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I Made It To Eight (Anniversary Edition)

I heard the two words that you don’t want to be surprised by this morning.

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I was awoken this morning by the worst two words that you ever want to be surprised by. 

“Happy anniversary.”

I had completely forgotten. 

I had completely forgotten to the degree that I couldn’t even fake it. 

While I haven’t always been the best anniversary partner, I had at least never cconpletely forgotten it before. I guess I’m 7 for 8 — that isn’t bad, right?

Bu I felt bad. It was the exact opposite of what I should have done to show my appreciation for the person who took care of my two kids so I could run around the world doing research for books and making documentaries. 

Somehow, I would have out to make up for it. I put off working and headed out with my wife and kids to celebrate. I don’t know who made up this rule, but, apparently, you’re supposed to give ceramics as a gift for an eighth anniversary. So we headed out to a local ceramic factory that makes the bottles for Kaoliang liquor. It seemed appropriate. 

Taiwan is the fifth different country that we are celebrating an anniversary in. 

For our first anniversary my wife and I were in the jungles of Guatemala. Petra was still a baby — a couple of months away from her first birthday. We found a babysitter and went kayaking down a river only to find that we kind of sucked at kayaking. Later on we went skinny dipping. We were a little better at that. 

For our second anniversary I was in Iceland and my wife was in Maine. I had yet to establish the fact that I would sometimes be traveling away from the family for work. However, at that time “work” consisted of blogging on Vagabond Journey, so my position then wasn’t as cinvincias it is now. My wife’s family took her out for Mexican food to make her feel better. 

For our third anniversary we were in China, staying in a small tier-4 city called Taizhou. I believe we went out to a restaurant called Water Paradise. 

For our fourth annniversary we were still on Taizhou, and one of my wife’s coworkers took Petra out shopping so Hannah and I could go out. We ate steak. 

The next year we were in Xiamen, in the southeast of China. Petea went over to a friend’s house to stay the night for the first time. I bought Hannah a new dress and we went out and drank some cocktails.

On our sixth anniversary Hannah was fully pregnant. We got hamburgers in Bangor. 

For our seventh anniversary we were in Krakow. Rivka was sick. Hannah had been holed up in a hotel room with her for days. She hadn’t really eaten anything in 72 hours besides little pastries that I would bring to her. It was miserable. But I talked her into leaving the hostel for an hour or so to get hamburgers, cake, and a latte. 

Our anniversaries haven’t always been the best of days. But there is something about this that I kind of like. It is easy to be with anyone when the times are good — how much fun you have with someone is irrelevant. It’s in  the tough times, the less than perfect set ups, the long roads that you just want to come to an end that you really need somebody — where someone’s true mettle really comes out. 

Each anniversary I feel really satisfied with myself — real fucking smug, in fact — because I chose/earned/lucked out with an inordinately incredible person. I won that lottery. 

This is a woman who married a travel blogger with next to no prospects and believed in him — believed in him enough to fully support the entire family for a year so he could write his first book. I think back to that period and I’m still absolutely awe struck. That really happened. That person really did that for me. 

Anniversaries are really difficult days for me. It’s really tough to come up with something to show how much you appreciate someone like that. 


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Filed under: Family, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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