Looks Like We Made It

In the summer of 1994, a friend who’d been asking me out (I was hard-set on the ‘friend’ part) helped me move from an international dorm into my first official New York apartment. My dad, a man of very few words who had been (even at his most-enthusiastic) just lukewarm about any male in my life up to that time, told me “This is someone you want to keep around.”

My dad’s opinion meant the world to me. I can’t think of a time before or since then that his advice sent me in the wrong direction. My helpful friend went home to visit family just a week or so after my move, and his two-week absence left me with time to think about what my dad had said. I couldn’t wait for the call announcing my friend’s return to New York, and when he returned on the 4th of July, there were fireworks. Months later, that guy and I were engaged, and months after that – 25 years ago today – we were married in a wedding that was really, truly beautiful in every way.

That winter day was the last time all six of my mom’s brothers were together and they sang – a dream come true bringing back sweet memories from when I was just a little kid. There was great food, a Renaissance band (lute serenades for the bride and groom!), a small army of very tall centerpiece candles (it was 1995, after all), a ridiculous number of stargazer lilies (which now make me congested), and an astounding space (now reconstructed and repurposed several times over). The early snowstorm that subtracted eleven guests from our small list let us spread out and relax more than we’d expected, and in hindsight I’m especially glad we did. Quite a number of our guests from that small affair have passed in the years since, including my dad, a collection of uncles and aunts, a grandmother, several beloved family friends, and two dear friends each cruelly taken just past 30 years old.

This conservatory dropout from Pennsylvania and the banking-industry trainee from Bulgaria set out to discover the world from a home base in the Big Apple. We did a lot of traveling, racking up at least three weeks of vacations plus weekend jaunts every year in our first decade together, overall hitting more than ten foreign countries along with making repeated trips to Bulgaria and seeing countless domestic destinations… in the last few years with our kids in tow.

In our time together we saw plenty of struggles and heartbreak in addition to the joy we sought at every turn. Eventually things didn’t go nearly as well as we’d hoped. Our marriage and our finances were a shambles; our family, broken. Our divorce was final just shy of our 19th wedding anniversary.

One thing we decided to do as we came to the decision to part ways was to commit to being friends *to* each other, even when we didn’t feel we could be friends *with* each other. That wasn’t only for our kids’ benefit, but also for ours. We have too much history to simply throw it away, and we’ve found a way to continue to honor it. Because of the work we’ve both put in, I can feel good about commemorating this day as a good day, not as a reason for regret. The promises we made 25 years ago may now be different in how they are executed, but there is much about them that remains. Sometimes a silver anniversary is a silver lining, after all.

Честита годишнина, Севи.

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