“Perhaps one girl who was moving in a fine line finds one boy in back that she can always stand behind…“ – It Must Be Love, Rickie Lee Jones
Fifteen years ago today, Dada and I got married. It was HOT that day, even by California standards. TGG was dizzy from the heat, and I thought he was going to faint before he valiantly took a deep breath and walked me halfway down the aisle. Then he went and got his Dada, and brought him to me. And we walked the rest of the way together. It was a sweet wedding. My ring wouldn’t fit, and I had to push it in place. J decided to run all over the place, and prompted my sister into dumping him at my feet because he wasn’t letting her “mingle.” The kids ate mac and cheese and hot dogs; I don’t remember what we ate. The cake was good…and beautiful without being wedding cake-like in appearance.
Marriage, though, isn’t about the wedding. If you judged our marriage based solely on our wedding you’d see a slapdash, thrown-together event peppered with home-made souvenirs, a dress that wasn’t white and wasn’t expensive, kids running around having more fun than kids should have at a wedding, people who didn’t even know we were madly in love attending a wedding that they didn’t know was going to happen. Makes for an interesting picture. One of those “I give it six months” deals…
Behind the workings of throwing a wedding together, a family had already taken root and started to grow. The man who had nieces and nephews he hadn’t carried until they were old enough to not break, and whose diapers he had never changed was suddenly a father of two, changing diapers for a nearly-five year-old J. On that hot Saturday afternoon, our dynamics were already incomprehensible to many. Whatever doubts existed in other people’s minds at that moment should be completely moot by now…
You know those conversations that happen when the room is still dark, the alarm hasn’t gone off and you’re wide awake but not yet ready to start the day outside the confines of bed? We had one of those this morning. It started when I sat bolt-upright in bed at 4:48 and said “happy anniversary” before kissing my husband and dashing off to the bathroom because I keep getting these e-mails saying your odds of having a heart attack are reduced by drinking lots of water before going to bed.
We laugh a lot. You’d think we don’t because we’re living with a severely autistic individual, but we do laugh a lot. We laughed at our aches and pains; we laughed at what we see in each other; we laughed at the fact that people don’t see those things and this makes them weird in our eyes; we laughed at why people buy houses in TV shows after specifying that they need granite countertops and they like to entertain; we pondered what “we like to entertain” means, and then we laughed at the couple who gets married and his idea of entertaining is watching football while she likes to hang out with the women drinking wine in the kitchen. We also wondered if there are those girls out there who suddenly realize that the idea of entertaining their husbands harbor involves playing D&D.
Dada and I talk like the Gilmore Girls. This is not an exaggeration. We skip from one thing to another using a variety of random references that only WE get, and which -when explained to others- elicit a shake of the head and a “huh????” This morning’s riff involved how Dada resembles the kid who, when visiting grandma, desperately wants to play one-on-one with the taciturn, cantankerous old cat who wants attention while still scoffing at it. That would be me…I’d be the cat that gets wrangled into tea parties and playing pirates even when I think I’d rather take a nap on a sunny spot on the couch. And it’s when the cat is napping that the kid wants to play, and it’s when the kid wants to play that the cat pretends like it’s offended and annoyed.
We then wondered out loud if our pirate personas would rather have an eyepatch, a peg leg or a hook for a hand, and what we would carry when taking over a ship… And that, my friends, was without one single bit of coffee yet in our systems. By the time the alarm emitted its increasingly loud beeping, we were doubled over laughing, and it was time to rush through the morning routine.
Don’t worry. Our life is plenty romantic. We do make time to not be goofy together, and we succeed beautifully. Our kids understand that we are one subset of the larger set we make up together, and that the subset has its own dialect and rituals, a private covenant that helps the general well-being to survive. We dance in the kitchen…Paul Simon’s Kodachrome will do that to us; we start every vacation jumping on the bed…literally, like kids, jumping on the bed…even if we’re going nowhere interesting; we are expressive in goofy, wonderful ways that hark back to the people we are deep inside and that have hidden under layers of adulthood; we neck on the couch; we go for walks; we are sexy with the bodies we have and the same energy and emotion of much younger people…and then the Tiger Balm comes out of the drawer and we laugh about how creaky and rusty our joints are. We argue with the same gusto of an eighteen year-old and a twenty-one year-old who haven’t yet learned to “talk” to each other, only to let the 49 and 52 year-olds take over and make sense of how absurd it all can be.
Our wedding was a rather spontaneously-unplanned event, but our marriage isn’t. If Gwyneth Paltrow used “conscious uncoupling” as a crutch for her divorce, we can only argue “stubborn in-your-face love” as our reason for being together. We are people who argue with each other saying, rather forcefully and with sincere feeling, “well…I…LOVE…you!” And then we laugh…because it’s true…we don’t just love each other; we are IN love with each other. Like Johnny says to Frankie in Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, “we were a couple before we met.” Of course, Johnny refers to the song Frankie and Johnny as much as he means that he recognizes something in Frankie that fits perfectly with him…
Rickie Lee, by the way, finishes that line I quoted at the beginning with “…and it’s still you and me ’cause that’s where we want to be.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it?