Today, August 15th, is the 22nd anniversary of one of the best days of my life – the day Lisa and I got married. To commemorate this special day, I wanted to share 22 memories.
1. The Party, The Chair, The VW Rabbit
We met through a common friend who had a boyfriend at my fraternity. Lisa was brought along to parties and pretty quickly dumped off, and we would always chat (or as she says, she talked, I stood there). One party, Lisa got … um, smashed, and I had her sit down on a chair in my room – because I could close the door and find her friend so they could head home. I got back to my room and another fraternity brother was trying to put the moves on her … I mean, really? GTFO! After shooing the letch away, I actually carried Lisa down and put her into the car, a VW Rabbit, to head home. After that we chatted a couple of times, but once she left college I didn’t see her for a couple of years.
2. The re-introduction at the Brigham
We actually met one other time before this, but I was just starting to lose weight and neither was in a good place, so it was really just ‘nice’ – not enough to trigger independent contact, but enough that when the chance came up to meet again with the same mutual friend, we jumped. I will never forget the moment of Lisa coming down the stairs at Brigham & Women’s Hospital where she worked in Boston – she was gorgeous, big smile, and I was just absolutely struck. I had totally thinned out by then, and she remarked at how great I looked, and we’ve never been out of touch for more than a couple of days since!
3. The Park Street Dunkin Donuts Story
This one I have posted about before here and here, and it was so great being able to show it all to the boys last weekend, now that they are older and can better put it in context. And it is really fun to chat about it now, since the four of us are constantly connected via iMessage and we realize how much of a non-issue it would have been today.
4. The Streets of Boston
The summer of 1990 was spent with Lisa and I talking all the time, and every weekend spending hours wandering around Boston and Cambridge and Somerville talking about everything. We would go to restaurants on occasion, grab an ice cream (I was on a banana ice cream kick back then), sometimes a drink, but generally just enjoy each other’s company. We weren’t ‘dating’ at the time – which after we WERE dating caused everyone to roll their eyes because we were pretty obviously falling in love – but these moments built the foundation of our lives together. We STILL love just hanging out.
5. The Blue Hills Hike
Speaking of walking, I wanted to share stuff I knew from growing up with Lisa that summer. So for one of our first weekends, I took Lisa to Blue Hills in Milton, and also made some fruit salad. Two important lessons:
– Lisa is allergic to apples, and doesn’t like grapefruit or banana … which made up about 60% of my fruit salad.
– The ‘Great Blue Hill’ is 635ft elevation, starting from ~200ft at the base … and took us less than 30 minutes to climb and we barely broke a sweat. Very different perspective than as an obese teenager who thought it was a good and challenging climb! haha
6. The Move to Albany
Lisa’s parents and uncle came out to move her from Boston to Albany, and I brought my car as well. I stayed over the weekend to help her get set up – and frankly to get more time with her before leaving. I had been getting hints that she didn’t want a relationship, which reinforced things she had said earlier in the summer … but it turns out I misinterpreted what she said, and the ‘hints’ were really her frustration … and finally she made a move, otherwise I might have left that Sunday and we would never have been together.
7. Twin Peaks by Phone
One thing we shared was watching Twin Peaks every week. This was an amazing and before-its-time show by David Lynch, and was loads of fun. Because it was surreal and had interesting characters and was something we shared, it was always great for conversations. And we started off talking before and after … then started talking during the whole show. Fun stuff! Thank goodness for unlimited long distance!
8. Engagement Weekend
One fun weekend we had early on when Lisa was in Albany was going to the Williams Inn (in western Mass). It was incredibly fun and romantic … and did I mention it was romantic? Um .. yeah. Anyway, in March of 1991 I was plotting to ask Lisa to marry me, I had picked a ring out at Descenza diamondsin Framingham based on stuff she liked when we looked in different stores. I talked to her parents and asked for their blessing, but then I needed to set the scene. So I booked a less expensive weekend for us at the Gregory House Inn outside of Albany.
I arranged dinner, and in the car had flowers, champagne and so on. I am definitely NOT a ‘propose in a restaurant’ kind of guy, so I tried to work it so after we went back to the room after dinner I would head to the car and grab those things then come back and propose. But Lisa wanted to come with me and so on … and I was getting irritable. But eventually it happened, I grabbed my stuff and proposed, she said YES (more like ‘so THAT is why you’ve been funky all night!), and we went on to have a fantastic rest of the weekend!
9. The Wedding
There are so many stories I could tell about our wedding, but here are a few quickies:
– Going to see ‘A League of Their Own’ the week before. Because we lived in Mass and the Wedding was in Lake George NY, we took two weeks vacation and came up the week before. By the middle of that week we HAD to get out of the house for several hours. So we went to the movies, strolled around what is now Six Flags Great Escape, and so on. We even exchanged our gifts in the car in the parking lot.
– Rehearsal dinner – one of the many things we kept in our control, was at a German family restaurant just outside of Lake George village. The owner and chef was names Ute, and she was an amazing cook and wonderful person. It was one of those things that was probably not what anyone else would have chosen, but everyone enjoyed the food and location and had a great time and it is a fantastic memory.
– It was still only 50F by about noon time on our wedding day … which is pretty funny as we are experiencing very fall-like conditions now.
– Many of our memories about getting ready are of how little was actually about US. Sure, I can get ready in 15 minues total, but there was all kinds of other drama going on. As for Lisa, she had her plan laid out, but never fully got to execute it … oh well, by the time we were together on the alter none of it mattered.
– We missed too much of our reception when we went to get changed into our party/going away clothes and had to deal with the people who sabotaged our room . Funny … not.
– After the party finished, we took a horse and carriage ride around the village … after all of the rushing and noise and so on, it was a wonderful and magical moment together.
10. Captain Daniel Stone Inn
For our 6-month anniversary we found another Inn – this one in Brunswick Maine. It would allow us to go shopping in Freeport, at the Kittery outlets, and wasn’t too long of a ride from home. Since our anniversary was the same weekend as Valentine’s Day, we were able to get a ‘romance package’ – in a room with a jacuzzi, bottle of champagne, and just an incredible weekend. We would go back a couple of more times, had loads of fun each time. We also tried going there for New Year’s Eve once … well, that wasn’t quite as thrilling.
11. Sweetwater Forest and Cape Cod Camping
During the early parts of our marriage, we did more than a few camping trips, and it was a great way to spend extra time down on Cape Cod without spending a ton of money. Plus, we could bring the Coleman stove, make coffee and eggs in the morning. Every time we went – either to Nickerson State Park or to Sweetwater Forest – we had fun. Our early vacations were around our anniversary, so we got dressed up in the tent before going out for a fancy dinner!
I had so many memories of Cape Cod from growing up – so we would go to Dennis, cruise Route 6A through Brewster, and of course go to the Dairy Queen at the Orleans rotary! In my mind, it was a magical place – in reality it was at a rotary, meaning too much traffic speeding by and leading it to be noisy and smelly and dirty. But it never stopped us from going back – or stopped Lisa from making jokes at my expense.
12. The Year of the Cat
In 1995 we had a couple of major milestones
– We bought our first house
– We had more miscarriages, including the one furthest along, and struggled to get pregnant. That Christmas was very melancholy, and even though we were with others we were very much alone – but together. We also got our cat T.J. from the shelter, and got our traditional Lenox ornament as a cat and called it ‘the year of the cat’.
13. Struggles and Support
Not being able to get pregnant easily, and having multiple miscarriages is a very difficult thing, and especially when friends around us were saying things like ‘we’re thinking a fall pregnancy’ and BAM it happened. Also, everyone in our family had their first child within a year of marriage, so they really didn’t understand. In fact ‘not understanding’ described many of the interactions we had around that time – so we sought out a support group on the advice of our OB. There was a great local one starting up (OK, it was 45 minutes away in Framingham) facilitated by a therapist, so we joined.
For many months that group of several couples was a great weekly sounding board. We shares struggles, joys, advice on dealing with others, and so on. I cannot stress enough the foundation that group provided for us during that time.
Then we got pregnant – and although it was what EVERYONE there wanted … we discovered that because it happened to someone else, they had a hard time being happy. As it ended up three of the five couples got pregnant within 6 months of each other, with the youngest and oldest couples not having success and terminatng contact with each couple that got pregnant. One couple in specific was quite spiteful and said some hurtful thing … which was sad after our shared experiences.
As we came out of that group something was driven home – having the external support was nice in some ways, but ultimate it is Lisa and I against the world.
14. Our Miracle Child
As we entered 1996 we were ready for fertility treatments, as we were having a hard time getting pregnant (and no luck keeping them). We were going to our OB/GYN, and Lisa thought she was pregnant, and I was afraid to accept it … but she was. The expectation was that we would lose it again … but we didn’t. Then we saw the heartbeat … and just kept on being safe and careful.
In July we were at a cookout at my aunt’s apartment, and were on a second-floor deck … which collapsed. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but we called hte OB and he told us to go to the hospital. The ER nurses were a bit dubious about the ‘deck collapsed’ story and questioned her separately. They did the non-stress test and checked on the baby – everything was fine.
Lisa was put on bedrest towards the end as her ankles turned to ‘snausages’ as the doctor said, but everything stayed fine. At the end – no contractions, two weeks post due-date scheduled c-section – Lisa would sit and have ice cream and Mrs Richardson’s fudge sauce on her belly and we swore the baby didn’t want to come out and lose out on that goodness!
But on October 2nd we were blessed with Daniel Patrick, the baby we really never accepted was coming until we held him in our arms.
15. Another Miracle
After Danny, the OB said ‘if you want more, start trying again after 6 months. Lo and behold, when we were on Cape Cod for a vacation when Danny was 8 months old (we’d moved up to renting cottages at that point) Lisa swore she was pregnant – and was!
This was a much more difficult pregnancy – spotting, pains, and generally just a sense of not feeling well throughout. That followed into the c-section – Chris was breech, the c-section uncovered massive scar tissue Lisa had built that fused her internals together, and her system refused to restart for nearly two weeks (ilius). In addition, Chris turned blue (i.e. stopped breathing) twice and ended up in the NICU, where he was at least twice the size of the other kids!
But after two weeks, we came home all together – and I call it a miracle, because there was one night where I wondered if I might go home alone!
But there were no more miracles – our doctor warned us another pregnancy could be fatal, so I got surgery to make sure that did’t happen! But we are so lucky and happy to have the two beautiful boys we have!
16. First Disney Vacation
A few years later, we wanted to take the boys to Disney World – so we used a travel agent and arranged the trip. Danny was 4.5 and Chris was 3, and Disney was having one of the first Star Wars Weekends – and the kids knew of the characters and Episode One at least. There are so many great memories from that trip, but here are two:
– We were staying at a Holiday Inn in Kissimmee, and the room had kids bunk beds and a bed for us, but no inside sitting area. Instead there were chairs and a table … outside the front door! It wasn’t a real ‘deck’, and we had the view of a parking area and a bungee jumping place, but each night we’d get a drink and sit and relax together. It was fabulous.
– The had a Jedi Training Academy, where they would pick volunteers from the audience. And Danny really wanted to go, but was to shy to put his hand up and push forward at all … but that didn’t stop Chris! The guy pointed vaguely in our direction – and off Chris went! You could tell they were looking for older kids who could follow directions, but once Chris was on stage, they rolled with it. I have an amazing video of his battle with Darth Vader that he finds mortally embarassing … so I won’t share it here. 🙂
17. Every Challenge Made Us Stronger
Even in the early years of our marriage we noticed something – when faced with challenges like infertility and miscarriage, while we saw many around us crumbling and relationships ending, Lisa and I grew stronger.
When Danny had pneumonia or had to get his kidney replumbed, we grew stronger; when Chris’ second grade teacher thought he had ADHD and wanted him medicated and the first doctor was only to happy to oblige, we worked hard in our belief, and ended finding out he had the opposite … and the problem was he was just plain bored and unchallenged in her class.
Every step of the way, whenever there was an obstacle in our path we would join hands and cross that barrier, and would be stronger and better for having done so.
18. The Worst of Times
If I had to pick the low-point in our marriage – and EVERY marriage has ups and downs – it would be the Fall I had to travel a week each month to Philadelphia for work for my Six Sigma training and project. The three weeks I was home were incredibly stressful as I tried to do a month of work in three weeks, and Lisa and the boys had a routine that pretty much didn’t require me, so I felt left out. My running had more or less stopped as I tried to get into work earlier to get home sooner, and our eating in general went to crap. We both gained weight, felt lousy physically, emotionally, and within the marriage – and we had a couple of external voices that seemed all too happy to inject problems between us.
So what happened? We talked – and listened – to each other. My project ended. I started running again. We started eating better. And we realized how much we hated how things had been going. And while we have certainly fought more than a couple of time over the last 13 or so years since … we have never seen a low like THAT again.
19. The Big Move
I have also talked about our move from Massachusetts to New York several times, so here are a few more thoughts:
– The down-point was when Lisa was stuck in the house waiting for closing and we were having basement water issues, and I was in Corning for a month and my thyroid was dying fast and I had no energy – loads of stress that month!
– Lisa noticed that moving here and working for Corning changed me – I became much more open and chatty. Maybe it was my thyroid medicine? Who knows – I am happy with the result.
– The schools here are excellent, and the boys have had great opportunities – when I talk about things keeping us here, right now it is largely finishing high school for the kids.
– There is so much great natural stuff to do – we have had great times hiking and biking and kayaking and so on throughout the Finger Lakes region.
20. Back to the Cape
We went back to Massachusetts in 2008, but not again until 2012. But when we sat on the deck on Cape Cod in 2012, we started talking about buying a place like that to retire … but after going back this summer we know we could move there much sooner! I don’t know if or when it will happen … but I am enjoying dreaming about it together!
21. Working Together
While in Corning it seems like so many spouses work together because everyone works for Corning, elsewhere that is much more rare. But I look at the times we have worked together as some of my best times:
– MADI – Mass Destination Imagination – creative problem solving group. The last year Lisa and I led the team to the state championship back in Worcester. It was an incredible experience.
– Odyssey of the Mind – similar to DI, OM is another kid-centric creative problem-solving group that we led after moving out here to NY.
– Nanoscience – while Lisa was working at the SDC, she was teaching a summer Nanotechnology program, and enlisted me to help out. The programs were her design, I was there as her helper, and we had an absolute blast with those kids – many of whom we still see in the schools.
22. A New Chapter
Something happened after the boys settled into high school: suddenly they didn’t need babysitting, and we could do things ourselves. And guess what? We HAVE! When the kids were little we hardly got out together – we had no real support, so we took to including the kids on all of the dinners out and so on. And we had loads of fun – but needed some alone time.
Now that we can just go out – we have; from hikes to dinners to general fun times together, just sitting having a coffee or wine or water somewhere, walking around, shopping, or anything … whatever we do it is sure to be fun!
Bonus: Best friends.
Through all of the years we’ve been together, we’ve been lucky to discover that after all these years, we are STILL best friends!
To Lisa – I love you more now than ever before, and look forward to all that life brings us in the future!