21 Years of Memories

I'm a big proponent of taking lots of photos and writing trip reports.  Some of it acts as fodder for this blog, but I really do it to hold onto memories.  Because believe it or not, even the most intense memories can fade over time.  Photos and notes are my windows back to those memories.

I wish I took my own advice more seriously; especially early on in my married life.

I was married 21 years ago today.  The wedding is a blur.  There are photos (actual film had to be used back then and we had disposable cameras at the reception) which remind me of the evening.  (There is also a video which I haven't watched in years, but my husband did have it transferred to a digital format so I CAN still watch it.  Back in 1996 having my cousin use a hand held video camera was pretty cutting edge!)  It is because of the photos that I remember moments like our first dance (to the Eagles "Love Will Keep Us Alive"), dancing with my father and brother, and all the people who attended our special day.  This is especially poignant as my brother and great uncle Harold are no longer alive.

It is the photos that bring back the flood of memories from the next day.  Helping to clean up the venue where the wedding and reception was held.  (Whoever thought that would be FUN?) Getting to eat some of the leftovers and realizing what amazing food we had, but we never really got to eat.  (I don't think I even drank much at the wedding.)  Driving home to the surprise of our neighbor.  Writing thank you notes (something that my mother drilled into my brain at a young age).  Packing for our flight the next day to Orlando.

I had planned on keeping a diary of our honeymoon.  The only reason I KNOW I actually tried 21 years later is because of a photo my husband took of ME in our hotel room (Contemporary Resort; 1st floor room in the long gone North Garden Wing).  Our honeymoon photos are few and like many couples it looks like we were on our own separate vacations!  (Photos of me, photos of him, but very few of the two of us!)  The sparse notes and photos remind me that we went to Epcot our first day (a first for both of us), enjoyed The Living Seas, Horizons and the Universe of Energy (which had just reopened with Ellen's Energy Adventure), and dined at the Rose and Crown (and didn't know to ask to have a seat outside so could enjoy Illuminations).  What happened in between that Sunday and Friday are a blur:  a dinner (or two) at the defunct Concourse Steakhouse, lunch at Akershus (before the Princesses took over), lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby (meh), and being eyed at Goofy's Kitchen (a story unto itself and not one you want on your honeymoon) in Downtown Disney.  Daring to try the Tower of Terror (so cool, if only you didn't have to do the horrible drop!), Space Mountain (hubby thought his head was going to be cracked open on a beam), and Alien Encounter (I really thought the alien was going to spit goo at me and I would freak out).  Meeting Mickey Mouse (one of the few photos I have of the two of us).  Riding Horizons over and over again (and so glad that we did). Afternoons at the pool and evenings in the hot tub with fireworks going off.  And a final meal at Chef Mickeys, which I NEVER would have remembered if I didn't see the photos. (It looks like I had a heck of a good time when I was there too.)

We USED to plan our vacation around our anniversary.  Since it was after Labor Day it was a good time to travel.  We went back to Disney for our first anniversary.  Saved some money (ha!) and spent nearly a week in Cape Cod for our second.  (Of which I remember only the car battery dying after the double feature at drive in.  We saw The Parent Trap which we love and Armageddon which we didn't.)  

It wasn't until our third anniversary (when we returned to Disney; although we were celebrating a month later due to the fact that I had just started a new job) that I started writing "trip reports" which I can use for reference.  How else would I be able to remember our late evening flight and my inability to sleep the night we arrived?  Or how this was the trip where my husband became obsessed with Disney audio.  (There were kiosks where you could make CDs; he needed an extra suitcase to carry everything home.)  Or how something I ate at lunch in Epcot disagreed with me and I threw up in a gift bag on the monorail back to the TTC.
(Photo taken not long before the monorail "incident")

As a result of my keeping notes and taking photos (still on film) I can look back on the 4 trips we took over the 2000-2001 season.  
Taking a week long trek in September 2000 where we stayed at the Polynesian; a quick weekend trip down in December 2000 to take part in holiday festivities (Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and Epcot's Candlelight Processional); another long weekend trip in May where we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge before it's "official" opening and the unforgettable (for all the WRONG reasons) trip in September 2001.

After that anniversary trips and celebrations were a little closer to home.  Another trip to Cape Cod one year; a visit to the White Mountains of New Hampshire another.  (Drove my car up Mt. Washington and got a bumper sticker for my efforts.  Probably would NOT do that again!)  Finances got tighter and we tried to start a family.  

It should come as no surprise that I can't remember ANYTHING about our anniversary the year our son was born.  (Although I think I was still taking notes on his daily nutrition intake and output so maybe there is something there.)  There haven't been many big anniversary trips since his birth.  The exception being 2008 (12th anniversary; not a number worth noting) when we were doing ok financially and my son was old enough (in my book) to travel (and maybe even enjoy) Disney.  He, of course, came down with some horrible cold right before and was on medication.  That along with flight/bus sickness made for fun travels. (Especially when I ran out of tissues/napkins/anything to clean him AND my husband up.)  But it did make for a memorable arrival at the Contemporary resort where my vomit covered husband and son went to the gift shop to buy new shirts while I checked us in.  What made it all the more memorable was the look on my husband's face when he realized that we were being escorted up to the hotel's concierge level for the week.  (Warning:  Once you've done that you'll be spoiled for life.)

Now here we are at anniversary 21.  It's a weekday and there's nothing special planned.  But there have been memories made (and kept thanks to photographs and note taking).  There will be more to come.  And I will keep taking those photos (annoying the heck out of many) and writing.  I'm holding onto those memories any way I can because they are important.  Even as they fade from my brain; I have left myself a trail of reminders.  So that in another 21 years I'll have so many more wonderful things to look back on.


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