It was 9:30 in the morning, 20 years ago today. I sat in the familiar salon chair, my stylist Lisa’s fingers entangled in my curls, pinning and spraying and pinning some more. I remember feeling worried that my makeup artist was running super late… she had planned to be there by 8:30 and had just called to say she was still a half hour away. I was frantic at the possibility that I might have to do my own makeup… gasp… and on my wedding day!
My mom had already come and gone, and was waiting for me back at the house. The ceremony was at 11, and the car would arrive at my parents to bring us to the church at 10:30.
At 10:15, I remember bursting through the door of my house in my flannel and birks, veil in place, hair in cascading curls and face set with more cosmetics than I even owned. The photographer had been there for an hour, and was more than fussy at my lateness. One of my one bridesmaids was hysterical over a forgotten padded bra, and another over the lack of her specific shade of foundation.
But, in the back room, next to the air conditioner (which was cranked, combatting the midsummer humidity) I found my Mom, patiently and calmly waiting for my arrival, the eye of the storm. My gown hung elegantly from a curtain rod, crinoline beside it. I frantically pulled on stockings and tripped through lace, while Mom’s steady hands zipped and buttoned and adjusted. After a series of pictures hastily snapped by the irritated photographer, we were on our way to the ceremony.
Our wedding day was perfectly beautiful and memorable. There was sunshine hot enough to cause rivers of sweat throughout the wedding party, and bursts of rain that caused rivers of purple dye to run from crepe paper streamers strewn across Rob’s white Toyota. There were mishaps and frustrations, like when the priest introduced us to the crowd as “Mr. and Mrs. Joe DiFiglio” or when Rob’s champagne flute crashed across the table and broke in two during our toast. There were moments of pure perfection that I recognized as truly special, even in the moment… like when we danced our first dance, when I danced with my Dad, and when Rob and I posed for a picture with three healthy and happy grandmothers. I remember watching our parents dance beside us, two examples of what we had to look forward to.
We were so young. I had just turned 23 four days before, and Rob was 26. We were living in Rochester where I was finishing up graduate school for Speech and Language Pathology. I had decided I wanted to work in a hospital. Rob was already working in his field. We registered for fancy china with gold edging and neutral colored towels that would match our rental apartment’s bathroom. Our social calendar was packed, and we spent way more money than we had right or reason to on frivolous things. We thought absolutely nothing about having kids, ever. We thought we knew our plan.
We couldn’t have known what life had in store for us as we stood up on that alter in a church I’ve since separated myself from. I was sure I was destined to be a medical speech pathologist; classroom teaching had never entered my mind. While parenthood was never out of the question, we could not have imagined that three kids (including twins!) would be in our future.
20 years later, today, I’m sitting on the couch with 9 year old Chloe literally perched on my feet. Next to me, Remi is licking her chops having just stolen/inhaled a cheese bagel off the counter. She pooped four times on her walk this morning, just to be extra fun. Madeline is still sleeping upstairs, fully immersed in preteenhood. I dropped Ben off at goalie camp this morning and lingered a minute as I marveled at the immense length of him as he walked away from the car. I have a pile of curriculum to read and plan from in my kitchen and a second grade classroom that feels almost as much like home as my home does. A pile of clean, unfolded laundry and a half refinished coffee table glare at me as if reminding me to finish the projects I start. Rob is at the library, doing a job that he loves, in this amazing western Massachusetts town we call home. Our lives are full, and we are happy.
We’ve learned so much about life and love in these twenty years… lessons of gratitude, perseverance, optimism, hard work, and joy. He gets me in a way that nobody ever has… he sees my good intentions but calls me on my bullshit and he pushes me to do my best. He reminds me to lighten up, I remind him to breathe. Our partnership has never been one of dependence… but I do think we’re more ourselves, better versions of ourselves, because we have the other.
So, today, amidst all the unfinished projects and beside our growing babies, in the middle of our perfectly imperfect, sometimes stressful but always joyful life… I still do. 💓