Memories of the Queen


Maybe marriage is really special. Certainly it’s still held in high esteem.

Not a week since our sixteenth anniversary, I’m still receiving the loveliest notes, congratulations. But please, I know people who’ve been married longer than many of my current friends’ have been alive.

These people scoff at sixteen years. They see it and double down on us. Some sent us congratulations.

I think I see why those old friends scoff at any marriage celebration under twenty-five years but I’ll admit it from my short experience, I don’t know what all the hubbub is about? Maybe they know this as well.

It seems from a distance that their marriages are on autopilot. Perhaps that is how you achieve 35 years together? I feel we’ve hit stride, maybe because I married later in life; maybe it’s really more about aging.

I don’t know if we’re quite on autopilot but we move across a floor well. In tandem. A team and as arduous as it is, it feels easier than when we were younger.

Surely every day holds new challenges, constant anxiety, doubt.

Then you have children, which compounds and complicates your union. But as I stand in the walk-in closet of this century old, depreciated seaside home, marriage feels right; more than simply putting another 20 years on my life. Together, we always work it out, get by somehow; that is how the others have possibly made it.

I look down at my bureau. The Queen’s looking back at me stoically. You know, that portrait of the Queen on Canadian Notes. Sturdy unlike my house. Regally confident, unlike how I often feel. Clearly seeing what’s ahead for us all, while I can barely see pass the end of each month.

She reminds me of how far I have come and how I should chin up and feel proud. In fact, she reminds me of a night decades ago, maybe it was Windsor, Ontario; perhaps it was Montreal. My girlfriend at the time and I were on a nice holiday.

She had accepted my request to marry one night yet we hadn’t set a date and by the next year, she ran off with an art student from Philadelphia. She returned. We were trying it again.

Anyway, she was at an ATM in the vestibule of some bank in one of those fine cities when I heard a terrified scream from inside. I dashed in from the sidewalk to find her standing, hands to mouth, as if punched in the stomach, yet more horrified.

“What is it?” “What’s wrong?” I implored bent at my waist trying to look between her hands into her twisted face. She cried, “the machine stole my money. My money’s gone”. I reached to my right, pulling out 300 dollars in fifteen denominations of twenties, Queen staring gracefully a glance.

“You’re in Canada!” I said. “It’s real money! What did you think you were going to get?”

I forgot all about that night; lucky I didn’t marry her.

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