20 years.

We just celebrated 20 years of marriage. For real. It's a miracle.

The miracle, though, is not that our marriage survived the last 20 years, it's that it survived the first one. Whew, that year was a doozie. We were young and poor and stupid and selfish; learning to be adults, and partners, and parents all at once. It was the perfect storm.

One day, right after our first anniversary, we had a massive fight. Like, a HUGE fight. It was the kind where you're screaming and yelling at each other, hissing the word “divorce” like you just pulled the pin out of a grenade with your teeth. ~ Boom! It's over. We're through. ~ But that night we were supposed to go to a party for my work, a Hawaiian luau, and we had a babysitter coming over and everything, people were expecting us, we'd already paid for tickets. So we resigned ourselves to get through it, to bear each other's company for one last evening. We could eat, drink, and pretend to be merry one... last... time. It would be a long night, we knew, but we thought it would be a good way to cool our tempers. When we got home we would be able to discuss the details of screwing each other over our impending separation with clear heads and calm voices.

We drove to the party in Hawaiian themed clothes and stone cold silence. We sat amongst friends and laughed and talked, but not to each other.

Then, like every proper Luau, there was a hula-hoop competition, and when they announced it our eyes met, we gazed at each other across the roasted pig's head, and it was clear we were thinking the same thing. “We own this!” Without a plan, without even a word, he took my hand and we marched onto the stage. In one fluid motion, I snatched a hula hoop from the emcee and he swung me up to perch on his massive shoulders. I straddled his neck and flung the hoop around my own, twisting it in sweeping circles, and he stood up tall with his arms wide open, we were like a totem-pole made of white people, nodding to the crowd, “YES. WE REALLY ARE THIS AMAZING.”

You cannot make this shit up.
Needless to say, we won.

That night we won it all. I mean, obviously, we won the respect and admiration of onlookers and we won the Grand Prize (a blue, plastic pitcher with a tray and four tumblers), but, more importantly, we won back our young marriage. Because if you can win a hula-hoop competition together when you hate each other's guts? You can do ANYTHING.

That's the night we realized we would grow old side by side, and probably die holding hands on the same day.

I feel like I should say something super encouraging now, like, “After twenty years, every single day is as thrilling as winning a hula-hoop competition!” But that would be a lie from the devil. Twenty years later, we still fight dirty, we're still kind of stupid and selfish, and we have somehow managed to regress back to being poor. But I will say this; After twenty years, we understand we're just better together.

I suppose that's what we learned that fateful night, when we dominated the hula-hoop competition. We can do things together that neither of us could or would ever dream of doing alone – not just alone, but specifically without the other. I would not be who I am without this specific man holding me up, and he could not be who he is without me, and only me, perched on his shoulders. After 20 years, we know that when we each do our part for our partner, we both win.

Beyond the glory of the hula-hoop, we now share a twenty year history of life well-lived, wars waged, battles fought, hard won victories. Our marriage is wrapped in memories that tell us, Yes, together we are this amazing, and every year our anniversary comes around again, to remind us we have a whole lot of amazingness to celebrate.

I read Gone Girl like a month ago, and it made me wish I'd forced El Chupacabra on a clever scavenger hunt which simultaneously revealed how well he actually knows me and culminated in an awesome gift that was perfectly representative of twenty years of marriage. But Google told me twenty years is the “china” anniversary and that's just dumb. So, since we have no need for the dishes kind of china and we can't afford to go to the actual kind of China, we settled on spending our anniversary night at the adorable B&B where we spent our wedding night. Cute!

And for El Chupacabra? A watch. But not just any watch. A kick-ass wooden watch from JORD. (Seriously. Have you seen these watches? They're incredibly cool! And I gotta say, since it's only been twenty years, apparently I forgot I married a man with wrists like a wooly mammoth, so the watch didn't fit – duh! - and I was super bummed, and my husband was like, “I'm sure they can just send more links.”, and I was like, “NO! IT'S A WOOD WATCH. IT'S FANCY!! YOU CAN'T JUST ADD MORE LINKS WHENEVER YOU WANT!” So I emailed the company and asked if it's possible to add links because I knew it wasn't and I wanted to prove I was right, and they were all, “Sure. No problem. How many links do you need?”... So, um, yeah. JORD makes awesome watches, and has great customer service. Highly recommend!) 

You'd think I'd know by now that he's a huge person. 
Overall, our anniversary was a lovely, romantic evening. For dinner we had chili-cheese onion rings and beer, and for dessert we had indigestion. We caught the show "A Steady Rain" at a local theatre where we were so much younger than the average patron, they probably all scoffed out our meager 20 years of marriage like we were still in diapers. (Actually, I'd be willing to wager that more than few of them were in diapers.) Anyway. It was a fun night out.

We talked about how we're both pretty excited to see what the next 20 years has to throw at us - I mean, bring it on. We already won the hula-hoop competition. So, basically? We've already won at life.

Happy 20th Anniversary, El Chupacabra!!
I would make a hula-hoop totem pole with you any day!