My husband and I aren’t big on giving gifts. We already have a lot of stuff and we’re both really bad about buying things when we want them so not only is there nothing that either one of us really needs, there’s not even usually something that we want that the other could buy.
For a while we tried to make gift buying more interesting by creating gift-giving themes like, “Spend $10 at a Walgreen’s” or “Spend $10 on something that could be featured on Antique Roadshow someday.”
The themes were fun but in the end, we both agreed that we would much rather save up the gift money to put toward things like vacations or crazy delicious ten-course chef’s choice nights at Uchiko restaurant.
After ten years of wonderful wedding anniversaries that didn’t involve so much as an exchange of cards, I assumed the night of July 6, 2012 wouldn’t be any different. Boy was I wrong.
When we returned home from our wonderful, over the top anniversary dinner at the Driskill, my husband asked me to go inside to pay the babysitter because he had to grab something out of the garage.
When I came back outside, my husband was standing next to a table covered with the antique quilt that my dad gave us as a wedding gift topped with the glasses that we used to do the toasts at our wedding reception. I was so touched by the time he took to create a special private table for us to enjoy our annual anniversary toast.
After a minute or two of sitting and chatting and enjoying our champagne he asked, “do you know where this table came from?”
I dunno, the garage? The kids’ art table? Craigslist?
“It’s the table. The one from Chez Shea. The one we were sitting at when I proposed”
It may help if you’ve seen the movie “Inside Out” to understand what started going through my head at that moment. “Joy” was definitely taking the lead but I also have a very prominent character named, “What the Whaaaa?” who lives in my brain that always has lots of questions, like:
“How did you get a table out of Chez Shea without them noticing?”
“Is our garage so messy that I didn’t notice a table in there since we moved from Seattle 5 years ago?”
“How did it get here?”
“Am I going to cry when you start explaining this?”
He then shared the story with me about how a few months earlier he had read an article online about how Chez Shea, our favorite restaurant, that overlooked the Pike Street Market in Seattle, was going to be closing. He proposed to me there on August 11, 2001 (in an elaborate, romantic proposal which deserves its own post) and had always wanted to be able to go back and even to bring our daughter there for her first fancy daddy/daughter night.
After some research, he discovered that a new coffee shop, called Storyville would be taking its place. Some of the details of the for the rest of the story are a little hazy due to the amount of concentration that was involved to keep from going full ugly-cry as he recounted the tale of our table.
He contacted the new owners and asked them if they still had the furniture from Chez Shea and if there was any way that they would be willing to part with the table and chairs which were located in the far left corner, by the window overlooking the market.
Leave it to a coffee shop called Storyville to be a sucker for a good love story. They did have our set and would be happy to give it to us if he could just arrange for the shipping.
Which leads to the even trickier part of the story: Shipping an industrial strength, iron base, 100 pound table from Seattle to Austin for less than the cost of a prix fixe meal at Chez Shea.
Somehow, through the magic of Craigslist and I don’t know how many people, our table and chairs started on over a month-long, cross country journey, one leg at a time. One person would take them from Seattle to Portland, and then they would transfer them to someone else who had room to take them from Portland to Salt Lake. The set would then go unaccounted for for weeks at a time until they made the next transfer to someone who could take them as far as Denver. And so on and so on until eventually they arrived in Austin where they were then hidden in our friends’ garage until the night of our anniversary.
I continue to be blown away by this amazing gift, both by the thought behind it and by the amount of effort required to it to arrange it.
We tried to figure out the best way to honor this special part of our history like turning the table top into some fun work of art to hang on the wall or using it as a sitting area in our bedroom.
Instead, here it sits in the garage, under the workbench, behind the paint cans, with a lawnmower hovering next to its base.
Some would say that’s no way to treat such a cherished and special part of our history. But to me, it’s a nice metaphor our marriage and our lives together: The spectacularly ‘once in a lifetime special’ and the ‘every day special’ blending together seamlessly. I’m incredibly grateful for my husband every time I look at that table, just as I’m incredibly grateful every time he pulls out that lawnmower next to it and mows the lawn on a 100 degree day.
Whether it’s the table where we officially started our lives together or the tools we’ve used to build and create the home we share together, they’ve all played an important part in our lives.
So tonight, as we drag (and I mean drag, that table’s heavy) our table out from the garage to the patio for our annual anniversary toast, I will remember my husband’s wedding proposal at this very table, our wedding and the highlights of our 13 married years together. And next week, when I pull out the lawnmower trying carefully not to smash into our table, I will do the same.
Because a marriage isn’t just about a proposal, a wedding or the big celebrations in life, it’s about doing your best to celebrate your lives together in little ways, every day.
When my husband’s not busy doing thoughtful things for me, he’s busy doing them for his kids (and writing books.) Learn all about how he uses Super Heroes to help keep in touch with the kids when he travels.
And read about his awesome Young Adult (and Old Adult) thriller, Crash Alive. I reviewed it the way that only a wife can. 😉
I am seriously the luckiest woman in the world, and it all started the day I met this guy.
Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.
Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the upcoming books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood – Tales of Wonder Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.