Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary. That’s right. Our anniversary is 9/11. Thanks, terrorists, for fucking-up our special day. Oh…AND my city. When we got married, I thought the confluence of numbers–9/11/99–was a fortuitous thing.

We didn’t get married on THE 9/11. That’s how we spent our second anniversary. We were both working in Midtown Manhattan and living on the Lower East Side. All hell broke loose and we had to walk home. My Bride was seven months pregnant. She was wearing heels that weren’t suitable for a 45-block, four-avenue walk so we stopped into the Duane Reade and bought a pair of plastic flats. It took all day to get home because we had to stop for frequent rests. By the time we got home her feet looked like pieces of raw meat. I remember it being really pretty outside. Azure sky and cool temps. 100% clarity. The focus was sharp.

The transit system was shut down and the avenues were choked with pedestrians. It’s the first (and only) time I’ve seen New Yorkers inconvenienced and not complain about it. A military demarcation line was established south of Houston St. There was a gauntlet of armor personnel carriers and very large guns. In order to get to our apartment we had to show ID. That went on for three weeks. Once inside our apartment, we had to shut the windows because the air stunk like a combination of an electrical fire and burnt hair. The Trade Center was (had been) just a mile away.

We moved out of the city four months later. Our move had nothing to do with the attack. At that time, Avenue B was no place to raise a little girl. The wheels for the move had already been set in motion. We had bid on a house and were disembarking for the suburbs. I felt awful about leaving. It felt like we were abandoning the city in her time of need.

We didn’t celebrate our anniversary for the next four years. It didn’t feel right. But then we got back on our feet and decided to reclaim what was rightfully ours–just like my shining citadel on the hill did.

15 years is pretty good run. A lot of people don’t make it to 15 months. In all that time, I’ve never once thought of bailing out. Not once! I’m serious! Isn’t that miraculous?

The women I’ve known I wouldn’t let tie my shoe
They wouldn’t give you the time of day
But [My Bride] knocked me off my feet
God I was glad I found her

Rod Stewart
Every Picture Tells a Story

wed 3

Look how black my hair used to be. So sad.

67 thoughts on “XV

  1. Congratulations!
    It felt like we were abandoning the city in her time of need.
    It’s funny you should write that because I took on a contract in the City of London just after 9/11, I didn’t have to, but people were afraid that there was going to be an attack on London – this made me feel strangely defiant. I got caught on the Underground due to a bomb scare and had to evacuated along the tracks. Scared witless, but still defiant!

    • I remember that feeling too Scarlet. When there *was* a bomb attack in London, a thing started going round on social media with pictures of people holding up signs reading “I am not afraid”.

      A friend of mine was working in central London at teh time in some swanky mobile phone HQ or something, and had a really cool boss. When news of the bomb came through, he said. “We’re under attack. I think we should seek safety in the wine bar”. And they did!

      Happy Anniversaty Mark — Jeez, 15 years. I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like!

  2. Happy anniversary!
    My girl had a similar walk to get out of the city that day to Queens. We’d been together just shy of a year then, and I couldn’t wait for her to get home so I could hold her and see she was ok.

      • No, I know. Relationships are a LOT of work. But good for both of you for making it work. I’m very impressed given my history of failures there…

      • You have extenuating circumstances. I didn’t marry a crazy person. It’ll click one day. You’ll see. I got married fairly late in life, which was to my advantage. If I had gotten married in my 20’s it would have crashed and burned

  3. Congratulations on the fifteen years. Sorry your day has to conjure sad memories. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for you New Yorkers. Those of us not even near the area have the images seared into our brains forever. So those of you who were there…well, I can’t even imagine the memories you hold.

    • Thanks for your congrats! My wife makes it easy. She keeps me on a loose leash.

      The interesting thing about 9/11 is that they teach it in my daughters schools. It feels odd to have vivid memories of a piece of history.

  4. Well don’t you look pretty….and your Mrs, she’s a knockout. Ya done good, kiddo. Happy anniversary, eat, drink and be merry and remember that spitfire silver is this years new black 😉

  5. It’s a fine achievement, and not something I would have expected from the author of the diary excerpts you’ve published here. Bravo. You hairstyle reminds me of several American film actors. No one whose name I can remember, but I’m sure they were never playing the hero.

    • Thanks, pal. Overall a most satisfying experience, “classic” hairstyle notwithstanding. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. It hasn’t fallen out and that counts for something. All the moves of a film actor without the income.

  6. Congratulations and happy anniversary! What a lovely wedding picture, your bride looks like a lovely free spirit. I can imagine what you mean about celebrating your anniversary on 9/11, I felt a slight sense of that handing in my dissertation yesterday and then celebrating afterwards! But actually, if anything it should make us celebrate the good things more because it’s a reminder that we’re lucky to have those good things and we must cherish and make the most of them.

    • Thank you, Ms. C and congrats on your long, difficult writing slog. It’s good to see you.

      I agree that a little perspective, a little it-could-have-been-us, can go a long way towards rendering an even deeper appreciation. How’s that for turning it on its head?

  7. Way to go. 15 years is no joke. That’s longer than any of Elizabeth Taylor’s, I think. But yeah, good picture too. You guys look happy. And then with marriage, happiness is a choice. Got to work at it every day, and by the looks of it you have.

    • 15 isn’t a joke! You’re right! Liz had all that cash to distort her sense of priority and decorum. Too much cash leaves you free to walk and not tough it out and work out the kinks. Thank goodness we’re not wealthy or we might never have weathered the storms.

  8. Awesome picture of you and your bride, Mark. It does seem sad that 9/11 co-opted your anniversary for so many years – but you broke through that. Sorry I’m a bit late to the blog but I got behind this week.

    That must have been a life changing experience for you to be living so close to the twin towers when they fell. it changed my world and I live in another country – all those innocent people killed by the deliberate planning of an organized group – evil, in my mind.

    You’re a hardworking man Mark to have stayed the course in a 15 year relationship. It is great to see this these days when so many marriages fail. Although I have had long relationships, I’ve never been married. It is heartwarming to know it can be a happy union.

    Great Post Mark. Thank You.

    • Thanks, Paul. I’ve been at this for 5 1/2 years and that might be the first pic of her that’s ever appeared in this blog! I’m sure she doesn’t mind.

      The odd thing about 9/11 is that my daughters are taught about it in school. It feels weird to look in their history books and see an account of something that’s still so vividly in my mind. Everything else in their books are just abstracts. I have no point of reference beyond what’s on the printed page. But we lived through this mess.

      This area of New Jersey I live in lost a lot of people. A lot of suburban moms and dads were in the towers that day so they still take it so, so seriously. But my bride and I are back to celebrating, and that’s as it should be.

      Thanks again for your good wishes and, as always, for your thoughtful commentary.

  9. I don’t think the rest of the country really knows what the residents of NYC had to go through on 9/11 and the weeks after. I saw a picture once that had a bridge crowded with people trying to exit the city on foot. I feel sorry for your wife who had to make that walk and you, who couldn’t do anything about her suffering, especially carrying your child. Kind of like St. Joe and the BVM walking to Bethlehem from Nazareth.

    • Hi Tom. Nice to see you. Don’t feel sorry for my wife and I! We survived! A lot of people never made it home that day, walking or not. It was an experience that bonded us together. It was a rough few months until things got somewhat settled. We feel like we went through something awful together. It’s something thing we’ll always share. It makes for a damn good bit of “keep it in perspective” during arguments about silly things.

  10. That’s a good run Sir, 15 years is nothing to sneeze at, someday i will tell the story of what i was doing on that day, of course it was nothing good but it was one of the strangest days i think we’ve ever lived and when i look back at what i was doing i can only shake my head, i was literally America in a nutshell that day but it’s for a post not the comments… congrats again and your anniversary just so happens to coincide with my birthday.

  11. Happy 15th anniversary, checking in a few days late to extend your party, my friend. I’m glad you and your bride took back the day. My brother-in-law walked across the bridge on 9/11 and finally got a cab to meet my sister back at their house in Malverne so our family could let out our collective breath at last. He hasn’t returned to Ground Zero since. Oh, what that day did to so many people.

    Your wedding day photo is pure bliss. Revisit that spirit when you get cranky, dude. Please pass along my hurrah to the Mrs., too, Mark.

    • Thank you, Mark! That was quite heartfelt. I appreciate it. Do you want to hear something funny? I STILL haven’t been to ground zero. I actually want to go. The memorial is supposed to be spectacular from an architectural standpoint, but I just haven’t done it. I went down with my neighbor across the hall few days after. What a huge mess. I didn’t think they’d have the mountain of debris removed for years.

      • If I had seen it firsthand that day, I don’t know if I could go back, Mark. The way you describe the smell a mile away. Good Lord. The visuals I’ve seen of the memorial are spectacular, I agree.

        Yes, my wishes are heartfelt. My first marriage made it to 11 years before imploding, and this permanent second one is one month from our sixth anniversary, although it took us five years together before we eloped. So I am impressed and happy for you two.

      • The 9/11 memorial is one of the most popular attractions in the city. You can’t just walk in. You have to make reservations days ahead if time. And I think it’s expensive. About $25 bucks. I plan on going one day but it seems like a lot to go through. I’ve seen enough, thanks.

  12. Oh, great picture! You guys look so happy. I’m sorry 9/11 happened on your special day, and of course, that it happened at all. I guess the silver lining could be that you can appreciate each other even more on that day, that you survived it together. That was one hell of a long walk you took, and for your wife to be pregnant. That’s tough. I bet your daughter has heard this story.

    • Thanks, Amy. How ironic that I was thoroughly convinced that the numerical sequence of 9-1-1-9-9 was an guarantee of good luck. So much for superstitious numerology.

      Last week, when my 8-year old came home from school and said they discussed “the towers,” I had a brief moment when I honestly didn’t know what she was referring to. That’s healthy, right?

      • Yes! Absolutely healthy. Now you can really celebrate your day. As far as numbers, they can be all powerful, but only if you believe. Otherwise, they feel very random. I hear seven is supposed to be really unlucky. But for me, it’s my lucky number. So there!

  13. Yes, I’ve been a bit M.I.A. No, I havent forgotten to wish you and the Missus a happy anniversary. I am approaching number Two-Five next year (plus 3 more for living in sin prior to the wedded day).

    Also, my parents — rest their souls — got married on Sept 11, 1948!

  14. Reclaim your anniversary! i have a friend who lost his brother to suicide on THE 9/11… he had just learned of deeply tragic personal news, when the news broke that planes were flying into buildings… i always send him a message on the anniversary, telling him i’m thinking of him…

    • Actually, I think I remember that story of yours. You write a few very compelling posts about it, right? Hell yes, we reclaimed it. What good would have it been to abandon our anniversary? No disrespect to anyone who lost a family member, but you have to reclaim joy at some point.

  15. Ahhhh… that’s sweet. I’ve been with my wife 13 years, marriedon September 3rd. That’s right, a few days before that heinous day. We were still in school, didn’t make a big deal of the wedding. We did a second wedding the next year, in August, so we remain totally confused as to which date we should celebrate. As a result, we skip the celebrating entirely.

    You guys are a good-looking couple. Ungreyed hair is overrated!

    • How many years have you been together counting dating. Let’s not leave that out. I’ve been living like a married man for 17 years. It’s just 15 on paper, though. As far as celebrating, you should celebrate in August if the weather is agreeable, but celebrate in September if it’s raining.

      Thanks for the compliment. I wasn’t fishing for one but I’ll take it.

  16. Is it really 15 years since that horrendous day? Does Mrs Exile know you have published her photograph? I know she is shy in that respect. With a successful marriage like yours I always want to know what it was that made her really special to you in the first instance?

    • LOL! That’s funny! It’s been 15 years since OUR WEDDING, but the terror attack was 13 years ago. So 15 years ago was the OPPOSITE of a horrendous day.

      Yes, she knows the photo is up but she is quite obscured so it’s okay. Our marriage has, and will continue to have, longevity because there is no static between us. She keeps me on a loose leash and I work hard so she can have a nice life with the girls. Plus–and this is key–we are excellent at putting arguments behind us and moving on. It’s the most potent weapon in our arsenal.

  17. Beautiful photo, and I am glad you reclaimed your anniversary. My step son’s birthday is Sept 11.

    It is difficult to share a date so infamous, but life must go on. Congrats on 15 years!

    My hub and I will celebrate 17 years on Oct 11. 🙂

    • Thanks for your congrats. I’m glad my Bride and I got past the wreckage to take what is rightfully ours: our anniversary. It took a while.

      17 years is pretty darn good. I dated my Bride for two years prior to getting hitched so, for all intents and purposes, I’ve been livingn like a married man for 17 years. I want credit for time served!

      • Ha, same here! We started dating two years before and moved in together shortly after so we also have that anniversary we celebrate. 19 happy years and counting! You are right, in this disposable world, we should be proud of ourselves! And I love that you call her your bride. My hub does that and it still makes me :-).

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