Whence came the phrase, "make an honest man of him?" How does the marriage ceremony change the way two familiar people act together? And why, for this skeptic, do these large stepping stones across the River of Life only reveal their impact upon the immediate moment of their incarnation?
Life is fractal; to dig deeper into oneself is to unfold the wrinkles, only to find more wrinkles; then they fold back over you. When you think you've found the ultimate sinuous seam, and tuck your fingers into its fold expecting to finally flatten out that pesky fault-line, you find another imperfection. Your only recourse is to call it beauty, and press on.
My own process began over a year ago, when I was forced to confront the goblin spinsters of my past. I sure didn't want to; similar to the personification of addiction as a reactionary parasite that manipulates its host to its own will, my own memory had built up a wall around its core, preventing me from accessing and investigating its roots, hindering personal progress, and, key at the time, putting my most valued relationship at risk. I was wrinklier than I had thought.
We talked and talked. We sought mediation, an empathetic and wise third party. I was, at least, willing. And smack in the middle of it all, when she asked, I said, famously, "yep."
Talk about throwing myself in the deep end.
If you've known me a while, you know of my propensity to drift and catch what current takes me where. That's how I landed in media, in farming, in beer, writing, editing, and, now, marriage. But the latter was the hardest and the best, and I put a paddle in the river to get there.
We canoed the Willamette River from Eugene to Corvallis during the summer, a weekend we had planned for years with friends and finally enacted. The perennial chauffeur, I took up the rear of our dry-bag laden vessel, and learned to steer on the fly. If you let it, the river will put you on the rocks, drag you through strainers and snags, and dash you to pieces on the rip-rap. It will spin you around in its innocuous eddies and scrape your butt in its shallow riffles if you are not always peering ahead and seriously manning (or womanning) the till. It forces you to choose a line long before you reach the event horizon of rapids, and then proves you wrong five times before it spits you out, dazed but grinning, the other side.
There isn't a more fitting metaphor to describe the last year.
Being conscious of one's decisions is to become part of the fractal, and at the same time to observe it from a safe distance. At one of the most beautiful places, at the south end of the beach, there is a tall gray rock mostly coated in deep earthy shades. That is what you see from a distance. Step closer and refocus; the shape remains the same, but the patches of color become more defined. Step closer; the rock looms taller and you see texture on the patches of color. Step closer; the textures take form: tree, grass, lichen, yarrow, barnacle, mussel, anemone. Walk to it and peer in; the rock has disappeared, and you are among layers of life that may extend deep below this vertical surface. You will never see that rock the same way again.
So it came to pass: we were wed. Over a weekend on the Oregon coast with the majority of our dearest friends and family, we stood in the sand and became a new "we." That night we partied with an expanded lustiness, felt the woven threads of our friendships tighten, and drank in the fire, the music, the stars, the beer and whiskey.
The change began when we stepped onto the bus, the drunken ship that brought most of our clan to the beach, and I felt the transformation in stages of introverted nervousness, glassy-eyed ecstasy, long sighs, and gum-drying smiles. Perhaps that's how a fetus feels as it prepares to exit the womb. The unifying moment was punctuation at the end of a beautiful sentence; it carried us from this to that with grace and humor.
Does everything sparkle now? Do you zap each other with lasers when your eyes meet? Do your smooches set off smoke alarms? Maybe.
The real proof, outside of legal matters, lies in freedom, security, and desire. Freedom, because a loose end is secure; my sail no longer flaps in the wind and I can move with ease. Security, because, in a setting free of ego and our hearts exposed to those we love, we affirmed our desire to be together. Yes, we tied the knot (and stomped the glass). Desire, because it is vulnerable, and having the other two allows its full expression.
The chores, commutes, and meal preparations of daily life have resumed; the magical weekend couldn't last forever, though we've been trailing glitter for a couple weeks. We saw our support network unite with us, and the love and gratitude we have for our community will never fade.
--Still Lost in America
2 years ago