Experience>Paper, Cotton, Leather


This scene from The Darjeeling Limited is pretty much what I’m expecting from our trip to India. I can’t wait. 

On September 24, my boyfriend and I will be in Indiaon a train on our way from Darjeeling to Kolkata, if all goes well. We’ll also be celebrating our six-year anniversary. We didn’t feel it was necessary to schedule any special plans because what could possibly be more special than being in India? I did take a peek at the list of “traditional” anniversary gifts and the sixth year would typically involve candy or iron so, of course, I fully plan to eat Indian candy on that day.

But we’ve never been much for following tradition when it comes to anniversaries, or much of anything else for that matter. Instead of flowers and cards and jewelry, we opt for experiences. From everything I’ve read, that’s actually a pretty typical millennial approach—prioritizing experiences above things. Don’t get me wrong, I fully plan on coming back from India with a suitcase stuffed full of fabric and art and anything else I can fit. I just don’t happen to think that things are necessarily the best representation of a relationship.

So, I broke down our six years of anniversaries to create a new, experience-based anniversary celebration/gift system:


We survived. I’m not sure either of us really believed it at this point though. Also, neither us wanted to give a thumbs up, but apparently that’s just something you’re supposed to do after you sky dive.

One Year. On our first anniversary, Colin surprised me by taking us skydiving, which was something I’d never had the opportunity to do but desperately wanted to do, and something we were both a little terrified of. I think it was a perfect anniversary present because it’s something neither of us will ever forget. In honor of this, I propose that the one year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve something that neither partner has ever done, and something that you’re at least a little afraid/nervous about.

Two Year. On our two-year anniversary, Colin and I took a weekend trip somewhere very familiar and beloved to us both. Disneyland. In a way, that’s totally cliche, I know. But the point is that it was something we had both done but never together, a place we knew we enjoyed and now had an opportunity to enjoy together. In honor of this, I propose that the two year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve an activity or place both of you have been or experienced independently but never together.

Three Year. On our three-year anniversary, we hiked to some hot springs in Big Sur and spent the night camping there. In the spirit of honesty, it wasn’t my favorite anniversary, mostly because I discovered that I apparently do not like to feel trapped and a 10-mile hike both ways with a pack on my back apparently makes me feel trapped. But part of the motivation was to prepare us for our trip to Peru which would involve a hiking trek to Machu Pichu two months after our anniversary. In honor of this, I propose that the three-year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve nature and/or a physical challenge, however you define that.

Four Year. On our four-year anniversary, we were a few weeks away from a wedding of two close friends which I was performing and Colin was photographing and two months away from a trip to Indiana and Turkey (Indiana for a friend’s wedding and Turkey because it’s freaking Turkey) and we were much too exhausted to plan anything elaborate. Instead, we splurged on dinner at our favorite local restaurant, which was Luna Red. In honor of this, I propose that the four-year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve your favorite food without guilt or too much consideration of cost.

Five Year. On our five-year anniversary, Colin and I were both somewhat tapped physically, emotionally, and financially from buying a house, which we moved into exactly two weeks before our anniversary. We pretty much agreed to simply appreciate our house and instead dedicate that energy and time to making the house perfect. In honor of this, I propose that the five year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve a shared expression of appreciation for what you have and where you are. That might sound lazy or unexciting but I genuinely believe that some of the most rewarding adventures can occur close to home.


Another possible interpretation of our India experience (minus the fact that they’re related), also stolen from The Darjeeling Limited. 

Six Year. As mentioned above, we’ll be on a train between Darjeeling and Kolkata and if neither of us is sick at this point, I will consider the anniversary a successful one. In honor of this, I propose that the six-year anniversary experiential present/celebration involve traveling as far from home as is financially possible and experiencing something new together.

My point is not that there’s only one way to celebrate or that one method of celebrating is superior to another. I just happen to believe that every couple is different and what works for some couples might feel inauthentic or forced to another couple. I don’t think we’ve ever had a candlelit dinner and neither of us reacts well to being forced to dress up or behave in a manner approximating adults.

Popping malaria pills and battling Delhi belly is a more accurate expression of our relationship than roses and a four-course meal at a restaurant where Colin would feel resentful of being forced to put on shoes with laces and I’d spend the entire evening convinced that I was over- or under-dressed. It’s not a perfect representation of us; we’ll both be missing our cats and dog (more than I am prepared to think about right now given that we depart in six days) and I probably won’t be wearing footie pyjamas, but it’s an experience neither of us is likely to forget barring Alzheimer’s or dementia, of course.


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