June 29, 2002/2012

June 29, 2002

It was so hot that morning, like 142 degrees with 231% humidity. The AC units in our hotel bedroom barely kept up and sweat management became a serious pre-occupation. Our garden wedding in late June didn't seem like such a great idea all of a sudden.

I was doubly sweating because in addition to being hot I was nervous, though not in the cliched, "cold feet", runaway-bride kind of way. More like the "all these people, so many details, me at the center of attention, ALL THESE PEOPLE" kind of way. My stomach was in knots and I took many trips to the bathroom, you know, just to hang out.

I was trying so hard not to get overwhelmed by details, or give anyone a reason to call me Bridezilla, so when my bored hair dresser did a really fast, really lame, really slicked down version of the hairstyle I had wanted, I didn't say anything, it's just hair.  And I said hi to the hair salon bathroom.

When the flowers arrived, and they weren't at all what I had chosen, I didn't say anything, it's just flowers. I visited the bathroom.

When someone called me "Mrs. K-" even though I wasn't changing my last name, well, okay, I said something. I believe that particular something contained a curse word.

And then, of course, the bathroom

When I finally emerged from the bathroom, I got dressed and CG and I saw each other before the ceremony.

It was so hot we decided to take our schfancy, couple-y photos before the ceremony, which was smart, because 5 minutes after walking outside I had rivulets of sweat running down my legs under my mother's silk wedding gown and my forehead could have powered several lamps in Laura Ingall's Little House.

My maid of honor earned her honorific more times than I can count, including a desperate visit to - you guessed it! - the bathroom minutes before the ceremony to hold up my dress so I could greet my Aunt Flo as she arrived for a spectacularly poorly timed visit. EFF.

My BFF also earned her doctorate in Sweat Management that day.

As we got ready to line up for the ceremony I felt myself floating above my body. Am I really here? Am I really at my wedding? Is this really it?

In the months before the wedding, I had nightmares - many, many nightmares - that involved me walking down the aisle gazing at everyone I ever knew and loved and then promptly throwing up at the altar.

(Have I mentioned the bathroom?)

In another twist of fate, a few weeks before the wedding, my dad cut his finger badly, something about riding a tractor and grabbing a wire fence at the same time didn't agree with him. Unfortunately, it got infected and that meant that on my wedding day, he escorted me down the aisle with his middle finger permanently at attention.

As we were walking down that aisle, and the string quartet was playing Bach, and my dad took my elbow in one hand and gave our guests the finger with his other, I was thrilled and giddy just to be there, just to not be throwing up. As I walked I laughed, I sweated, I teared up, I laughed some more.


And then, there at the end of the aisle was CG. My guy. My chosen family. Waiting for me.

Oh right, HIM.

All those details, all those people. I was so busy thinking about flowers and sweating and not throwing up that I forgot what we were here for after all. One touch of his hands brought me back.

I'm here. I'm right here.

The rest of the night was fantastic. Freaking fantastic. We ate very little and danced very much,  danced until our legs literally gave way beneath us and we tore our mother's wedding dress (okay, that was just me).

What a perfect wedding, everyone kept saying to us, completely ignoring the sweltering heat, my ripped wedding dress, my dad's middle finger, the wrong flowers. Such a great day!

We collapsed that night into a sweaty exhausted heap, convinced that this thing, this wedding, was the start of something natural and complete and deeply, deeply awesome.


June 29, 2012

There was a night a few years back when we looked at each other from across the ocean that stretched between one couch cushion and the next and I said the thought that was worming its way into my brain: "This is why people get divorced." It was a scary thing to say but an even scarier way to feel.

There was nothing majorly cataclismic going on. But we were talking in circles. We didn't feel better at the end of our fraught conversations. We didn't feel close.  He didn't look me in the eyes. I pulled my knees in tight to my chest and did a lot of crying.

We suddenly realized that people got divorced who loved each other. People got divorced who had great weddings. People got divorced who had children they loved more than their own breath.

We are in a much better place now but that time changed us. We are no longer those children who got married on that too hot day ten years ago. We know now that marriage is not some natural extension of loving and enjoying each other, some coasting ride that requires only that you pick a good partner to begin with. It is a daily choice, to turn toward one another instead of away. To not be too afraid to be honest, too exhausted to be kind or too proud to be wrong.

Ten years ago, I underestimated the challenge of staying together. I didn't understand the way time would change us, change me. I didn't know who we'd become, who we'd create. I didn't realize how marriage is built and rebuilt every single day, every single conversation.

We wonder, is it possible to grow old together with mutual respect and admiration? Can we still challenge each other, tell the loving but hard truths, push each other even as we both get more and more stuck in our own neurotic ways?

That's our goal. Passion, admiration, respect, playful companionship.

Dare to dream.

All the details of my life overwhelm me, all the things I need to remember, all the balls we juggle suspended in mid air. I forget sometimes, at the end of the day, to really look to him. He's right there. But still, sometimes, I miss him.

Choosing the right person may not be the be all and end of all a good marriage but it sure is a good start. I chose someone who balances me out. I chose so very well.

Mostly I think, What a great marriage. And I'm not ignoring the hard times, the tears, the moments of loneliness and frustration. I am including them, proudly.

What a great marriage.


Hillary said...

First of all, I love your dress. It was gorgeous and so were you.

Secondly, this all is so, so true. Marriage is the hardest thing, I think. It can be wonderful, but it is work, very hard work sometimes.

Happy anniversary!

Marianne said...

Happy Anniversary!

And I think this post should be required reading :-)

Shannon said...

Crying, crying crying!!! I sooo get it. Still struggling along. Congratulations on figuring it out and knowing what you need to do - that in itself is a major accomplishment. Carrying it out is hard work, but you sure do seem to have a solid foundation to keep building, and of course, renovating as needed :-) Beautiful photos, thanks so much for sharing that special day with all of us. Happy anniversary and wishing you many many years of growing together.

Anonymous said...

After finding your blog, I devoured it and while I understand you cannot fill every free hour of every day for me with blog posts, I am grateful and thrilled when you do have time to post...exactly because of beautiful posts like this one.

You were a beautiful and exuberant bride. And hearing about how you accept and handle the challenges of partnership after the honeymoon shine has rubbed off a bit is inspiring. I, too, remember that new relationship energy, that certainty that love+lust+intent was enough, but after my own 10+ years in a partnership, I have to remind myself regularly that the work we do is toward such a good goal -- fights, bumps, my own stubborness, etc. aside. Thank you, as always, for sharing.

grammalouie said...

Oh gulp, choke, weepy eyes.

Yes, you are spot on.

Love you lots! m

Amy said...

Oh, how I love this. It rained on my wedding day in April, torrential, destructive rains.

It was a great day.

We recently had the same realizations as you did, although we danced around it for much longer. Hoping we emerge as you have. You are a wonderful example to bear in mind.

And can I say? How beautiful are you?

Happy anniversary.


KG said...

Oh, weeping. What a beautiful post! Seven months into having kids I'm getting glimmers of the important truths you describe here. Thank you as always for your sharing, grace and wisdom.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Anonymous- Thanks for making my day with your sweet comment!

Amy and Shannon- Fist bump to you, ladies. The work of marriage can be lonely and difficult. Hopefully we all find enough joy to make it - at the end of the day - a beautiful thing.

twisterfish said...

What a beautiful post ... and a beautiful bride you were! Love your dad giving the finger and the sweat patrol -- you made me feel like I was right there. And thank you for being honest and truthful and open about marriage. And congratulations on those ten years! That is a huge accomplishment indeed.

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