Seven or Eight / by Susie Lubell

Yesterday was my anniversary. My husband and I have been married for seven years. And even though it's plain as day on our family calendar, neither of us remembered. Well, that's not true. I remembered at around 9:30 pm and my husband remembered when I told him that I remembered. What a couple of dopes. But then we decided it was OK because we have the back-up anniversary on the 15th, in which case it will be eight years. Maybe I should back up.

My husband and I got engaged in April of 2001. We were backpacking around the world for eight months before I started graduate school. We had been together for about four years and I was thinking at some point on this trip we'd get engaged. But as the months passed and still no proposal or even suggestion, I was losing patience. In April we were in Nepal doing a three week trek around the Annapurna range and we actually almost broke up which I will blame on the altitude so no one's feelings get hurt, namely mine. After the trek we stayed one final night in a one star guest house in Kathmandu before flying to India for the final leg of our trip and the next morning my boyfriend proposed. He had invited me to the monkey temple and asked a monk to perform a traditional engagement ceremony where we drank holy water and they put saffron powder in our hair. OK, that's a lie. In fact, that morning I came out of the bathroom of our seedy hotel after a very successful output (not always the case when traveling in Southeast Asia), climbed into bed and my boyfriend said, I think we should get married. Just like that. First an outstanding bowel movement and now this? Someone pinch me. And so we were engaged.

Fast forward four months and we're in Chapel Hill, North Carolina finishing up some summer prerequisites and it comes to my attention that married students can apply for in-state tuition in their second year if their spouse is paying North Carolina state tax and you can make a case that you are planning to stay even after graduation. That's a $15,000 savings. We have just reserved a date for our wedding for the August 11, 2002. It's August 15, 2001. I say to my fiance, listen we could be saving a lot of money so let's get hitched.

And that's how we came to get married on August 15, 2001. I went up to my friend Ali after statistics class and said, we're getting married after accounting. Can you and Eric be our witnesses? So she and her husband, whom we have known for two weeks, follow us to the Chapel Hill police station. We pay the $30, say our I dos, sign some papers and it's a done deal. Ali is crying. My husband and I are a little stunned. Eric says, Sushi? We indeed went out for sushi and Ali and Eric are two of our best friends to this day.

And that's why, on the 15th, we'll be celebrating with sushi.