For the most part, my best memories of Dan and I are all the things that didn’t work out, the mishaps, and mistakes, the plans gone awry, or the spontaneous, unplanned stops along the way.
After I gave birth to Audrey, I had to go on some heart medication to slow my heart rate down- mostly the doctors and the cardiologist agreed it was anxiety-related, even though I personally didn’t feel very anxious to begin with- except for the fact that I had to visit the cardiologist with a nine day old infant I was trying to nurse. At any rate, when I went back to my OB, a Korean-american woman with a very wry sense of humor. She asked me how things were going and I told her that now we’d discovered we had bed bugs and were living with my parents. “What? Bed bugs? Well, some of my best times were living in Korea with my whole family in two rooms eating eggs and tofu. You’ll see…those are some of the best times.” I didn’t think she was right at the time, at least about my particular situation. I had been so looking forward to taking my newborn home to the place I’d prepared for her- instead she was sleeping in a borrowed pack and play in my brother’s childhood room and Dan and I didn’t even get to sleep in the same room for the most part.
But these are the times we remember. It has been like this really from the first with you Dan. I met you in the city at Columbia and the chapel we’d planned on using to share our songs was locked. We found a room in the Physics building. The sandwich that you recommended to me at the place you took me was all out that day, and the movie you suggested we see afterwards, was sold out.
Our magical moment under the American elms of Poets Walk, purpled by the summer setting sun, was largely spontaneous, not planned. We took the park on the way back to the bus terminal and the surprise of it when we turned the corner was what made it memorable.
One of my favorite New Years Eves was when we met with some friends downtown for Malaysian food and then on our way uptown at about 11 pm decided spontaneously to hop off the train and see if we could see the ball drop at Times Square. Well, we were herded around block after block- nowhere near the ball- until finally we wound up at the south end of Central Park- standing on some rocks within the huge crowd. We could barely make out the scene in Times Square, but we could see the fireworks. We kissed at midnight and held each other tight- and I just had a feeling- without any words- this would be the year we were going to get engaged.
As I walked down the aisle to the traditional wedding march, the friend who I’d asked to play played a few horrendous notes. A cousin of my dads interrupted our first moment as husband and wife in a side room of the church- “Oh there you two are!” Your friend who was mc’ing the reception made a crude joke during the cake cutting which I only caught on video. These are the things we laughed about afterwards and for years.
It so happened that our first apartment wouldn’t be ready until two weeks after we got back from our honeymoon, but fortuitously a student in my grad school class asked if I would dog sit and live in her home for those exact two weeks. Well, maybe it was the second day when you had let the two giant black poodles out in the backyard that one of them- Dolly- who you called Jolly- didn’t return. I heard you calling and calling from the bedroom…so I came down to the kitchen. “Did you use the emergency whistle thing?” There was some clicking device that the woman had told us would work if nothing else did. It was dark out. You clicked away and Dolly didn’t return. Finally…in she came…and then I experienced the smell of a skunk up close- it’s quite different from the wafting scent you smell when you drive by. Dolly had been sprayed. We tried to get her in the bath tub but the other dog went crazy. We googled solutions to the smell. Luckily we had another week and a half until the family returned for the smell to dissipate from the kitchen. “Remember Dolly?” I’d say in the past six years…”You mean Jolly?” you’d say.
In our first apartment, we had no furniture for a while. I had been so busy planning the wedding all year, I’d given very little thought to the matter of furnishing our house until we were actually there. So slowly we got our furniture, but in the meantime, we sat on the living room floor and ate dinner- later we advanced to sitting on two chairs with a cardboard box as our makeshift table. It didn’t matter- we were newly weds.
Remember when we visited Korea- I got sick but your mom made me sing at your parents church? Remember at the large family gathering how you were carrying over a large Asian table of plates and food to the kitchen and dropped it all? It was loud and messy…it was funny. We laughed every time we brought it up.
Remember how Audrey’s first or second night home you opened up her diaper and her poop exploded all over our room- I mean it flew everywhere- “Whoooaahhh!” you said.
I am a planner and a control freak. I wanted to create perfect moments and outings and traditions. But now I see with new clarity…it is not the plans we made, not the “perfect,” but the imperfect, flawed, mishaps and adventures of daily living – that I remember most often.
I miss those.