As I approach my fifth wedding anniversary, I reflect on my marriage and on elephants. That's right, elephants.
My husband proposed to me on the back of an Asian elephant in the teak forests of Changmai, the main city in the northern tip of Thailand. The proposal, at the end of a spontaneous two-week trip to Thailand (after I woke up one morning to hear about a great deal on the radio), was as much a surprise to me as the trip was to everyone else.
My husband and I were not "elefriends" or collectors before that special day in May, but we are bona fide ones now. Our wedding invitations sported a pop-up elephant drawn especially for us by a friend. My wedding gown was an elephant-patterned sari bought for $5 at the Night Market in Bangkok, and David wore an elephant-patterned silk tie from the same vendor.
I had an elephant ring-toss game for the kiddies to play at our wedding, and we gave out favors of laminated, wallet-sized photos of David and me on the back of the elephant that all our friends and family had heard about.
Needless to say, elephant items became easy, default gifts to give us, and we've received everything from artful Buddhist elephants to kitschy cartoon ones.
Now, with a son in the picture, we are sure to meet the likes of Dumbo and Babar more than once. We can't really complain, though, seeing that we did sort of start the whole thing, and we've continued it with elephant-themed clothes and toys for our son.
The growing herd of elephant-inspired stuff surrounds me when I walk through our house. I pump soap from an elephant-shaped dispenser and dry my hands on elephant towels. I sit and read elephant books to my son and rest his head on an elephant pillow when he falls asleep.
Our house, however, will not become the "1,001 Elephants Museum." I don't have an elephant ceiling fan (spinning trunks, of course), or an elephant sprinkler in the front yard, or an elephant Pez candy dispenser in my purse.
I know where to draw the line.
For the record, I do not collect ivory or own an elephant-foot wastebasket; I'm proud to be a cruelty-free collector. No elephants were harmed in the decorating of my house.
Looking back on the first chapter of our marriage, I have much to appreciate. I have a wonderful husband and son who'll seek out the next great elephant acquisition with me and not complain, although I do wonder how many times Clarke will let me put him into an elephant costume for Halloween.
As we plan for a big party to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and I dust off the elephant bride and groom cake topper to display once again, I wonder how else my life will continue to be touched by elephants. Will we make it back to Thailand someday to share the magic with our son? Will he take his special someone to Thailand decades from now, planning a surprise elephant ride of his own?
Whatever the future may bring, I currently have elephant-made music and art in mind to help round out my collection. I'm looking forward to watching Clarke's expression as he listens to percussive pachyderm tunes and gets an early lesson in art transcending borders. The elephant is certainly our metaphorical totem animal, occupying a prominent place in our family crest. And as the elephant never forgets, neither will I forget how it all began - with a simple question, and my affirmative answer.