An Opal Anniversary

Today is mine and Shannon’s 24 year anniversary. By the time you read this, it won’t be anymore, but I wanted to take this time today to specifically capture my thoughts.

As I type this, Shannon is vacillating between slumber and consciousness as she bobs around on the float in our pool, and I’m watching the multiple Facebook notifications cross my screen from friends throughout our entire married lifespan liking, loving, and commenting on my anniversary post. It warms my soul to feel so loved! 

 

The Opal Anniversary

We’ve spent the last several weeks trying to figure out what we wanted to do for our anniversary, trying to conjure up some grand gesture that would adequately reflect the importance of celebrating so many trips around the sun together. Sure, we know that next year’s 25th will need to be a doozy. I mean, it has to be, right? A party, perhaps. Or maybe an Alaskan cruise. Maybe a trip to New York to see a bunch of musicals, one of which must absolutely be Hamilton. That one has been on our radar for a while, but what to do for our 24th anniversary? What material is even used to designate that one? Spoiler: it’s the opal anniversary, and yes, I had to look it up. 

I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could unearth from the recesses of my memory what we did for most of the other anniversaries.

We’re not strangers to the event anniversary. For our 10th, we celebrated by staying in the historic Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, and I adorned Shannon’s finger with a beautiful ring carrying 10 inset diamonds that she has worn every day since. For our 20th, we took a multi-day motorcycle trip up historic Highway 17 through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina before landing at Oak Island, North Carolina. Both of those anniversaries hold lots of great memories, but I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could unearth from the recesses of my memory what we did for most of the other anniversaries. Still,  we really were at a loss for what to do for today.

 

Getting to today’s agenda

As late as yesterday we were plumbing our brains trying to figure out what we should be doing. We thought about traveling over to Tampa or Clearwater. We thought about heading out to Kennedy Space Center, or spending a day on the beach at Canaveral. Perhaps Disney. We even thought about our standard breakfast and a movie. Maybe a movie marathon at the theater or one here at home. Maybe some co-op video games! Truth be told, it’s still early in the day, and some of those things may yet happen, but as noon approaches I’m guessing the more grand events will fall by the wayside.

When we woke up this morning, both having zonked out after running our weekly Sunday church-gig gauntlet yesterday, there was a certain peace in allowing our eyes to open and see where the day took us. We decided that there doesn’t have to be a grand plan for the day in order for it feel special and we realized that the effort in trying to work up a mutually-enjoyable day out had started to become counter to what the whole day was supposed to be about anyway: us celebrating us. So what grand gesture started our 24th anniversary?  McDonald’s breakfast.

Once we decided not to make a big production of the day, a peace washed over us both and we relaxed into the easiness of the whatever.

Let me back up a little bit, because we weren’t quite there when we initially woke up. First, I got up and made some coffee and checked in on a few projects that were releasing today. After that, we hopped in the pool, still wrestling with where the day was to go, and it was in the tranquility of the still morning, the birds waking up to the day, and us in the warm, yet refreshing water that we decided to just allow the day to unfold. Once we decided not to make a big production of the day, a peace washed over us both and we relaxed into the easiness of the whatever. The first order of business, however was breakfast. Enter: sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit for her, and a chicken biscuit with cheese for me.

 

It shouldn’t be this difficult, right?

As we tucked into the calorically dense, and not-at-all-good-for-us meal, I got to thinking about why we were working so hard to make a destination day like our anniversary manifest into something. Was it because that’s what married people do? Things on their anniversary? Was it because we are always working on this or that project, and that we should escape somewhere else to force us to unplug at least a little? And just who was it that was exerting this pressure to elevate today into something beyond normalcy?

I had a revelation as I took my second or third bite of mass-produced, greasy bliss: what we actually do during our anniversary is irrelevant as long as whatever we do is a deliberate attempt to recognize our marriage and each other. Today, that has become pool time and fast food with maybe some movies or gaming around the edges. Who knows, but whatever we decide to do, we’ll do it together physically and together in deliberate consciousness.

What we actually do during our anniversary is irrelevant as long as whatever we do is a deliberate attempt to recognize our marriage and each other.

If I extrapolate this idea of deliberateness further, it kind of takes the pressure off of any anniversary, birthday, or holiday. I think we’ve been doing this for a while, without even consciously realizing it. For example, Valentine’s Day is never really an event in the Kropfhaus. We don’t necessarily ignore it, but I’ve never been one to screech into the grocery at the last minute to snatch up whatever mylar balloon was left floating in the produce section and then sheepishly gift that, along with some chocolates, of course, to Shannon at 9:00 pm on February 14th. To be fair, though, I’d be lying if I said I don’t expect Shannon to hit me over the head when she’s 85 years old and say something to the effect of, “of course I want you to make a big deal about Valentine’s! I’m a girl!!” Dang. Maybe I’m all wrong about this! Anyway, because I express my love and appreciation for her daily, setting aside a day to specifically acknowledge what is already a common occurrence seems at best, redundant, and at worst, kind of… insulting?

For the record, we do take birthdays very seriously (I’ll be writing about king and queen for the day soon), and our “date-aversary” is probably more sacred to us than our actual anniversary. In fact, I think I remember more from our first date than our wedding day, so it's not like the calendar is devoid of any special occasions. In the meantime, we’ll hit the big anniversaries and pull out all the stops for those milestones, but the ones in-between will probably continue to be filled with coffee, pool floating, junk food, and a peace and contentment that truly passes understanding. I could not wish for a better way to spend a day with the love of my life.

 

A Shivering Coda

After I wrapped up this post I hopped in the pool to float with Shannon for a while. We laughed, cried a little more over the loss of Dottie, and discussed the rest of the day. We decided we would watch a couple of movies and chow down on popcorn and M&M’s (thank you, Jason and Ellen!). During the second movie, I was getting  pretty cold, and it got so bad that I started shivering. I went downstairs to grab a long sleeve shirt, but what happened over the next hour was a terrifying effort to try and warm up! It got so bad I even took to sitting outside in the 90+ degree heat in long sleeves, but still found myself getting chilled! 

Shannon went straight into nurse mode – stacking blankets, taking my temperature, and making tea

By this time, my head was throbbing and my stomach was churning from the convulsive shivering plus the consumption of movie snacks on top of our morning McDonald’s run. I eventually decided to hop it the shower to warm up and sat under the steaming hot water for no less than 30 minutes. I called out to Shannon and she went straight into nurse mode – stacking blankets, taking my temperature, and making hot tea. I thought it might have been sunburn from the morning pool time, but as it turned out, I had somehow started running a fever! Thankfully, my fever soon broke and we were able to finish the second movie, but the rest of the evening was relegated to bed rest and reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

All this to say: 1) I sure am glad we weren't out and about when the freak fever hit, and 2) I could not have asked for a better object lesson in allowing the day to take us where it wanted, even if that meant getting sick for a few hours.

Dave was born in Hawaii, grew up in San Diego, and wound up in Orlando, FL by way of both High Point, NC and Memphis, TN.

He is a husband of 24 years to his wife, Shannon, and is a crazy cat dad. When he’s not rambling on about life here, he can be found writing music for film and TV, playing music, or teaching music at Full Sail University.

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