Monday, March 28, 2011

marry, marry, quite contrary

                                                                if I have it can I eat it too?

I spent the weekend in Honolulu at a friend’s wedding; one of my tennis buddies from college. Three of my other teammates came and we had a blast. My tiny, beautiful friend looked picture-perfect and her strapping new firefighter husband seemed delirious with happiness as he towered over her. We all cried at the usual intervals: the bride’s entrance, the vows, the father daughter dance; we drank, danced and made merry late into the night.

If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties, chances are you’re spending a lot of your time going to weddings. Though the constant barrage of invites is tough on the wallet and I feel like I might not have a free weekend in spring or summer until some time in 2015, I always have a great time at weddings. I’m always a little taken aback by how moved I am to see a close friend walking down the aisle, to see the look on her face when she says her vows, gripping tightly to the hands of her betrothed.

A couple of people have asked me if getting married is on my list of things to do before I turn thirty. Once I pick my jaw up off the floor, I tell them as politely as possible that it’s not really that kind of list. In fact, marriage would be rather contrary to the spirit of the list, which is in its essence about the freedom of being young and unattached. I read an article in this month’s Marie Clare about the ‘phenomenon’ of men who find themselves in their mid-to-late thirties and desperately longing for babies. One of the guys quoted in the article said self-effacingly that he was ‘like a 29 year old woman’. EXCUSE ME?! Some of us are a twenty-nine year old woman over here and we do NOT have an all-consuming yearning for marriage and children. Am I alone in this? Am I just naively going happily about my life when I should in fact be panicking? Do I not take this marriage business as seriously as I should?

The answers here are of course no, no and a big fat no. Do I want to get married? To me this is the wrong question. Do I want to meet someone with whom I could have a lifelong partnership, a best friend for all my days, someone I want to mix double helixes with? Absolutely. And when he comes along readers, I expect I’ll put a ring on it. To me marriage is a Big Deal. My parents have been together for over thirty years. They’ve been through really good times and really bad ones and the older I get the more I respect their bond and their devotion to one another. To pledge to be there for someone no matter what isn’t something to take lightly. By in large my friends have chosen wonderful men to marry and each time I watch one of them make this pledge, I am dazzled by the bravery of it, by the hope in it. I wish for all of them the kind of love that my parents share.

Weddings are fun, they’re celebratory but they’re also a bit solemn because of the profundity of what is being promised, the seriousness of it. As much as I respect someone making the choice to be proactive about their love life and happiness, I can’t help but wonder if people who declare a Charlotte -York -style imperative to get married without so much as a contender on the horizon take it seriously enough.  

After my grandmother died a few years ago, we were going through old pictures to use at the service. We found two pictures in which my grandparents were posed almost identically, her at his right side, looking up into his eyes, both smiling. In both pictures they looked like co-conspirators, deeply in love and in a on some kind of delicious secret that only the other knew. One picture was taken shortly after their wedding, the other at their 60th anniversary. Decades had gone by, their grandchildren were grown and yet the way they looked at one another had remained the same.

Seems like something worth waiting for, doesn’t it?

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