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goonies never say die

Friday, we celebrated our 16th anniversary.

We actually celebrated all weekend. Friday was dinner in Astoria at a favorite restaurant on the water, then to our hotel with a lovely view of Youngs Bay. Saturday, a leisurely start of late morning coffee and pastries at a hole-in-the-wall cafe, a bit of shopping, a visit to Fort Clatsop. Then a pretty drive over to Fort Stevens, where we picnicked on the beach and read and sketched for a few hours. The day was dry and temperate despite a fog that hung heavy and low, which made the whole day feel deliciously still, as if everything had just sort of...paused for a little while. Sunday morning, brunch and a stroll through my favorite art gallery before leaving for home.

At the last minute on our way out of town, and despite a soaking drizzle, we acted on impulse and took a quick detour to drive by The Goonies house.

The Goonies, you see, are part of the reason I fell in love with Sal. On our second date, when I sheepishly confessed a secret wish to live in Astoria someday because I loved The Goonies and maybe kind of hoped I'd discover my own well-creased map that led to adventure and treasure and pirate ships, Sal didn't laugh. He squeezed my hand and confessed he maybe kind of had the same secret wish.

A month before our big move to Portland, we came out for the first time to register Sal for culinary school, look for a job, and find an apartment. We had five days to accomplish everything, and a budget so tight that two loaves of bread, a package of deli turkey, a handful of apples, and small jars of peanut butter and jelly had to stretch for a week's meals. Sal's admissions coordinator tipped us off to a small local motel that was clean and quiet and affordable. We walked a lot.

Sure that we were in over our heads, we were country mice in the big city, just trying to keep from being run over. But being terrified can be good for you, and it was incredibly good for us, that terrifying and terrifically exciting adventure, that leap from the safe to the absolutely unknown. Our lives were never the same, in all the best possible ways.

The last day of that exploratory trip before we had to drive home was our fourth anniversary. Sal was officially registered for culinary school, the beginning realization of a lifelong dream. No job or place to live yet, but I had completed the registration process with a temp agency, and we were hoping to hear we'd gotten the apartment we wanted. We'd survived the city all on our own, and we were making it happen, this intrepid new future of ours. We'd managed to set aside a little bit of money to splurge on something more than PB&J for our anniversary and we had lots of reasons to celebrate. So that afternoon, we headed west on Sunset Highway for a late afternoon lunch in Astoria.

We had only just gotten the hang of two of the main freeways and the streets immediately around our hotel. Driving west, to parts even more unknown, felt like we were driving to the edge of the world. As if we might go flying right off into the starry black if we drove too fast. On our map, I wrote, "Here there be dragons."

But the edge of the world, we discovered, wasn't an abyss stretching boundless past a sharp cliff of earth. It was an ancient sea breaking on verdant mountains, breathtaking and serene. No pirate ships, but no dragons, either.

We were still trying to absorb this monumental change we were undertaking. For a week, we had ridden a fine edge between elation and outright terror, both of us wondering at times if this dream was too big for us, too much for us to hold. But on that anniversary, as we stood along a dock railing watching ships bigger than buildings slide through the water like glaciers, deep blue sky overhead and deeper blue water below, our hands clasped tightly, if only to anchor ourselves to the ground, the realization hit more viscerally than ever before: together, we could face anything. Even flying off the edge of the world.

We've been looking back a lot recently. Marveling at how far we've come, how much more we became because of the leaps we took, the chances and the risks gambled to turn our dreams into this life, this wonderful life. So there was something neatly, perfectly circular about celebrating our anniversary in Astoria this year, in our special together place, our edge-of-the-world place, our we-can-accomplish-anything place.

The place that we discovered adventure and treasure with a well-creased map.

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Reader Comments (2)

I love your story and am so happy for you both! I was thinking of you when I realized it was your anniversary last weekend. So glad it was another one filled with special memories.

Jul 22, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Awww, you were thinking of us? So sweet! Thank you. (And thank you for being there for the event that those anniversaries memorialize!)

Jul 22, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Registered CommenterBitty

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