I met G for the first time on October 4, 2003. Our first date — arranged via Match.com as an early-afternoon coffee at a downtown cafe — ended 9½ hours later, when waitstaff at the nearby Thai restaurant we had relocated to, The Happy Smile, finally shooed us out the door.
Although he and I did not get married until the following December, we decided to use Oct 4, 2003 as the date engraved inside our wedding rings. This was our “true anniversary,” G and I agreed.
I sold that ring yesterday.
[Quick tip for any would-be Not-Abused Spouses: if someone ever says to you, “I feel as though we’ve been married since the first day we met,” run away. Run as far and as fast as you can.
If any part of you thinks of saying, “Aww, I feel the exact same way!” — run instead straight to the nearest therapist’s office, plonk yourself down on their couch, and refuse to leave until they’ve helped you get the inside of your head thoroughly rebuilt.]
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Since October 4 was also the day before my birthday, G and I used to do one big, joint celebration each year.
Which is a polite way of saying: I made extravagant events out of our anniversary — flying us to Paris (or London or Vienna), springing for dinner at local 4-star restaurants the times we stayed in the country — and he sometimes wished me “happy birthday” on the correct day. In seven years, he never got me so much as a card.
The birthday omission might have been a power play, or he perhaps never did bother to learn which day it was. I know he would check the inscribed date on his wedding band and add one, anytime he needed to remember my DOB for completing some form or other.
His birthday I never forgot — and probably never will. It’s the same day as Hitler’s.
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The first week of this month has become quite dense with associations for me.
There’s October 4 and 5, of course.
And October 1st. Two years ago — just after 7pm on Oct 1, 2013, to be precise — I jolted back to myself for the first time since mid-August. In the process of explaining to therapists about my “lost time,” or the random bouts of paralyzing anxiety and memory gaps I had endured throughout my adult life, usually lasting for periods of one to two months, I learned a new name for this experience: dissociation.
In going back through memory to uncover the first time I dissociated, I acquired another applicable word: trauma.
It astounds me today, recognizing that it has only been two short years — that it has already been two long years — since I began unravelling the snarled knots at the core of my mind. And just over one year since I began writing it out in earnest.
Then there’s October 7, which is. . . another story. For another day.
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Despite how eagerly I agreed with G during our marriage that most widely-celebrated occasions were rubbish, I really do love celebrating special days. Birthdays, anniversaries, memorable events. Even holidays, though I prefer to keep my own invented traditions. This is perhaps why my litany of early October dates stays so fresh in my mind.
That, and the fact that I have been systematically rewriting their significance. I want to own these dates again, all to myself. All with my own meanings.
I started with that October 1. A month later, almost to the day, I got a new ear piercing. As I said at the time, I felt “deep organic need to mark my body as my home” — and a frantic prayerful wish, as well. May my mind never again leave my body so alone and bereft. (A prayer now answered. I no longer lose time.)
Last year I began a new birthday tradition for October 5, which I am continuing with this year.
And now October 4 feels ripe for rewriting, as well. Which is why I sold my wedding ring yesterday — and tucked the cash into an envelope marked “my next tattoo.”
I will take my time planning what ink to get, though I have already begun collecting inspiration. Something that feels bright and exuberant, I think — with celebration dancing in every line.
And if you have any ideas? I’d love it if you’d share.