You don’t have to have gotten married at the New Year to be a Brainiac, but apparently it helps. Bob and I got married on January 2. (We wanted to get married on January 1, but the mayor was busy. Our suspicion was that it had to do with sports on TV.) I had ideas about marriage being a contract rooted in capitalist obsessions with property and was deeply ambivalent about the whole thing. On the other hand, I had (and have) a sincere appreciation for the importance of ritual in the human psyche and you don’t have many more fraught opportunities for ritual than a wedding. Bob just asked me to wear something other than blue jeans. He said he was wearing a suit. So I broke down and bought a cream colored suit which I subsequently wore to work.
It was, in fact, a contract rooted in capitalist obsessions with property.
But it was also a ritual of extreme importance. When the mayor spoke the vows, I had the sense of something deeply irrevocable happening. Not that I didn’t know of lots of people who got divorced. Not that I wasn’t aware of the utter fragility of those vows. But they were vows, and somehow that meant that this moment would leave a mark, would be scored on us in someway. Tribal scars of the psyche. It was a test of our optimism, I guess. I am not, by nature, an optimistic person. It was like playing a high stakes table and putting money down. Win or lose, you’re putting it on the table.
Tonight we went out with the boys to celebrate. It’s our fifteenth. Which is crystal. (Not as fun perhaps as the 3rd Anniversary, which is leather. But better than the 7th, which is wool. Or, if you’re modern, desk sets. Who is in charge of that, anyway?) There are things no one can tell you about marriage. When it works, mysterious partnership, there is the utter pleasure of being an expert at this one thing, being with each other. Knowing the rhythms of another as you know yourself. The sound of breathing, the physical cadence of a heartbeat. I know Bob across the room without my glasses. I know the way his shirts fit across his shoulders, and what it is like to touch the back of his shirt with my fingertips.
I’ve seen how awful a bad marriage is. There is nothing more lonely than being alone in a marriage, I think. But we are made for this pairing, however imperfectly we do it. However much biology says we are also made to push at it’s boundaries. It is something that suits me better and better with age. And I am grateful.