Wednesday, January 2, 2008

22 years ago today...



...a 20-something, pushing-30 couple stood in front of a magistrate judge in San Francisco's City Hall. They were there to pledge their loyalty to one another "until death us do part."

They had opened a gallery less than three months ago. The start-up costs had sucked their savings dry and so they had no money for wedding bands. In one month, they would discover they were pregnant with no maternity benefits. He would take a job selling Volkswagens. She would work the gallery with the most debilitating morning sickness in the history of the world. One day soon, overcome by nausea and fatigue, she would retreat to the gallery's back room to lie on the sofa. Hearing footsteps in the gallery, she would rush back in, only to discover the phone had been stolen. She would discover she had high blood pressure, that her pregnancy was considered "complicated" and so she would have to close the gallery three times a week, squeeze her colossal girth behind the wheel of their Ford Courier, and negotiate the hills between Convergence Gallery and UC Med Center. The doctor would inevitably be late for their appointments. When he would appear, his would be the same stale joke: "No wonder you have high blood pressure--you closed your store to come see me, you're thinking about the sale you're missing out on, and here I am, always running late." San would feel like she was trapped in a never-ending cycle of financial stress, nausea, malaise, and abject terror.

That day 22 years ago, had San seen what lay in her immediate future, there's a very good chance she would have run to the nearest taxi, grabbed a ride to the airport, and flown to any destination that might be readily available. Some place safe like Poughkeepsie. Or Antarctica. Or Saturn.

San, however, was not clairvoyant. Business was picking up a bit. She, with the untested optimism of the very young, assumed the real difficulties were a thing of the past. So she married Bennie. Anyone with any "common sense" would have told this young couple they were behaving in a perfectly irrational manner, that they were headed towards disaster. But no one with common sense was around that day, so they headed, blindfolded, right into the disaster of their life together.


Things turned out remarkably well. Flannery was born 10 months later. The labor went so swiftly and uneventfully, San didn't even make it to the delivery room. The doctor who'd declared her pregnancy "complicated" now declared San a woman who was "born to breed." Apparently, this was the case. Oakley arrived 26 months later. He actually arrived before the doctor arrived. Bennie had a vasectomy. Then he had another one, since the first one didn't take. Seems that San wasn't the only one in this couple who was "born to breed."

Bennie and San had not planned on being parents, and they were simply amazed to discover they LOVED being parents. Flannery and Oakley were these huge gifts from out of the blue--unasked for, unanticipated, and absolutely awe-inspiring.

The arrival of my children taught me the biggest lesson that my life has ever offered up: You don't always know what you want. Life, or The Universe, or God--whatever term you use for whatever's beyond your power--often has much bigger things in mind for your life. Things that are much more profoundly satisfying than any goals you might have imagined in your very limited perspective. 22 years ago, I never would have been able to conjure such incredible young adults as the two I just shared Christmas with.



I would never have fathomed that, 22 years later, I would be living in the stunning high desert landscape of New Mexico in a cozy little home looking out on the mountains, that I would actually be making paintings myself and sending them to wonderful homes around the country.

Life is an unfolding surprise, a feast.


And I am filled with gratitude that I am sharing it with the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary, love!

81 comments:

CHEWY said...

Oh No! Not Poughkeepsie! (don't tell. i was born there)

Happy Anniversary!
You two are an amazing couple. Keep smiling for years and years to come.

San said...

Wow, Chewy--you were born in Poughkeepsie. Don't know a thing about it, I just thought the sound of it worked here.

Thank you for your well-wishing. You keep smiling too...

kate said...

It's amazing how 22 years doesn't seem to have taken much of a toll on either of you. You both look great! What a lovely pair of children you have ... I hope 2008 continues to bring good things your way.

Here's to much enjoyable blogging throughout the year too!

San said...

Kate, I'll have to make a copy of your comment and re-read it on those days I'm feeling old and discouraged. Thank you!

Yes, blogging is a lot of fun, isn't it?

jsd said...

Thank you for sharing - I think it's awesome how life has a way of turning out much more amazingly then we imagine for ourselves.

HMBT said...

Here's to you two rebels! May you live and love from this life to the next!
Huzzah!!!!

Lee said...

Wow, San! Your story is amazing, heart warming, and made me want to cry too. You are an inspiration! You are beautiful spirit come to life. That hasn't changed with the stress or the years. Bennie's good looks have taken him from a British Rock Star appearance to having the look of a well to do TV lawyer. (G) Loved the graduation picture too. Those are two great kids!

Thank you for sharing this story and the family photos. Happy Anniversary!

Hugs!!!

San said...

JS, I know that you and your family are on the verge of a big move. May it "turn out more amazingly" than you imagine!

San said...

Heather, I love the way you call us "rebels."

Thanks for the lifetime wishes. Back at ya!

San said...

Lee, I am touched by your glowing words. Thank you!

Now, if someone had told Bennie 22 years ago, that his looks would evolve from "British rock star" to "television lawyer," he would still be running, never looking back. He was actually the front man in a rock band in those days. :-)

HUGS to you, Lee. And Happy New Year.

self taught artist said...

you are lucky people
happy anniversary!

lime said...

what a marvelous history, what lovely pictures to punctuate it. the last one is just so beautiful as you can see the love.

a very happy anniversary. here is to many more happy years together.

San said...

Paula, I know it's not the most celebratory time for you, and so your good wishes really mean a lot to me.

Thank you.

San said...

Lime, I really appreciate your comment on the last picture ;)

Thanks much for your marvelous wishes.

WILSONART said...

Beautiful then, beautiful now!
Congratulations on a wonderful life together!

San said...

Thanks for the visit, Wilson. And for the good wishes too.

KJ said...

Such a BEAUTIFUL story! Happy ending... no, happy future! Love hearing the story behind the story... congratulations!

Celebration of Life said...

San,
What a beautiful story of yours and Bennie's life path! I have tears in my eyes from reading it. Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story. You have beautiful offspring! Happy Anniversary!
Jo

Ms. Creek said...

isn't it amazing how life unfolds around us...it's so encouraging to read a true story like this...and i love the pic of bennie when the kids were young! thanks for sharing...it gives us all hope!

The Moody Minstrel said...

It's amazing how many success stories are the result of simple perseverance. It makes you wonder how many failures might have worked out differently if people had only had the fortitude to stick it out.

How sad that perseverance and fortitude...not to mention simple patience...seem to be on the verge of extinction in this day and age.

Yours is an inspiring story. The pictures you attached...as well as the smiles...really bring it all home.

Best of wishes for 2008!

murat11 said...

What a happy and blessed way to begin each new year. Happy Anniversary to you both, and what a lovely tribute. Peace.

San said...

Karen, thanks for the visit!

I especially appreciate your "happy future" wishes.

Happy New Year to you. May 2008 be a great one for you and your marvelous art.

San said...

Jo, thank you!

You wrote the book on personal trials and your comment is therefore all the more meaningful to me. I am touched. Hug.

San said...

Ms. Creek, thank you for stopping by!

That is one of my favorite pictures of Bennie. In that case one picture is worth a thousand nights of lost sleep.

Happy New Year, hon.

San said...

Moody, I completely agree with what you have to say about perseverance and simple patience. Waiting is something of a lost art.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the pictures.

May 2008 be VERY good to you, man.

San said...

Peace to you, Paschal.

And to Tina and Walden.

Thanks, as ever, for your kind words. They mean much.

WBTT said...

I too am filled with gratitude. Everyday I appreciate waking up next to you. You will always be the beautiful, intelligennt, creative, and dare I say "sexy" woman I married twenty two years ago. How the stars align and allow two people to come together in love and sustain it over time is a magical thing. Beyond my comprehension, especially considering the challenges and the odds. Still, this fantastic journey, with it's highs, lows, blessings, celebrations, and continuous surprises, is US. And I am indeed a blessed man to be in this partnership. Thank you for you sweetheart. I love you so much!

Bennie XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOOOOOOO

San said...

WBTT, you've got me crying now!

I am blessed to be in it all with you. And you know what "it all" is.

And yes, by all means do say "sexy." Back at ya, King: xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

I LOVE YOU!

JafaBrit's Art said...

wow, what a brilliant post, and I think it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Maybe because some of it resonated so well. I like what you said about not really knowing what we want at times.

thanks for dropping by my blog.

My friend jan just opened a gallery in albuquerque, if you ever go there, it is called Dreamscapes on Fifth on 1523 5th St. NW :)

San said...

Jafrabit, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for letting me know.

Thanks too, for the tip on the new Albuquerque gallery. Both my kids live there, and it's fun to schedule a day with them--grab lunch at the Chocolate Cafe--yes, it's as good as it sounds--then hit a gallery or two.

barman said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I thought anyone who is a friend of Lime is AOK in my book. Talk about an understatement.

Happy Anniversary to the two of you San. This post was wonderful. Glad you managed a way to get past the difficulties of 22 years ago and now are able to enjoy your blessings.

San said...

I appreciate the return visit, Barman.

Thank you for your generous and kind words. Happy New Year to you!

david mcmahon said...

God bless you, Flannery and Oakley. God bless you, San and Bernie. What an amazing story or love, loyalty and self-belief.

Happy anniversary to a great couple.

Sory I've been out of touch for three weeks, but I was travelling and then I got very ill on my last day, just before flying home to Melbourne.

I didn't have your email address - and I just wasn't well enough to jump on the internet and wish everyone for Christmas and the New Year.

Back on my feet now. A bit shaky, but her, I'm up and about again ....

david mcmahon said...

Yikes - I should have checked the accuracy of my typing and then I would have realised I wrote ``Bernie'' instead of ``Bennie''. My sincere apologies.

Divad (er, sorry, David)

San said...

Great to see you again, David. Lee told me you'd been sick. Since I couldn't make it to your post-Christmas bash, I was planning an old-fashioned Irish wake for you, but it looks like you lived after all. That's good.

As to the typo, no problemo. Bennie has been called Bernie so often, he answers to that too.

Happy New Year to you and your family, David.

Ms. Creek said...

just thought i would let you know, i am "celebration of life" 's younger sister :o)

Carol said...

Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on 22 years!

Kim said...

Somehow, I stumbled across your blog tonight and found such a nice story here. Happy Anniversary and many more to come!

oldmanlincoln said...

Oh my. Almost brought tears to my eyes. What a story. You are a wonderful couple with two great kids. In time, things always get better, but not always.

I am wishing you another 22.

My wife, Patty, and I, have been married 52 years and in July of this year it will be 53. We began $300.00 in debt to my mother who loaned us that much to get married on. LOL

Time changes everything.

San said...

Ms. Creek, I recently learned that when Jo said she was going to spend Christmas with her younger sister "Ms. Creek."

You have quite the blogging family--must be genetic!!

:O

San said...

Thanks, Carol! Great to see you here--come again.

San said...

Kim, I'm so glad you stumbled in. Stumble, run, or crawl in anytime. I love company.

San said...

Abraham, your story is great. Why didn't we think of borrowing money for wedding rings?

Thank you for the well-wishing on our behalf.

Almost 53 years of wedded bless and the works--that's remarkable. Hugs to you and lovely Patty.

San said...

Abraham, I wrote "wedded bless" instead of "wedded bliss." Somehow I like that even better. A divinely inspired typo.

Celebration of Life said...

San,
Sigh.... Bennie wrote you a beautiful note! That is the kind of love I am looking for; pure and honest.
Jo

San said...

Jo, you've more than paid your dues. You deserve that pure and honest love. Here's hoping it comes your way in 2008...

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Poughkeepsie! Hehehee! That nayme maykes me larf! Hehehe!

congratulayshuns an Happy new year!

:@}

San said...

It's always an honor to receive a visit from B.T. Bear, Esq.

Thanks for the congratulayshuns...and keep larfing in 2008...

:-)

david mcmahon said...

Hi San,

Loved the suggestion of a wake! Any party's a good party and organising it would have been "dead" easy!!!

I want you to know that when I took a particular shot during my India trip, I immediately thought of you.

I've just posted it on my blog and it's called `Vegetable Artwork' - I'm sure it will bring a smile to your face.

Say G'day to Bennie for me.

David

San said...

David, I took a look. I'm still wondering whether it was the wonky wheels or the stairs to nowhere that made you think of me.

david mcmahon said...

You always make me smile, San!!

It was definitely the artistic impulse that made me think of you!!

Although I guess we all have taken stairs to nowhere and been slowed down by wonky wheels at some stages in our lives!!!!

Keep smiling

David

Ms. Creek said...

that was an incredibly sweet note from your bennie!

genetic yes, sisters, nieces, nephews, such a family!

love your story, just read it again
:o)

Sparkling Red said...

Just lovely. Happy Anniversary!

Patty said...

Happy Anniversary. A beautiful story of love, life and happiness. Here's to many more anniversaries.

Kim said...

What a beautiful story you share! Thank you for the inspiration and sharing the love...may it continue for all of the world. You all make an incredibly beautiful family.

Lis Garrett said...

What a lovely post, and truly wonderful photographs!

Karina said...

Happy Anniversary, San! What fun photographs. You look so beautiful. Rock on.

San said...

David, when it comes to the artistic impulse, you wrote the book(s).

:-)

San said...

Ms. Creek, I told Bennie that the women are groovin' on his note. That pleases him much.

San said...

Hey, Sparkle. Thanks!

San said...

Patty,

Thank you for visiting and for the very kind words.

I'll check your blog out.

San said...

Lis,

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. What's going on at your place is great too.

San said...

Karina, you know how to make me feel good.

Thank you. As ever, you rock, woman!

San said...

Kim, I just realized I'd somehow missed your comment. THANK YOU.

I'll check out your blog.

Meanie the baby dragon said...

San: Dwagun poop bee damd? hehehe

San said...

Meanie, I'm gwad u find me quoteable. I'm fwattered.

U R 1 cwazy dwagon.

Easybreathingfella said...

Hi San

Many, many congratulations and a happy New Year.

What a fantastic story, and what a great family you have.

22 years "eh" your only just practicing it's my 42nd in May.

Did you ever manage the Sticky Toffee pudding?

Love

Keith x

San said...

Thanks, Keith. Compared to you and your spouse, we're just getting warmed up!

The sticky toffee pudding is something we look forward to. We made so many cookies over the holidays--World Peace chocolate cookies, gingerbread animals, apricot bars, and chocolate almond drops-- and we got so much chocolate as presents--we've been eating our way through that. A tough job to be sure, one which should fully prepare us for the sticky pudding consumption.

Happy New Year and love to you. x

Helena said...

Bob's mum here!
Just popped by to say "hi!"

San said...

Helena, great to meet you! I'll see you over at your place.

indicaspecies said...

Hi San,

It's good to catch up on your blog.
An inspiring and impressive tale of your life is recounted here! Wishes for a happy anniversary and many more years of happiness.

Have a great 2008. :)

With love
celine

indicaspecies said...

I must add, you have beautiful pictures here. I particulary love the B&W of a gorgeous woman!

San said...

Celine, you've returned from your travels! Welcome back and thanks for your kind words.

david mcmahon said...

Thank you, San, for that wonderful comment. Looking forward to an update on this always-so-readable blog .....

San said...

I'm looking forward to an update too, David. Right now I'm in the midst of less fun things having to do with tax time. Tedium before pleasure.

Daphne said...

Congratulations San. I enjoyed this post.

What an attractive and lovely family the four of you make.

San said...

Thank you, Daphne. And may 2008 be very good to you and your beautiful family.

Hahn at Home said...

San, you are a very lucky woman. Thanks for stopping by my blog and allowing me to discover you.

San said...

Hahn, thank you for returning the visit and for your well-wishing.

I look forward to more visits.

Jo Beaufoix said...

What a beautiful post. And you are such a handsome couple.

San said...

Jo, you're making me glow from ear to ear. Thanks!