Dance, Then: The Paper Anniversary

The bride, only 20, was sipping champagne from her new husband’s glass. The reception was held in an old mill, dancing upstairs, hors d’oeuvres downstairs, the very epitome of old world, small town charm.

The DJ was playing “Love Shack.”

It was funny, when they called, these friends of yours, to say they were getting married on the 7th of August and could you come, you laughed and laughed. They’d swing-danced at your wedding, putting the older couples to shame with their Lindy Hop and foxtrot, but apparently they’d forgotten the date.

Oh my God, I’m sorry, they said, but honestly, where better to spend your first anniversary than at a party with some of your dearest friends, celebrating their wedding as well as your own? She looked like a Renaissance angel, all red curls and soft face and ivory silk, and the look on his face when she appeared in the church doorway made you cry. Where better to spend your first anniversary than at a little church in the middle of a cornfield, all green and misty with late summer rain, seeing two people who adored one another like people dream of being adored, put words to their intentions?

It hadn’t been an easy year. You’d moved to a new state and weren’t happy about it; he was still learning how to live with someone. There were arguments, fights almost, even on the way to the wedding. But that night in the old mill you got him to dance, and fell into the movements you’d practiced in your living room, bumping into the couch and trying to watch the instructors on the tape tell you where to step and when. That first anniversary, that dance one year to the day when he spun you around and you laughed and laughed as the photographer snapped you, was a reminder, like the heart beating next to your own: Still here. Still here. Still here.

You’ll always be grateful to your friends for that. No quiet candlelight dinner at a restaurant you couldn’t afford, no picnic (with strawberries) by yourselves, would have been half as comforting and celebratory as looking over and seeing next to you two people in their own long-practiced dance, her veil drifting over his shoulder.

Happy anniversary to all those married in Massachusetts one year ago today. May your lives together be one long loving waltz, one fast and furious twist, one great and joyous jitterbug on whatever dance floor you choose.

A.