Sunday marked our tenth wedding anniversary. What can I say about that? My siblings and their spouses were all impressed that we'd been married for so long. Only my oldest sister has been married longer. (I'm the third of seven children.) My younger brother got married earlier in the year. He and his wife are about ten years younger than us.
They're so young.
What does that make me?
Wise, I'm sure. It's funny, but Ammii and I went to the same high school and never met. I was a senior when she was a sophomore. I was in band, and spent a lot of time hanging around the band room. She was in orchestra and spent a lot of time right next door in the orchestra room. I think I remember seeing her in the halls or at her locker, but I never knew her name, never said a word that I recall.
For her part, Ammii remembers being annoyed by a group of saxophonists practicing Sabre Dance in the hall before school. Like we thought we were so cool. I was part of that group. She swore she'd never marry a saxophonist.
What if someone had taken me by the shoulders and pointed me in her direction? What if they'd said, "There's the girl you're going to fall in love with and marry"? (And how does one punctuate a sentence like that?) Would I have been impressed?
Four years later when we really met, I was very impressed. I remember walking into her parents' house, shaking her hand. She was my sister's friend by then. They were going caroling to a nursing home in early December and invited me to come. Ammii had a crush on another guy in the group and did her best to stay near him.
And I stayed near her. I loved her laugh. The way her wrists moved as she played the guitar. The curve of her voice, the line of her jaw, the nervous confidence. I don't know if I ever registered that she was nervous because she was trying to impress that other guy. All I know is that I never felt more at ease around anyone. It's hard for me to be myself around strangers, but Ann Marie didn't feel like a stranger.
That other guy—the one she liked—never worried me in the slightest. That was the most amazing effect she had on me. Normally, if there was any hint at all that a girl liked someone else, I wouldn't bother trying. Normally, I was terrified and tongue-tied. But she brought out the best in me and then she fell in love with it. She never had a chance. Nor did I.
Ten years is a good start.