Thirty years ago today, my wife and I were penniless grad students. Trying to be logical about when to marry—I’d been accepted at Edinburgh University shortly after we’d decided on a May wedding and the latest I could matriculate was April—we decided the holidays would be the best time. Not Christmas, of course. Or New Year’s Day. As students we held to the illusion that others observed the natural caesura between the two. We considered it from the feast of Stephen to New Year’s Eve, days when everyone is recovering from the intensity of Christmas or staying up late to welcome in 1989. We settled on December 30. The church was already decorated for Christmas, saving that expense. Having moved up the date by some five months we did ask them to remove the banner that read “For unto us a child is born.” Our reasons were purely academic.
I generally avoid writing too much about my personal life on this blog, but a thirty-year wedding anniversary is somewhat extraordinary. Being a working-class kid I told my wife when I proposed that I couldn’t promise much but I could assure her our life together would be interesting. That slippery qualifier has proven correct time and again. Our first three years as a couple were spent in Edinburgh, and quite unexpectedly, the next fourteen at Nashotah House. The first two of those years involved being apart from Sunday through Wednesday as I commuted from Champaign-Urbana to Delafield to teach my courses. And, of course, to attend chapel. Our daughter was born while we lived at the seminary and a Fundamentalist takeover led to the loss of my first (and to date only) full-time academic job.
The academic job market had been tough when I started and it had tanked in the meantime. We had to uproot and move to New Jersey to find any work at all. Publishing proved remarkably unstable and yet we stuck together. This year we bought a house and moved to Pennsylvania. It took three decades, but we’ve finally achieved what some would term normalcy. The fact is, though, that long-term marriages are to be celebrated. Many of the vicissitudes we’ve faced could easily have capsized our little boat. Looking back over the years I can see that we never did prosper in any kind of financial or career situation. Life has indeed been interesting. I don’t blog much about my personal life, but today I can’t help but think of how incredibly fortunate I am to have found a soul-mate willing to stick with a guy who still thinks like a penniless grad student. Thirty years of schooling and it’s not nearly enough.