Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On Marriage

Congratulations to Marilyn’s granddaughter, Jessi, on her impending wedding. With grandma Marilyn and her cute sailor husband of many years as role models, Jessi is well on her way to happiness with Juan. I can just tell.

Marilyn’s blog got me thinking about my own nuptials. Jim and I just celebrated our twentieth anniversary on the 18th of March. Why March in the Northeast when you have the beautiful fall foliage, the spectacular weather of June, or any other month that would do better than a dreary, cold, spate of days, you ask? Jim had just started his new teaching job and the school calendar dictated two weeks off at the end of every March. We decided to get married on the day after St. Patrick’s Day and with the little money we had, jet off to lovely Cancun for a week of R&R after the big day.

We had so little money to travel that my father, who had stayed up all night after the wedding so that he wouldn’t oversleep, picked us up at the new Hilton in our adjacent town and drove us to the airport. Nothing says romance like having your father drop you off for your honeymoon! We got to Mexico in good time, went through customs, and checked into our hotel room where we promptly fell asleep for what seemed like two days. We were very young when we got married by today’s standards (early- to-mid 20s) and didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about traveling. Or take into account that the last two weeks of March in Cancun would be filled with Spring Break revelers and not too many honeymooners. And extended American families with more than the requisite 2.3 children. But we made the best of it. Our room was nice, and everything was super cheap, a boon for a newly-minted teacher and his editorial assistant wife. Service was interesting, though—every morning between five a.m. and six a.m., a porter would come to our room, let him or herself in, and give us clean towels, despite the fact that we were sound asleep. We never did figure that one out and were never able to make them stop.

When I awoke after our extended nap, I realized that I didn’t pack a bathing suit, so our first moments of being awake on our actual honeymoon were spent shopping in downtown Cancun looking for a bathing suit that was a) not a bikini, b) not a string bikini, and c) not something my mother would deem “flattering” (the kiss of death). I settled on an $80.00 pink and black Speedo which was functional, but least of all, “flattering.” I held onto that bathing suit for a long time, despite the fact that the elastic in the leg holes went back in the early 1990s and I couldn’t wear it in public.

The week was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, the water calm, tranquil, and warm. We even had the added bonus of running into some Spring Break participants who had graduated from our college and who were in awe of the fact that we, too, had chosen Cancun as our destination. We started to run out of money toward the end of the week and decided to chance the local fare, away from the hotel. That proved to be our fatal mistake.

The local food was delicious. We were careful about what we ordered. We assiduously avoided the water. We did everything we thought would keep us safe, eating in a country that we had heard might make you the recipient of Montezuma’s Revenge. We were doing great, enjoying local delicacies and culinary delights and had made it through the week, our budget intact. We headed off to the airport, a little sunburned, but relaxed after a week-long jaunt to tropical climes and got on the plane with all of the rest of the Spring Breakers, so happy that we were now able to start spending our life together.

We were somewhere between North Carolina and South Carolina—my best guess—when it appeared that I was bringing home either an intestinal parasite, salmonella, or some other exotic case of food poisoning. We managed to make it to our apartment just as my fever hit one hundred and four degrees and all hell broke loose. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Long story short? In the space of twenty-four hours, we had lived most of our vows, specifically the “in sickness and in health” part. I was sick for two weeks, but managed to avoid hospitalization. I stayed in pajamas the entire time, too weak to put on anything with buttons or a zipper. Jim went back to school, checking on me sporadically throughout the day, and coming home not to a home-cooked meal, but a can of Lysol, a sponge, and a bucket full of bleach to begin his nightly rounds of disinfecting.

OK, so maybe we shouldn’t have Jessi and Juan read this post lest they turn tail and run for the hills. But something tells me that they are a bit more savvy about the world than me and my husband were at the time. All I can say is that after that auspicious start, our marriage has been smooth sailing, which is what happens when you marry your best friend, your soul mate, and the love of your life. Not even a little parasite will get in the way.

Maggie Barbieri

1 comment:

  1. My theory is true love emerges after you must care for and clean up after a sick spouse. If you can do that, no matter how gross it might be, you know the love is strong enough to survive anything.

    Great story!