November 1, 1969 I was 18 years old. Fresh out of High School, working a full time office job, and looking forward to this day when I would marry you, my sweet heart. My parents approved and gifted us with quite a bash – Catholic high mass at 10:30 am, the men in morning jackets, me in a formal wedding dress, veil, and bridesmaids. The reception was at the Offices Club on Treasure Island, quite the to-do back in the day. There were over 300 guests of which I new a handful. At 18 years old, how many people can a person know? At 21, I don’t think I knew many more.
We flew off from our wedding to our dream honeymoon at Coronado Island in San Diego. I change into a fabulous wool suit with a big wide belt, looking oh so fancy and dressed up. I don’t remember how long we stayed but I knew my dreams were coming true. I was married. Not just married, I was married to you.
On Halloween night, 1969, I was up until the wee hours of the night with my sisters, wrapping three Jordan almond in netting, tied with a nile green bow to match the bridesmaid dresses. The memories are so vivid. It was a fairy tale, a dream come true. And then it wasn’t.
We were divorced before our third anniversary, I wasn’t even 21 years old. So, why is it still so much on my mind and in my memories? I think it is because we really did love each other. No one cheated or inflicted physical abuse on the other. From the outside looking in, it was perfect. We both worked, we had a darling apartment I loved, one car, and enough money to do what we wanted, whenever we wanted. We even bought a house together.
You took me to my senior prom, and invited me to your. I couldn’t go…. I was still in grammar school and (thankfully) my parents said no. When you enlisted in the National Guard during the draft years, and was in basic training, I missed. One weekend a month you had to serve and I missed you. People’s Park in Berkeley happened, you was gone for several weeks and I missed you Looking back, I was a very young girl, that wanted desperately to be a wife and mother. You said no to kids. No yet. We had conflicting schedules and so I missed you even more.
Every night, I came home to an empty house, and went to bed alone. You came in sometime after midnight – closer to 3am – and I was asleep. You were asleep when I left for work in the morning. You were everything I wanted and more, and yet, you weren’t
I was lonely. All I wanted was a bit more time with you, and then when it was over, I had no time at all. No more chances, no more growing up together. I pined for the every other weekend we had together believing it was better than nothing. But it wasn’t and we went our separate ways.
Now, fifty years later, thru a divorce, a remarriage, three children and six grandchildren, every November 1st I think about this day. I think about you. I remember wondering what our 50th wedding anniversary would have been like. Would our kids throw us a party? Where would we be living? How many children would we have? Would we still be in love? Of course we would.
I wonder if you wonder. Our paths have crossed, mostly at funerals, and we’ve shared a bit of small talk. You are remarried. I granted you an annulment so you could marry your new wife in the Catholic Church. I did it for you. It hurt me deeply that it meant our marriage didn’t count, it didn’t really happen. Now you have children and grandchildren. And you are retired so I image your new wife has time with you more than I ever did.
I am grateful we had a bit of time to talk this year and you expressed the sorrow of leaving me alone so much. I appreciate your acknowledgment. We both agreed how much we how love our kids and grandkids and our lives turned out better than okay. And yet, sometimes I still miss you and am ashamed I gave up so easily.
There is a country western song, can’t remember who sang it but one of the lyrics is
“I was his first kiss, you will be his last.”