Seventeenth Anniversary

Saturday is my 17th wedding anniversary. It is predicted to be a beautiful day, just like it was on the day we were married. I actually drove by the church in which we married today, upon leaving a patient’s home, and it made me a touch nostalgic.

Seventeen years is a long time. Our marriage could drive in New Jersey. I looked up the traditional gift for the seventeenth wedding anniversary and it is furniture.

Furniture. That’s perfect.

I think when “they” chose the traditional gifts, even “they” knew that marriage year 17 was so lackluster that a new kitchen table, or La-Z-boy, was the only thing that could make anyone give a crap at all.  And that is best case scenario.

Gentle reader, I am not going to lie to you. No one is going to make an animated fairy tale movie about our marriage from this past year. Without getting too personal or uncomfortable, dull intermixed with crap is probably the best description of this most recent rotation around the sun.

To be clear, the love isn’t gone. Not at all. In fact, if it were, the story might take new twists and turns for greater reader interest. But. To be clear, the love isn’t gone.

Seventeen years of battling the underside of vows can take a toll. The sickness. The poorer. The worse. For all the days of our life. We’ve had multiple blessings, to be sure. Ryan and Sean being the brightest among them and it would be inaccurate to deny our gratitude.

However, with the imminent arrival of our wedding anniversary on the calendar, one can’t help but to take an inventory. And if one is honest, one isn’t always wholly satisfied with the picture, as unrealistic as it might have been.

With recognition that no piece of furniture is going to be part of our anniversary celebration, Kevin and I have talked extensively about our plans for September 30. Atlanta is a hot town with a super cool night life that we were ready to take on.

Except, I’m trying to lose weight. And one glass of wine will make me want to go to bed and not in the good way. Aoli oil, infused in the sexiest of dishes, upsets my stomach quickly and Ryan and Sean have sunday school early the next morning.

Year 17 does deserve furniture. A bed or an elevated toilet seat.

Tonight, Kevin and I came home from work - exhausted- to the boys - exhausted- and no dinner was to be found or made from what existed in the fridge. We needed to go out or order in. Ryan, feebly, suggested Tokyo Boat and we all agreed.

Tokyo Boat, for my non local friends, is a hibachi, Benihana, kind of restaurant. Yes it is a little expensive and yes my clothes smell like the food when we leave, but I can count on Tokyo Boat for filling my sons with a good week’s worth of calories, as they love the food so much.

So tonight, my tired, uninspired, screen fixated family headed out to the the Tokyo Boat for an impromptu mid week dinner out..

And I got something so much better than furniture.

After a few (ok, a lot) of “put your phone down”s, our hibachi chef arrived to prepare our fried rice feast. The typical antics of fire, utensil juggling, and food tossing ensued… and my family engaged. We were the only four in the restaurant and the hibachi chef didn’t hold back from the full routine.

The combination of meal preparation fun and good stick to the ribs food changed the family mood entirely. We were talking, and laughing, and planning, and more talking.

It isn’t that we NEVER talk and laugh at dinner, but it isn’t always easy to come by. The transformation beside this hibachi grill on this night was so great it did make me smile.

It made me smile for this reason: Kevin and I had been trying to plan a special anniversary celebration to affirm for each other that we’ve “endured” a worthy 17 years and produced a beautiful product. I, at least, wanted to think that dressing up on Saturday night would bring back those "I absolutely have no doubt about these vows" feelings and that I wouldn’t be sad to find an ottoman with a bow on it when we got home.

The 17 year you should get furniture people have it all wrong. The longer I stay married the less I think I know, but tonight I am sure I know this: for friends and family celebrating an anniversary in the mid late teens, I suggest you wish them a "Tokyo Boat, catch food in your mouth, fill your belly with rice, remember why you love your family" impromptu mid week outing. It may be small but I promise you it is mighty.

It is the best thing you could wish for them, because I am here to tell you that it is a wish/ gift that keeps the light on. Watching your kid catch a shrimp in his mouth at Tokyo Boat and forgetting about the school standardized testing is the better to the worse, the richer to the poorer and the health to the sickness.

No, it isn’t sexy. It isn’t even furniture. But enough Tokyo Boats packed together may absolutely be the string from 17 to 18, and that is the biggest gift of all.