Fifty years together

1966. Vietnam. Race Riots. LSD. Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”. The Surveyor 1 lands in the moon. Star Trek’s first episode.

Meanwhile in Spain, a B-52 crashes over Spain releasing 4 hydrogen bombs. The minister for information and tourism —in a visual definition of what it means to be an hidalgo and a demagogue— swims in the area to defuse the alarm of contamination.

Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara are still part of Spain. US-backed Francoist regime is still strong thanks to new economic policies that seem miraculous after the idiotic period of autarky.

But the country is moving. Students have started to associate and protest. Yé-yé is becoming a thing and the “minis” are increasingly popular. There are 500.000 cars and 1.8M TV sets in the country and censoring foreign trends and culture is increasingly difficult.

And in this strange, exciting, difficult world two crazies on their early twenties decide to get married. That’s right. Fifty years ago today my parents got married.

In a world where life-long relationships are increasingly a forgotten fantasy, I admire them more than ever. First, I admire and owe them as parents. You’ve probably heard the cliché “You just won’t understand until you’re a parent”. Well, I think that’s utter bullshit.

Unless you’re a fridge or specially callous cucumber it’s perfectly possible to empathise with the difficulties of two human beings dealing with a smartass teenager. Or waking up at 3 a.m. to a high-pitch crying baby. Watching your 5 years old falling and breaking his arm. Being madly worried in a pre-mobile era until you kid comes back home.

Cooking every meal, every day, three times a day for decades without getting a single thanks. Sacrificing your free time and dreams to kickstart theirs. Fretting about making the right choices. Walking the line between tolerance and discipline when your child stinks to smoke again. Teaching some ethical values to a volatile, foolish youngster.

Restraining yourself when your son breaks his expensive glasses for third time in week. And then… make it all again with another little one. You don’t need to be a parent to understand the burdens when you reflect on your role on them. I just hope to be able to do it half as well as they have done when my time comes.

But I appreciate what they have achieved as couple too. Marriage is complex because it’s a living organism. It’s shifting all the time as its members. One moves from the romantic irrationality of the first moments to —if you’re lucky— a much more important joyful, self-chosen, decades-long partnership. You find external pressures all the time: money, job opportunities –or the lack of them– family, society, ageing.

Any of these factors on its own is more than enough to end a marriage. But as if this would be not enough then you’ve the internal pressures too: bad years, epic arguments, middle-age crises, failing to be yourself, failing to honor your partner as deserves, failing to adapt to a changing person, both you and the other. Overcoming all this requires such strong commitment to embrace the whole personality of another human being that I can’t imagine a more clear display of love. And when it works… it something to behold.

Enduring this voyage for 50 years is mind-blowing and I feel today as the luckiest person on earth from being a part of it.

Mom, Dad: I love you, I admire you and I thank you.