I did something 41 years ago that I had no business doing at the time. I got married.
I was a few weeks shy of my 22nd birthday. Marrying young was what we did back then.
In 1973, when I graduated from community college, my dad told me he’d pay my expenses to go on for a Bachelor’s Degree. Nope, I was a newly minted fiancé and I all I wanted in life was to get married.
There was no question that I loved Dave, at least based on what I thought love was. I thought it was all about playing house, picking out dishes and curtains, deep pile carpet and a couple of paintings from Sears.
I had never done a load of laundry until our honeymoon. I wept when I opened the washing machine at the motel and found all of Dave’s underwear had turned pink because I’d thrown a red shirt into the wash.
I hadn’t had to manage money beyond having to make a $26 monthly car payment (really). I wasn’t much of a cook (ask Dave how many times I made a dish he called “Morang Surprise”).
I had never lived on my own or been forced to be responsible for myself in any real way. I wasn’t ready to be a wife. I don’t think Dave was ready to be a husband. I think I pushed him into marriage much sooner than he’d have preferred.
I went from hanging onto the 11 p.m. curfew my parents set when I was in high school to being a wife. It was heady stuff and it was overwhelming.
We stumbled along, made some mistakes, recovered, made mistakes again, recovered again. Rinse-lather-repeat.
It took us a while to understand what we had done and what we were doing. We shouldered along and did the best job we knew how to do. We were tested a few times and at least once it seemed like it would be easier to walk away. But we hung in and we hung on. Even in the hardest time of all, we stood together and faced the darkest days we’d even known.
It hasn’t all be hard. It hasn’t always been a struggle. But given the chance to go back and start again, I’d marry Dave again, but not on this date in 1975. I’d go back and take the time to blossom into myself. I’d have sooner discovered my weaknesses and strengths. I’d have challenged myself, hopefully fallen a few times and learned how to pick myself up and start up again. I’d have known better what I was made of and been better prepared to handle the challenges and the decisions that were waiting for me. I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to do what everyone was else was in such a hurry to do.
These words are particularly meaningful:
From “Captain Corelli’s” Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
I’m proud of my marriage and I love my husband. If this had been easy it wouldn’t be worth it.