4. Anniversary

April 26th, 2020.
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It’s noon, today is Sunday and we are still in our pajamas. A year ago, at this same time, we were getting married. To be honest, this is not the anniversary I was hoping for, but it is the one we got, and thank God we did. So let’s celebrate it. We can’t go to a restaurant for a special dinner. We can’t travel either, which are two hobbies. The new rules of life imposed on us by the COVID-19 confinement, leave us little room to plan our celebration.

It is a little incredible that it has been a year since we declared before the State and before most of our loved ones that we want to be together for the rest of our lives. It doesn’t matter how, but we want to celebrate and toast to that day that will remain forever in our memories.

We got married at the Mijas Town Hall. It was a wonderful morning, a bit windy, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. When we set the date, we were afraid that the weather wouldn’t be nice because April can be rainy. But we decided to take advantage of the fact that my in-laws already had a trip planned to Malaga for that week, and that my sisters-in-law could join. The people from abroad were the biggest concern because they are the ones who require the more complicated logistics.

Until the last moment, there was no clarity about where the wedding was going to take place. Usually, in Mijas, weddings are held in the town hall, but last year there were elections in Spain. The president of the government couldn’t approve the budgets and called early elections. He couldn’t find a better time to hold them than the weekend of my wedding. The ballot drop boxes were to be kept in the assembly hall. We were getting married on a Friday and the elections were on Sunday, so for security reasons, no one could enter or use that space. We were told that we had to get married in an aisle in the middle of a patio on the ground floor. At first, we took this as bad news, but the truth is that the patio is beautiful and it is probably much nicer to get married there than in the assembly hall. The colors of the plants in the traditional Spanish patio broke the monotony of the white of the walls of the city hall. The flowers on Samirah’s dress and on my blouse had the same effect on our snowy white outfits.

Besides the weather and the venue uncertainty, we have plenty of stories to tell about that day. At that time, as Samirah’s Spanish was quite limited, we were told at the town hall that a translator was required for the ceremony. Maybe the poor thing didn’t have a clue about what she was getting herself into. So, we brought a lady -who was Samirah’s Spanish teacher- to do a live translation of the ceremony. The good old Iranian woman was so nervous during the event that she didn’t get to translate at least half of the celebration. The fiasco of the translation itself didn’t upset us as much as seeing the lady’s struggle and embarrassment. In the end, I translated almost everything and the ceremony was beautiful.

Another funny story from that day was that the car that was carrying the brides broke down just before we arrived at Bernardo’s house, where we were having our wedding party. Bernardo is my aunt’s partner and we held the celebration in his fantastic penthouse. My brother-in-law, my father-in-law, and I, in our spotless suits, at 30 degrees, had to push Bernardo’s old Volvo. We can laugh about it now, but the truth is that back then it was a bit stressful for us. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had to cheer me up as we pushed the car.

Once we got to Bernardo’s, everything went perfectly. Thirty people ate, drank, danced, and enjoy the majestic sights of the cathedral and the sea. The location was better than any restaurant or venue and we all felt at home. I wouldn’t change anything about the day I got married, except being able to have my sisters and my dad with me.

Let’s go back to the present. Samirah and I set the table, we will eat on the terrace. Together we cook a recipe sent to us by my mother-in-law. Tagliatelle with avocado pesto, salmon, cherry tomato, and rocket. When the food is ready, we sit down to eat. We toast to the many anniversaries to come.

Unlike the day we got married, today the sky is not that infinite light blue that extends as far as the eye can see, today it is gray. The sky is overcast, covered with clouds pressing against each other, fighting for their own space, clearly sulking, annoyed.

After lunch, we talked to mama and papa. We updated them. Clearly upset, they make a great effort to remain calm and to look positive. We do the same. It’s hard to be away from your loved ones at celebrations, but much worse is not having them in the bad times. For me, that was just the prelude to the day that lies ahead. Since we now know that the results are bad and that there will be hard days to come, there is no point in keeping it a secret. Those who love me and are far away, need to know.

I take Otto for a walk and take the phone and the headset with me. First, it’s my sister’s turn. I didn’t want to bother her until now. She has enough on her plate. In the United States, the situation right now is quite complex with the virus. America has become big again – as Trump preached in his election campaign – but in infections and in deaths. Twenty million Americans have applied for unemployment help, I heard on the news a few days ago. My sister and her family can’t do it. I didn’t want to bother her with another concern until now, but it’s time to do it. As I tell her, she cries in a quiet, resigned way. That’s my sister, much calmer than I am, but much more emotional. I juggle so as not to cry with her. In the background I can hear Nicole’s little voice, demanding her mother’s attention, still innocent of how painful life can be.

After my sister, my father, and my little sister follow. It happens to them as it does to most people, who listen to it but don’t really register it. My father and I talk about the weather and about Trump when we finished the cancer subject. He and I are very much alike in many ways. Especially, in this stillness we show that many times can be seen as indifference.

When night comes, I feel defeated. Like if I had been run over by a truck. Physically tired. I tell Samirah that I feel like I’m carrying a dwarf on my shoulders and she laughs. Tomorrow will be  a better day.

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