Home Columns Tom’s Train of Thought: A pandemic, an Anniversary & a New Pair of Shoes

Tom’s Train of Thought: A pandemic, an Anniversary & a New Pair of Shoes

by Tom Cuda

How do you celebrate an anniversary during a global pandemic? 

Well, truth be told, as with any kind of life advice, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Trying to figure out how to celebrate one of the best days of your life in the midst of all of the anxiety, pain and suffering that’s going on is no easy task. And a solution that works for one couple won’t always work for another. Life is messy, it’s complicated, and we’re all doing our best to thrive and be the best version of ourselves. 

So, why bother offering any advice at all? 

Because we’re social creatures. Humans need other humans to survive. Since the beginning of our species, we’ve gathered together and used our common experiences to help us navigate life. In the modern era, we have so many more tools and spaces to help us find other humans who share similar experiences, similar joys, and similar pains.

But, that exposure to content also brings along the plethora of “If you just do X, your life will be perfect” kind of advice. I very much dislike that type of black-and-white thinking, and I want to avoid it here. I’m not going to try to say any one thing is the perfect solution to a problem. I’m here to talk through my own experience, my process for handling it and anything I learned when it was over. 

I find writing to be therapeutic. It helps me organize my thoughts and tackle the myriad of things that fill my brain at any given moment. I began writing this column, “Tom’s Train of Thought,” as a way to chronicle the adventures of life and to share whatever wisdom comes from the mistakes and successes that come from the situations life throws my way.

Whether it’s marriage, friendships, books, amusement parks, film, the outdoors or etc., I’ll write about it. There are lessons to learn across every activity and hobby we take part in, if we look for them. So, my hope is that this column will serve as a way to use my love of writing to create a fun, empathetic, respectful and thoughtful space to engage in community with one another. Now that this context exists, let’s get back to the original question. 

How do you celebrate an anniversary during a global pandemic? 

In the case of my wife and me, the solution centers on two custom pairs of Nike sneakers. 

We had been racking our brains trying to figure out what would be an appropriate way to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. A solution wasn’t easy to find. 

For us, celebrations usually turn into trips. We usually go visit a city we’ve never been to. We’ll travel somewhere to see a play or a musical, or we’ll save up some extra money and take a long weekend in another state. It’s a tradition that has consistently led to some of the best moments of my life. 

This year, that wasn’t going to happen. COVID-19 was in full swing long before May, and we were just getting out of lockdown in Florida. We did our best to only leave the house for walks around our neighborhood or to go to the grocery store. For most of April, we sat at home and enjoyed each other’s company – or tried not to get on each other’s nerves. We were left with the task of trying to determine what could measure up to the joys of a big trip for us. 

I decided to work our way through it by breaking it into a few different parts.

1. Managing Expectations

It’s important to be realistic and to understand what is possible when under circumstances you can’t control. Of course we weren’t going to be able to capture the same magic that exploring a new city provides for us. These weren’t ordinary circumstances, and we had to choose to make the best of what we had. We chose to talk about what was realistic, what we could do and where we could improve our situation and have a little fun. 

Tom and Ally’s custom Nike sneakers they designed for each other to celebrate their second anniversary of being married. The number 27 on them represents the day they got married – May 27, 2018.

2. Gifts

Trips are usually our gift to one another, and they’re special to us. For this year we wanted to find gifts that would enhance a future trip or outing together since we couldn’t take one this year. My wonderful wife came up with the idea of custom-making sneakers for each other so we’d have new, comfortable shoes for all of our adventures together. We each took time to design about six different options for the other person, and then we chose them and bought them. We marked them each with the number 27 for our anniversary – May 27, 2018. 

3. Date Night

Nothing earth-shattering here, but it was still special for us. We got delivery from a local restaurant in town, put our phones away, watched a movie together and went for a walk at sunset. We took time to slow things down and take control of our situation. We did our best to wade through the stress and uncertainty of the coronavirus and steal back a moment for ourselves. 

Of course, we’re still not through the worst of COVID-19, which is why I wanted to share our anniversary experience. For all the other couples who are looking at anniversaries or milestones coming up and wondering what to do and how to add that touch of special into a moment filled with anxiety and uncertainty, I have only one answer: just try. Everyone deserves to be able to take time and remind themselves that they’re worth it. This time that we lose to coronavirus is time we can’t ever get back. Let’s not give it away so easily and put pause on everything.

Our 2020 anniversary certainly won’t be in our Top Ten list a few decades from now, but it will be one that I always remember. It will occupy a space all its own. It will always be the anniversary that we celebrated during a pandemic. I know not every couple is going to go out and buy sneakers for one another, but I hope the sentiment of the idea is what sticks. 

I hope that everyone who reads this can take away something to apply to their situation to create that special moment with their loved ones. 

Find me on Twitter @ThomasCuda and check out my other columns here on In-Between Media.

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