Wow! Can you believe it? Bill and I have been married for 46 years. Our anniversary is today, the same day as Father’s Day. He’s a dad, too, twice. Probably the biggest question for me is, where in the world has the time gone? And who are those two strange people who stare back at us in the mirror every morning when we stiffly climb out of bed? We kind of look a bit different now!
I first met Bill on New Year’s Eve, 1963. I was waiting tables at my dad’s ski lodge in Killington, Vermont where he was staying as a guest with his girlfriend and her family. They were in the process of breaking up. He was at Columbia working on a Masters in International Education, while I was a junior at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont working toward a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. He lived in New York City. I lived at home down the driveway from the lodge and commuted to classes everyday. On weekends in the winter I waited tables and cleaned rooms at the lodge, using my wages and tips to pay my way through school. I was dating a guy who worked for my dad as a ski bum and wanted 8 kids. I was not interested in him or in having 8 kids. He was just a nice guy who was on winter break from school and loved to ski. Bill and I were introduced as I was waiting on his table. We shook hands and probably muttered some meaningless greeting.
The next time I saw him, was in the summer of the same year. I was just arriving home from my job as a cashier at a local super market (the lodge was closed in the summer), when he emerged from the bathroom at my parents home having just showered. He and his roommate from college, Russ had bought a piece of property at Killington and were just getting started building a ski house. Russ, an architect would do the designing and they’d build a round stone house through the summer and into the next year on weekends and school breaks. My dad, an architect and builder himself, was their friend and connection through which they went about hiring workers and learning the ins and outs of building in the area. My brothers on summer break, worked for Bill and Russ as gophers, digging ditches, carrying lumber and whatever else could be done by preteen kids for very low wages. Living in a tent on the land, Bill and Russ, were invited to use our shower facilities any time. So they both became what could only be described as fixtures who would emerge from their hot and sweaty building activities to use the shower every afternoon.
They’d often hang around for dinner and take my brothers and a few other local kids, also working on the Round House, to the movies in the evenings as a way to make the kids feel that they were getting a big bonus for their work. One evening Bill happened to ask me if I would like to go along. Since living at Killington in the summer was like living at the end of the road in the farthest reaches of the universe, I said sure, not knowing that he was actually asking me out … like on a date. I had never been asked on a date with a guy who would be toting along his roommate and 4 or 5 junior high aged kids. What did I know? About half way down the mountain into Rutland, I asked what movie they were going to see. There were two small movie houses in town. Bill said that he and the kids were going to see a Tarzan movie. Russ was going to see Hud, starring Paul Newman and Patricia Neal. I said I’d like to tag along with Russ not knowing I had just insulted the man I would marry one day.
After that little fiasco, Bill asked me out again, but this time Russ and the kids were not in attendance. We went to summer stock productions in the area and ate delicious dinners together. We were both very shy but before long I decided I really liked this guy. There were no bells ringing and sparks flying at the time, but I considered him a very good friend. Once the summer was over and everyone went back to school, Bill went back to the Big Apple, returning frequently on weekends to work on the house. By that time, his tent was furnished with a fridge, a small TV and a telephone, but he still came to my house for his daily shower and my mom’s great food. As winter approached he’d stay at the lodge, playing the guitar in the wine cellar in exchange for room and board.
When Bill couldn’t be in Vermont, he’d call me. Letters ensued. I started writing letters back and lo and behold, I started hearing bells and fireworks. We started talking nightly in between his long drives to Vermont on most Friday nights and his long trips back to New York on Sunday evenings. Through the long snowy winters he’d continue to come to Vermont even though he couldn’t work on the house.
You could tell my parents adored him and were like cheer leaders rah-rahing us on into holy matrimony. He had the right kind of name, was the right color and they were anxious to marry me off into a good family.
On the other side of the aisle, Bill’s folks lived in Northern Virginia. His mother, was not too crazy about me. My Polish immigrant last name, Zabski and my being from No-wheres-ville, America wasn’t terribly exciting. Bill was her only child and I’m not sure any woman would have been considered appropriate to her. His dad, on the other hand was a sweetheart.
We made it through all the ins and outs of getting married and tied the knot the week following my college graduation. The rest, as they say, is history. There were two wonderful kids to raise, ups, downs and almost splits, but we always worked through the worse and into the better. It’s been an amazing trip and I cannot imagine what life would be like without my Bill. He is my one and only sweet man!
So here is to us my love, on our 46th! I LOVE YOU!! Happy Anniversary!