I’d said it a few times over the course of the years. “You know what would be awesome? Taking the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic. THAT would be a 10th Anniversary.”
We didn’t do that. The past year, Year 10, was a cruise of a different sort. Less shuffleboard, more lashing ourselves to the masts. August 5 came, and we were tired and more than a bit concerned about what the future held. A move to a new house, in a new neighborhood. A new school for Lucas. And the fact that my Grand Plan of becoming an Internet Millionaire/Famous Author had gone exactly nowhere. Taking that cruise would have been awesome. I would have bought her a gift, except that we were watching every penny. Instead, we went for a picnic.
Balboa Park, The Prado. There is a courtyard with a fountain. It sits behind a restaurant, and when you get married there the diners look on, and look at each other, and look back at you. The airliners fly overhead, bringing people back home from L.A., Seattle, Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong. At night when you dance and drink and step out of the room – the very room where your grandparents had their reception – you understand that there are other people out in the park, tourists, joggers, buskers. It’s summer, it’s a warm starry night, and it’s the heart of the city. It registers: there are lots of people here, mulling about, where I’m celebrating my wedding. But they might as well be blades of grass. You notice this only in hindsight, years later when you’re looking at wedding photos. It’s changed a bit over the past ten years – it surprises you, or maybe it doesn’t, that you notice the fountain’s lined with some new rockwork, and there are more potted flowers. But it feels the same.
The kids run around in the grass. Beth and I drink most of a good bottle of wine and eat paté and crackers and cheese and sandwiches. Lucas asks me who Balboa Park is named after. “A Spanish explorer named Balboa, who was the first guy from Europe to see the Pacific Ocean.” “When was that, Dad?” “Oh, many, many years ago.” “Like…back in the 1980’s?” Zoë spins in circles, listening to the world’s particular song. There’s people around, as there were, as there always are. A woman in full yoga regalia is hula-hooping. A homeless man tries to fish change out of one of the fountains. A young couple walks by, as oblivious to the rest of the Universe now as we were then. I absently wonder about how to distill 10 years into a few hundred words. I watch Beth take pictures of the kids; I hear their smiles over the roar of jet engines. The planes. They fly over head, full of people, tired, anxious, excited. I think of the past ten years and I hope that all those passengers make it to where Beth and I always are, even when we’re not. Home.