One summer evening out of the wild blue, while I was on the down-slope of a tumultuous five-year fling, I met a girl named Monica.
We were in a Utah bar of all freaking places, thousands of miles from my home, and once I laid eyes on her that was pretty much it. Something clicked, something good and real. We got married six weeks later, not because we knew that this was love at first sight or anything like that, (I don’t think), but more because it blindsided us both and it felt like if we didn’t get married quickly, we’d probably never get married at all.
Every love affair is its own galaxy and only two people are ever allowed to soar across that vast, specific universe. Try and remember that the next time you start second-guessing someone else’s relationship. Back then, at the time, there was this wild jabbing in my gut that was telling me we’d lose each other across our own galaxy if we didn’t make it official somehow. That scared me bad.
I was in love with her, that much I knew beyond a doubt. And as it ought to be: that was enough for me. Suddenly, for the first time in 32 years of living, marriage made all the sense in the world.
Now to be honest, I don’t know if Monica felt that way exactly. Sometimes I think she maybe married me to get the hell out of Salt Lake City. I can’t say I’d blame her for that, though. Besides, I take what I can get.
Whatever the case, we tied the knot at a judge’s house on a gorgeous autumn afternoon in 2004. Now it’s pretty much all over as far as I can tell. You want to know something though? Staring down the barrel of divorce, I’m still, even now, a rampant believer that marriage is quite possibly the coolest, most powerful thing that can happen to a human being outside of having a child; the kicker here being the fact that once upon a time, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the whole institute of marriage. It meant nothing to me at all. Marriage was some kind of earthquake rubble for other people to dig their own asses out of — and my attitude had always been count me out.
So marriage changed my mind about marriage and failed marriage hasn’t swung me back. Hey y’all! Look at me, I’m down here sitting here spinning around the scratched-up B-side of a once beautiful record! I’m the tiny guy barreling towards divorce after almost a decade married to one woman. And I’m also the reasonably bright guy who finds himself disheartened by his own peers.
Well, in case you’ve been taking a vacation from reality, an ever-increasing amount of intellectual people, people whose brains and opinions I often trust intrinsically, seem to be dissing the entire concept of marriage as a whole.
How the hell did that happen?
Why is the early 21st century starting to seem like the era when marriage is handled a lot like we handle our frozen laptops?
Nowadays, people are talking openly about how outdated the whole idea of loving just one person for the rest of your life actually is.
“It’s unrealistic,” they’ll tell you. “Two people can’t be happy together forever. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
I’ve listened to their voices a lot lately. You tend to pay attention to conscious streams like that when you’re rafting down the middle of them. And it almost seems to me like they could all be my saving grace here — voices of modern reason that would lend a real chorus of credence to my own song if I was the guy getting divorced and singing songs about how much marriage really does suck. That hasn’t happened for me though. Isn’t that sort of strange? It would make a lot of sense and probably be a whole hell of a lot easier if I could sign on to this progressive movement that questions getting married at every single turn.
“We don’t need a piece of paper to prove we love each other … that’s archaic.”
The thing is, in so many ways, I agree with a lot of the argument people questioning marriage are proposing. You really don’t need a document to prove love. Of course you freaking don’t! And yeah, in a world where “personal happiness” has become almost like this bullet-proof untouchable phrase, like “I support the troops” or something, a phrase which you damn well better agree with in every possible capacity lest you be taken for a straight-up infidel. It also seems to me that there is a lot to be said for trying to be happy while you live out your days on this planet.
So despite the solid argument for a more modern approach to how married life has failed us all, I still find myself reading all of these things about how marriage is moot, about how people can’t just be happy with one partner forever, and about how they shouldn’t even be expected to, and I want to do some whirling ninja throat kicks on all the well-meaning folks dropping all of this post-modern wisdom on the foolish masses.
See, I still think marriage kicks ass.
I just do.
It’s simple, really. I like being in love. I really do. And I was truly in love with Monica, even when we were at our worst, which was fairly often, hollering mean crap at each other because we were stressed out about our finances or our kids or just because I’m a 42-year-old feral Pennsylvania hog who doesn’t know how to eat a bowl of popcorn on the couch without spilling half of it all over the floor. Being truly in love with the girl that I married made me feel electrified and immortal way more than it ever made me feel like sawing my own jugular open with a sugar spoon.
Now don’t get me wrong, I DID feel like hacking away at my own veins at times when I was so frustrated and upset because I found my wife to be just as hopelessly idiotic as she found me. However, I always think I understood that we could get past the petty stupidity that ultimately drowned us both. I still think that too. I never did a damn thing about it, mind you, but I thought it. And because I’ve known that all along, I never actually associated any of our problems or our fleeting happiness with the fine art of marriage itself.
Why would I have done that?
The truth is, I feel like there are more and better Super-Powers to be squeezed out of all the work it takes to stay and love one person until you die than there are to be freshly juiced from multiple marriages or even just a bunch of relationships where we enjoy someone’s company until they piss us off/spend too much money/can’t perform as well in the bedroom/or we spot someone else more interesting at the office or on the internet and we throw in the towel and move right on down the line.
I guess to me, my overall idea of marriage is a natural extension of my hopes and my dreams for the unwritten story of my life: the little tale I hope to leave behind someday, somehow. Perhaps I’m selfish or foolish, but I can’t help myself. Call me a “romantic” as if it means I’m unrealistic, as if it means the same thing as “douchebag,” I’m down with that. But someday before too long I’m going to die, same as you — probably in some hospital bed, some cancer or another all twisted up through my panting bones and organs. And I can’t help but wonder how nice it might have been to be holding that lone hand of the only woman I ever loved enough to spend my entire life with. What a sendoff that would have been, to feel the same old warm familiar fingers of that one partner in love and crime gently squeezing my hand as I fade to black, man.
The way things are going though, you can forget all that.
The way things are going, we’re all going to have like nine or ten different hands all trying to squeeze us over to the Pearly Gates, each of us slipping over into Ghosthood still just as confused as ever about what exactly happened to real true love.
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