Some of you may be familiar with the story of how Tawn and I met. It is a good story, one that should be made into a movie or written into a book. It is also a story that took place a long time ago. Twenty years ago, to be exact. So this weekend, we flew to Hong Kong, where the first meeting took place, to celebrate our twentieth anniversary of meeting.
To celebrate, a friend arranged a harbor cruise aboard the Aqualuna, a Chinese junk with vibrant red sails. It was a bit chilly but pleasant to spend 45 minutes viewing the city lights, sipping sparkling wine and munching snacks. This city holds many memories for us and it has changed and grown over the past two decades, just as we have.
Because the friend who arranged this cruise had connections, we were treated to a bit more than the usual level of hospitality and felt very welcome aboard. By the time we disembarked in Tsim Sha Tsui, navigating the step from the bobbing boat to the solid shore was a bit more challenging.
A short walk up the street, we arrived at our dinner destination, Aqua, located on the 28th floor of One Peking Road. Part of the same group as the cruise, we had a romantic table overlooking the harbor below. The service was attentive and the staff surprised us with a dessert platter to celebrate our anniversary.
On a trip to Hong Kong a few years ago, Tawn and I tried something different in the way of dinner conversation: to act as if we didn’t know each other and to ask the questions we would normally ask when first meeting another person. It was a fun way to re-introduce ourselves to each other and to learn a few things that we hadn’t known.
Similarly, Tawn had prepared a list of a dozen or more questions that served as the spark for our dinner conversation Friday night, ranging from questions about our earliest memories to what our family lives were like as children to who our more influential teacher was. While many of the questions covered ground with which we were already familiar, the context felt new and I think it was a chance to rediscover what shapes each other and makes us who we are.
The rest of the weekend was spent visiting friends, including some former colleagues, and wandering around the city seeing familiar sights. This is a city that has always appealed to us, a place that we would love to have the chance to live in. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but it is certainly a place we enjoy getting away to every so often.
As for the twenty years together, what reflections do I have? Twenty years is a long time and so many things have happened that it seems a challenge to make sense of it. When my grandparents celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary two years ago, I asked for some wisdom about how they made it. My grandmother laughed and said, “You take it one day at a time.”
That was a wholly unsatisfying answer but I recognize the truth in it. At every step of the relationship, there have been moments of challenge and frustration that make you wonder how you can stand each other for another minute. And there are moments of joy and bliss when being together seems fore-destined. And those moments sometimes follow one right after the other.
Over dinner, we talked about the secret to our relationship’s longevity. After discussing a few things, we agreed that the biggest factor was that both of us were willing to learn and grow. Relationships don’t work when you expect the other person to do all the changing. Even when the other person has some significant changing that needs to happen, to only thing you can really influence is yourself, so you need to see what change you are capable of – and willing to make.
Who knows what the future holds? But if my grandparents’ genes are any indicator, we could have another forty years or more years ahead of us. So that’s something like 14, 600 days, one at a time. Happy anniversary, honey.
You guys are so sweet to each other. I really enjoyed this read. I really like Tawn’s idea of asking these interesting questions and that’s the first time I’ve heard of couples introducing themselves to each other as if they were strangers. So cute. Congratulations to you both on 20 years!
Thank you. By the way, we will be down in Sydney in May.
Oh! Would love to meet up if you guys are free. I’ve put a reminder in my diary 🙂
I JUST ABSOLUTELY LOVE TUIS POST! Congratulations to you and Tawn, and I hope you will be able to celebrate many many decades of romantic and loving and healthy anniversaries.
❤ ❤ ❤
Thanks Dr. Zakiah.
The word is supposed to be THIS, in my comment above.
Congratulations again – I remember the story of how you guys met. The re-introduction sounds intriguing. How did you guys come up with this? Thanks for writing about sustaining long term relationships. I always like to read about how other couples are dealing with this.
Thanks Matt. It was Tawn’s idea.
Great post 🙂
Happy anniversary!!!! Love your grandmother’s advice! Celebrating your anniversary where you met as if you were strangers sounds intriguing! Glad you two had a good time. I hope you write the book/ movie one day about how you met!!!!!
I see celebrating your anniversary and acting as strangers were two different trips…. Haha! Both great memories nonetheless! 😀 May the two of you share many more wonderful moments together!
Happy anniversary. I actually love your grandmothers advice and had a bit of a chuckle when you wrote the bit about not being able to stand each other for another minute which then switched to happiness with each other. I can totally relate. Wish you guys many more years of happiness together.
CONGRATS!! hugs to the both of you.