WEDnesday: Why Marry?

Back from a brief hiatus (traveling, enjoying the downtime between the end of my job and the start of my classes) and sharing something I’ve had on my mind for a while. The question of why marry? Why not just be perpetual boyfriend/girlfriend? This has been on my mind from my interactions with two mindsets: the marriage-is-pointless camp and the OMG-must-get-married camp.

I know a lot of people who don’t believe in marriage. Heck with a national divorce rate around 50% it does seem a bit risky. The theme I’ve noticed in these exchanges is why bother, it’s so much easier to split when you’re not legally entangled. Breakups are easier than divorce. Marriage is just a title, you can be perfectly committed without it.

On the other hand are those desperate to get married, regardless of the partner. Friends that think 30 is the deadline for marriage. People that have comfortable but perhaps not spectacular relationships. You marry in your 20s because that’s simply how it’s done (totally not true BTW).

Deciding to marry is an enormous and very personal decision. Each couple has their own reasons for pursuing or not pursuing legal recognition of their relationship (local government permitting). Our decision was our own, but the basic reasoning was this: we love each other an awful lot. Marrying is our way of declaring that this person is so close to my heart that I want to recognize them legally, socially, and publicly as the most important person in my life. To create a bond equivalent to those created by the accident of birth: family. In making this leap we are recognizing that we will fight for this relationship because yes, divorce is harder than a breakup. And that’s why we marry.

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After You’re Gone

After you’re gone no one talks about how nice your car was.

After you’re gone no one fawns over your house or your furniture.

After you’re gone no one discusses how much money you made.

They talk about who you were. What you did. How you touched people’s lives. What made you a great person. How you lived and how you loved.

Trist and I had the misfortune of burying one of his close friends last week, hence the lack of posts. It’s heartbreaking how a 22 year old could be ripped away so suddenly. But what was remarkable was how many people he had touched. How many young men and women came out to shovel dirt into his grave. The impression he made on the community, the shining aspects of his personality were remembered and celebrated. That is what we should live for. To devote our energy to being someone who is remembered for the love surrounding us.

WEDnesday: How do I love thee?

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The first question my dad asked me after we announced our engagement was, “Are you 100% sure about this? As long as you’re sure I’m fine with it.” I answered, “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

I’ve been in and around enough relationships to know that it’s not always the case, the kind of confidence I have in us. Sometimes we are caught up in the initial infatuation only to find that the person you are with annoys the shit out of you six months later. Sometimes we think we can shape the other person into exactly what we want. Sometimes we think we have a good relationship while simultaneously hiding part of our being from our partner because they wouldn’t approve. Sometimes we just don’t want to be alone. Sometimes we’ve been together so long it seems easier just to stick it out and hope for the best.

I love my sweetheart for all of the usual reasons: funny, cute, makes me laugh, shared interests. But the things that stand out for me aren’t even really about him. It’s about me. It’s how I’ve grown being with him. It’s how I’m my best from being with him. We met when I had just graduated from college. The whirlwind of working 3 jobs and doing research and taking classes left me with no time to even think. I could barely keep my head above water. Graduation brought me relief. Freedom. Time to actually explore the woman was becoming and decide how I was going to live my life. I was a little confused. Ideals were forming in my head but they were blurry and I couldn’t quite make them out.

Then along came this guy, this guru with a confidence in himself and a totally empowering worldview. We spent so many late nights discussing life, the universe, and everything. Culture, consumption, the lack of spiritual nourishment in our society, the busy trap. His words were the lens that brought those blurry ideals into focus. He encouraged me to live how I wanted to, with intangible experiences at the forefront and affection for people. The whole world opened up to me. I could see everything for what it was, without the illusions and facades we place on ourselves and our surroundings. We don’t worry much (only about our loved ones) and we play a lot. He was the sunshine that helped me grow and I have never been more at peace. The lessons he taught me and those we have learned together are what makes me proud of the person I am. And that makes me sure.

We Almost Never Met

It was about 9pm on a Friday night. Donald, a good friend from high school, was in town from his new job in Hawaii. I could barely make out his invitation over the noise of the pounding music and shouted drink orders at the bar when he called. I was in my pajamas, my hair still wet from the shower, did I really want to drive down to the beach for a drink in a noisy bar? Reluctantly, I pulled out a pair of cutoff shorts and a blank tank top, threw on my Rainbow sandals and haphazardly ran the blow dryer over my hair. “I should go out,” I thought to myself. After all, I was 21, it was Friday, and Donald had come all the way from Hawaii.

Pacific Beach on a Friday night is a zoo. Street parking was non-existent, so I pulled into a lot and paid my $3 for two hours of parking. When I arrived at the designated bar there was a line out the door. It was my biggest pet peeve about clubs or bars, or clubby bars. I hated lines. Like seriously? What’s so great about this place that I have to wait in line just to get in? I could walk right into the little dive across the street (and probably get cheaper drinks). Donald was already inside with his friends, so I called and explained that there was no way in HELL I was standing in line. He came out and tried to sneak me in, to no avail. We made a detour to the uh… classy little tavern on the corner for some vodka tonics. I could already tell Donald was sufficiently wasted.

After a drink or two we returned to the original rendezvous point. The line was gone so I agreed to go in. $5 cover. Fuuuuck that. I feel the same way about covers as I do about lines. Drunk Donald graciously paid my cover so I could join the group. A few guys he knew from high school, one I had met before. Some blond girls.

A few more drinks in and Donald became obnoxious. His inhibitions lowered, he attempted to make a pass at me. I deflected, explaining that I was trying to salvage the tattered remains of my college relationship. He persisted. I defended. He announced to the bar, “She has a boyfriend everyone!” The color rose in my cheeks. I needed some space. I sat next to this blond guy, one of Donald’s high school lacrosse teammates. He was quiet, mostly alone and refreshingly not drunk. I spilled everything. Everything I hated about clubs and bars, how my relationship was crashing and burning, how in my tipsy haze he kind of looked like Kevin Bacon (I had no idea what I was thinking), how freaking annoying Drunk Donald was. Then Drunk Donald got kicked out and they had to leave.

The next morning I had a Facebook message. The sender thought I was cute and sweet, wished me the best of luck in my relationship, but left a phone number just in case I wanted to give him a call in the future. It was from a name I recalled but couldn’t put a face to. Tristan. The lacrosse kid from the bar.

Friday Rant: Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties

Disclaimer: This entry uses strong language. Proceed at your discretion. I promise it’s worth it 😉

Okay, let me start off by saying that apparently bachelorette is apparently not a real word. Spell check flagged me for bachelorette, but not bachelor or, funny enough, spinster. So apparently spell check is sexist. Fuck you spell check, Merriam-Webster says bachelorette is totally a word.

Anyways, last summer I had the pleasure of going to Las Vegas for the first time in my life. It’s not an experience I’d care to repeat as I’m neither a fan of clubs nor gambling. When we were there, I observed that approximately 87% of the people we encountered there were groups of a dozen men or women celebrating an individual’s bachelor/bachelorette party. There is a weird pressure around these gatherings. It’s like a combination of a weekend pass to free infidelity immediately before your nuptials (which is fucking weird) and an attempt to out-party everyone else like you’re never going to have fun again.

Not to mention how obnoxious they are. Waiting to check into our hotel, we encountered a large group of woo girls parading through the lobby and shouting “wooooooooo!” every 12 seconds. It was quite literally the most ANNOYING thing I have ever experienced in my life. Not to mention the brides all acting like they’re some sort of diva, wearing an expensive white clubbing dress and a sash and a crown and thinking they’re hot shit. Look around sweetie, you’re one of 1500 brides here in Vegas this weekend. Getting married doesn’t make you special, lots of people do it. Being together after 50 years, now that’s fucking special. Come back then and throw a party celebrating your awesomeness. And on top of the affianced expects their attending friends to cough up a bunch of cash for a trip they may or may not want to go on. Because if they don’t then clearly they aren’t a good friend.

I think the bachelor(ette) party culture is really damaging to the institution of marriage in two ways. One, there is this idea that it’s totally okay to cheat on your soon-to-be spouse because “it was the bachelor party maaaaan, no big deal.” It is a big deal. Infidelity is NEVER acceptable. Besides, what a horrible way to start your marriage? Oh hey honey, I might have slept with a stripper in Vegas the week before we got married. No. Get that shit out of here. Second, the bachelor(ette) party is structured like it’s the last opportunity for the bride or groom to have fun before they’re chained down to the shackles of marriage. Way to take something beautiful and wonderful and turn it into something to be avoided and dreaded.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go drink wine at California Adventure and ride the Pirates of the Caribbean over and over and over again. Hell yeah.

The Engagement vs. The Proposal

A year ago, Tristan made it clear he was going to marry me. We had both decided that was a step we wanted to take with each other, however it was not an official proposal. Over the course of 2012, he gave me a ring, not THE ring, but a beautiful simple ring to show his commitment. Then last November, his grandmother offered her engagement ring. And we are still not engaged.

At this point I began to unravel. I questioned why, if Tristan really wanted to marry me, he hadn’t proposed. Why it felt taboo to have an open and honest discussion about my anxieties. If I brought up getting engaged, that made me either the “nagging girlfriend” or that I was ruining the surprise. I resented the patriarchal society that didn’t allow me to be a part of this decision that affected me so profoundly.

Finally I exploded. Of course I know Tristan wants to be the one to propose, and that moment belongs to him. I never wanted to take that away from him. But what about my feelings? Maybe my timeline? How can one half of a partnership get no voice in this huge decision?

That’s all it took to restore my sanity. Openness with one another, honesty. Yes, he is just as excited as I am. Yes, my thoughts on engagement count. The Proposal is still his to plan, but The Engagement is for both of us. Making that distinction, involving both parties, that is important. Engagement is a new chapter of a relationship, not just a placeholder for marriage, and it’s a leap that should be taken together.