This post is several days late-in-coming...but better late than never, right?
I met That Guy I Married in June of 1994 in Seattle, during the Grateful Dead summer tour. I didn't see him again until the New Jersey shows in August...but once he said where he was from, I instantly remembered the blonde guy with the big backpack (which got stuck in a large piece of abstract art as he tried to walk through it), who helped me find my way back to the large parking lot where we all set up camp.
Once we met again that August, we were virtually inseparable for many, many months afterward. We continued to travel, sometimes following the Grateful Dead, sometimes going to Rainbow Gatherings and sometimes just going...with noplace particular to be. We ultimately landed in his hometown in Southern Illinois during the summer fo 1995. I had just found out we were expecting the first (of what seems like many;) children. He found a job building trusses and with his meager income, we creatively made a home for ourselves and prepared for our baby's birth.
We knew we would always be together but at that point in our lives, a piece of paper binding us to each otehr legally just didn't seem that important. My parents urged us to consider getting married and that December he proposed to (a VERY pregnant) me from the front seat of our 1974 VW bus with the pawn store ring that he bought me with money that he borrowed from one of his childhood best friends. We decided that it would be appropriate to take the leap on February 29th, 1996.
We arrived at the court house in Paducah, KY with our 6 week old baby, his mother and one of his sisters in tow. We signed a few papers, paid them some money and said our vows...and left there as husband and wife.
I had big dreams for our anniversary this year...what will be our last in Germany. I wanted to have a wedding to renew our vows. I wanted a mini-European vacation to make up for the honeymoon we never got to take. I wanted a hullabaloo. I wanted to be fancy. I wanted a long overdue celebration.
With the impending move back to the US, I didn't get any of that. What we got instead was news of a tragic, natural disaster in the Southern Illinois town that was our home before he joined the Army. An F4 tornado ripped through our town, killing several people and injuring many more than that. We spent most of our anniversary glued to the news and waiting to hear from friends and family. We did manage to steal away for a quick dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant...but our mood was anything but celebratory.
The tornado put things into perspective for me. My wishes for a special day are so insignificant when faced with the reality that people lost their lives, their homes and most everything inside them. It's sobering, really. I have made Germany my home for the ast 10 years and felt really reluctant to ever leave here...but the gift I got this anniversary was that I am truly feeling ready to move back to the US. To be closer to family. To be closer to HOME.