration), and festive toys (like a bouncy ball) were scattered around.
The kids even made a special desert: lime jello, which they managed to congeal in a mere thirty minutes (an eight of the recommended four hours) by using a special titanium conductor coupled with a high-speed, gravity-fed, convective coolant (they put our mugs in the mountain stream– yes, the same kind we swim in). A fellow hiker asked Mama Bear for some tips on weathering a decade together. Her response: “Just keep hiking.” Even when it rains: the sun will come out eventually.
So we had to forgo the swanky B and B. (We stopped by in the morning and it was a gorgeous horse farm that could have been on the cover of Town and Country Magazine — complete with horses ridden by pulchritudinous help, pictures of which would likely lead to great uptick in Rich Goldman’s miles on the Appalachian Trail). Instead, we hiked in a cold rain. But our friends made space for the kids in the shelter, while their parents set up the tent in the deluge. Then we climbed in and tried to figure out the fastest way for an old married couple to get warm after a long, wet day.
The next morning we were treated to the sun rising over a stirring emblem of longevity, which has weathered many decades of storms and sun alike: the Keffer Oak is the second largest oak tree on the AT. When last measured, its girth was eighteen feet across at the bottom. (We’ve long since ceased measuring the girth of each other’s bottom–another secret to a happy marriage).
In Hebrew, the characters that represent the numeral “18” of the stoic Oak’s girth are the same characters that spell the word “life.” So here’s a toast to a full decade of our own lovely hitched-hike through life: l’chaim and all my love to my one-and-only. I’m All In.