Wednesday, December 01, 2004

the number nine

Nine years of marriage.

It's funny how, as young couples, the first few years are so important. Every anniversary, beginning with the first one, celebrated with paper, acquires incredible significance.

We count the first because everything is so fresh. Time moves so quickly: the wedding, the honeymoon, the initial adjustments and recalibrations of bathroom use, the tangled sheets at night, at afternoons, in the morning. It is a milestone in our world of insta-pop-flash-download-rip.

From the second to the fourth, we celebrate in big ways, leading up to the fifth anniversary, complete with anecdotes of how we met, what she said, how he smiled, what it felt, remembering who did what when in bursts of laughter, thinking how we feel so old, so mature, having reached five incredible years.

Sixth, seventh, eighth, these terms of ordinal succession are quieter than the rest, neither big or small enough to celebrate; no one knows what the sixth or eight anniversary's material symbol is - glass? organza? hair?. When we do celebrate, it's with a small dinner, like an embarassed admission of something almost forgotten but still important, like your mother's birthday. Those quiet years are times of building annexes to our houses, finishing payments on the car, taking a vacation somewhere not too expensive, dealing with the supposed itch of seven years or so.

But the ninth?

The ninth has a surprising quality. It's like being seated to someone you know in a moviehouse. You're sitting in silence, munching popcorn, watching the film playing out before you (is it a comedy? a melodrama? an art film of nothing happening but with such painful beauty?). Then that person next to you suddenly turns to you with an explosive laugh and starts tickling you, sending your bag of popcorn hurtling into the air as you wrestle with the fingers that assault you in the disturbed darkness.

It's like that because the ninth is prelude to the tenth, which, though exactly a year away, beckons impatiently "Come on! It's not so far!".

But believe me, it's better to linger and just hang out with number nine for a while.

ME: "So, which are you? Some say pottery, some say leather? Which is it? What do you symbolize?"

"Love, of course," Nine says, rising from the sticky moviehouse floor to reclaim its seat next to you. "Now shhh. I love this part of the movie."


Happy Ninth, Beloved.


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