Michael Jackson was black. The Supreme Court was white. Nixon was in the White House. Armstrong was on the moon. The Mets, the Jets, the Celtics all won championships. Majestic Price won the Kentucky Derby. Sports Illustrated ran a feature on Roller Derby.
Woodstock. Altamont. Sesame Street. Easy Rider, Slaughterhouse-Five. Stonewall.
And this happened:
Yup. Mom and Dad got married.
That was 45 years ago. And Mom was not old enough to be drinking whatever was in that glass. Dad had hair!
If I got married today, I don’t think I would see my 45th anniversary. Even if everything went absolutely perfectly. I’m a month away from being 42. I would be 87 years old on this speculative Sapphire anniversary. Let’s face it. My odds of seeing 87 are long. Which is just fine with me. But it puts a 45th wedding anniversary out of my reach.
Also, if I got married today, please check to see that I didn’t have a stroke or get possessed by the body snatchers. Thanks.
My parents were high school sweethearts. I know. It is almost too cheesy to believe. But they were. I didn't have a high school sweetheart. I didn't have a date in high school. I never was asked to the Homecoming dance or the Prom. One time, a guy I was crushing on asked if I wanted to leave the school campus to get some lunch. Turns out it was only because I had a car and he wanted Taco Bell.
Much to the displeasure of my paternal grandmother—the same one that warned me not to try on a hat because “a black person (except, she didn’t say black person) might have tried it on”—my father proposed to my mother with a pearl ring hidden in some McDonalds fries.
And that kind of sums up their entire marriage.
Beautiful but not flashy. Basic, not pretentious. Accessible. Casual. Enduring. And it comes with a prize.
Aside—invest in pearls. In a few years, when we have ruined our oceans beyond repair, they will be more rare and valuable than diamonds.
Another aside—I love that the diamond stud in my nose comes from one of Racist Grandma's rings. Seems appropriate on so many levels.
They were married so young. Which automatically stacked the deck against them. They were such young parents. When I was 21, I couldn’t be trusted with my dad’s Jeep, let alone an infant daughter.
But they made it work. I wish I knew how. I wish I was able to learn the secrets from them. My parents are the one thing that makes me think that soul mates might be real. But I never learned the trick to finding one.
Maybe the secret is that there is no secret. It’s effort, engagement, partnership. It's trust, openness, friendship. And, let’s face it, an awful lot of luck.
Or maybe it is as simple as this: they still can make each other laugh.