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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Today, 25 years ago, I married my best friend. Or, I allowed my parents to give me away to some guy who stole me from them. One thing or another.

Ralph and I have been together officially since 1989, and married since 1997. So in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary I decided that I would come up with 25 things about us. Not anything in particular. Just things. Some inspired by perusing digital photos that only go back as far as 1999. Some inspired by perusing my memory, which isn’t the most reliable thing you’ve ever listened to, but technically it’s my word against his and with no Instagram documentation, who’s to say who’s right?

Grab a cocktail and join me. My parents bought us an anniversary blender so we could expand our cocktail repertoire, so it only seems fair.

In no particular order, here are 25 things about us, on our anniversary, which also doubles as today’s word.

Thing 1. We have the same comforter we had when we got married.

Not on our bed, but we still have it. It’s torn on one side but I can’t part with it because… it’s the same comforter we had when we got married. If you look carefully at the photo, you might also notice the aforementioned bear I used as a pillow for much of our early lives together.

Thing 2. Our first office is multicolored.

I painted the “second bedroom” in our first apartment blue and purple. We had a lot of stuff, as evidenced by the sagging shelves. My aunt even knitted us an afghan that matched.

Thing 3. We try really hard to find a place to have breakfast.

During one phase, we drove all over the place, weekend after weekend, looking for someplace to have pancakes. It was surprisingly difficult. Most often, the problem was that the place we discovered via Google maps was closed. Permanently. One day we happened upon a restaurant in a since-forgotten town where we did get pancakes, except they were full of holes where maybe chocolate chips should have been. But they had a giant Elmo-like thing outside so that was basically the highlight of the day.

Thing 4. We have a thing about chickens.

At some point one or the other of us decided we want to keep chickens. That instigated a general obsession with chickens wherever we saw them. One day, driving down a highway in California, we randomly pulled off for a stop in a town named Cotati. We’d been talking about wanting to see chickens when there in front of us, as we filled our gas tank, were a bunch of chickens wandering freely between the gas station and the Walgreens parking lot across the street. Traffic quite literally deferred to chickens as they meandered their way across a busy multi-street intersection. Naturally, we stopped a while to admire them and take photos.

Thing 5. We have a Pier 1 obsession.

I’m stunned that Pier 1 ever went out of business considering how much stuff we bought from them. If there was a nook or cranny to be filled, we filled it. People would come to our house and the first thing they would ask us is what was new from Pier 1.

Thing 6. Ralph has a thing about Oreos.

He is a Double Stuf fanatic. I, however, mostly just like the cookies. That works out very well for us because I open up two Double Stufs, make him a quadruple, and eat the extra cookie. We are both happy.

Thing 7. We use a lot of pillows.

Honestly. Every time he takes one of mine I get another. It kind of never ends.

Thing 8. We have a lot of parties.

A few years after we got married we bought a condo. Before we even had the stove installed we started inviting all our friends for barbecues and parties. People drank and ate a lot. People danced on our furniture. People spilled wine on our brand new carpet. People remembered those parties for many years to come. Most of them included hot dogs. Good times.

Thing 9. Our condo floods. Twice.

The first time, we came downstairs to an inch of water. We were alerted to this fact not by the water itself but by two cats sitting on the steps staring down wondering what the heck was happening and why their breakfast was interrupted. Our hot water heater had leaked, which resulted in all of the cabinets, floors and sheetrock being torn down and an almost year long remodel during which all four of us lived upstairs. The second time was much less dramatic, but we still had to have all the hardwood floors replaced.

Thing 10. We drink a whole bottle of Fonseca.

Before we got into whiskey and bourbon and cocktails and things, we discovered Fonseca. In the town where we lived there was a BYO Mexican restaurant so one day we stopped at the liquor store across the street to find something to bring. Over tacos and chips we drank the whole bottle. It wasn’t until much later that we learned you aren’t supposed to drink the whole bottle at once.

Thing 11. We have a Doctor Who Christmas.

We both love Doctor Who and one year we found someone who painted custom ornaments. We sent her photos of all different Doctor Who characters and she painted them all for us. Every year we added a few more. Our entire tree was decorated with those ornaments and white and blue lights for many years.

Thing 12. We like cupcakes.

When we like a thing, we go all out. A bakery opened near us in Red Bank that let you choose how you wanted to create your cupcakes. You picked a cake, a filling, an icing and a topping. We studied the menu so hard that when we showed up with a written list of everything we wanted, the people working there told us how impressed they were by our efficiency. They asked if we’d give them our list so they could hang it up as reference for people who never knew what to order. We were happy to oblige.

Thing 13. I save everything.

In college, Ralph took the plastic packaging from some cupcakes and drew a portrait of us in permanent marker. I still have this bit of plastic today.

Thing 14. We just match.

What else can I say.

Thing 15. We like mojitos.

To date, our favorite mojito is at Cuba in New York. When one of our favorite local Holmdel restaurants told us on multiple occasions that they were out of mint, we started bringing them bunches of it from our own garden so they could make drinks for us.

Thing 16. We turn our office closet into a TARDIS.

It took weeks upon weeks of research and shopping but we found all the right parts to make it authentic. Everyone told us it was a bad idea for resale value. We didn’t care. Eventually we sold our condo for a great price just as it was.

Thing 17. We perfect cinnamon rolls.

One day while watching the Food Network we decided to try Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon roll recipe. It was a great, and repeated, success. We even had the photos blown up and printed on canvas to decorate the kitchen.

Thing 18. We both love books.

Not always the same ones, but no matter where we are, from New York to California, we always find a book store and buy something.

Thing 19. Ralph makes a fire.

My city boy husband found his inner mountain man at the Salish Lodge in Washington. We had a ridiculous suite with two fireplaces, and spent the whole time making multiple fires a day. Once, we did something that resulted in ash exploding everywhere and had to call housekeeping to help us uncover the furniture.

Thing 20. We decide that Sunflower Cottage is ours.

From the moon that greeted us, to the cat that visited with us and the horses that hung out next to our window, we both agree that if there is one place we have to go again, it’s to Olema. We planned to stay three days and spent three weeks instead.

Thing 21. We go on cruise.

We didn’t take many vacations in our early years, so the cruise to Bermuda was a big deal. Maybe not surprisingly one of the things I remember most is that there was a soft serve ice cream station on the boat that you could use any time. I also remember that our cats were very mad at us for leaving them and would not talk to us for a while when we got back.

Thing 22. I try to teach Ralph how to cook.

Ralph decided he wanted me to teach him how to cook. He wanted a two week long menu, so I carefully crafted a curriculum that would get him started with the basics and progress through more difficult tasks. He was very motivated. He bought an apron, we wrote up the menu on chalkboards and put it in the kitchen. We got as far as meatloaf before he decided cooking was just too much going on at once and opted to leave it to me.

Thing 23. We finally make it to Pilgrimage.

We’ve been to Franklin, Tennessee many times. Many times incidentally as we’ve traveled elsewhere, sometimes on purpose. We always saw signs for the Pilgrimage music festival but were never here at the right time. When we finally moved here, the universe conspired to keep us from going. Last summer, we finally got tickets. The drinks were terrible, but the food trucks were amazing and the music was delightful. It was a memorable experience that we would absolutely do again.

Thing 24. We’re committed to walking.

Ralph has never been a walking person. I have always been a walking person. When we moved to Franklin and discovered some of the parks and trails, Ralph finally came over to the dark side and started walking with me. Once we got in a groove we went every single day. We even bought rain ponchos so we could go during stormy weather. These days, not much stops us from getting out to walk together.

Thing 25. We shoot things.

I was always generally opposed to guns, but Ralph was interested in target shooting, so we got our New Jersey firearm permits. We went to the firing range and took some classes, and ever since, one of our most relaxing pastimes has been doing some target shooting. You can’t really think about your aggravating job or that annoying person when your mind is on safely hitting the center of a target. Other thing we learned: you don’t need permits or anything else in Tennessee, except for the ability to show up and shoot a gun. Hm.

Bonus Thing. We’re still pretty fabulous.

In the past 25 years we’ve started multiple businesses together, traveled many states, tried numerous cocktails, met countless interesting people. We’ve been at varying stages more or less fat, wrinkled and disheveled.

But overall we’ve spent time doing things together that we enjoy, helping each other through the things we don’t, chuckling over the past and planning for the future. Maybe… MAYBE… we’ve had one or two fights, probably because Ralph left his socks somewhere ridiculous. But my best friend is the one I work with every day and share a blanket with at night, even though he hogs it and then complains that he never gets enough anyway.

He eats whatever I cook, buys cookies whenever I want them, and never complains when I wear my old shredded Brigantine sweatshirt four days in a row. He may mention it, but he ever complains.

I’ll take 25 more years of that.

Photo, top: a picture of a picture out of our wedding photo album of us looking much younger and cuter, but maybe not half as fabulous. Photo, bottom: us on our anniversary tonight at the Cork & Cow, sharing a cocktail and looking pretty darn fabulous.