For the first time in my adult life I forgot the anniversary of my marriage. Even after the divorce I always remembered the day until this year. Remembering over a week after the fact must say something about where I am emotionally. In other words, I'm over it, yet...I still feel that twinge of ache when I recall the day I married and the many years that followed.
We married way too young. The only thing experienced was being a child and a teen before we hit the pot-hole road of adult pursuits. So young, so naïve, but with doubts I followed this road long before I was emotionally ready and mature enough to know this was what I wanted.
A week or so ago, my two sisters and I sat in folding chairs around a campfire talking about everything from childhood pranks to adult misfortunes. We shared where we’ve been and where we hope to go. We giggled like 13 year old girls at a slumber party when the newly-wed couple in the yurt next to our cabin began telling the world in not so soft sighs and louder groans that the marriage was consummated. The couple continued making love in the early hours of what would have been my wedding anniversary had I stayed married. Between the urgent moans and the baritone gasping, the thought of my own wedding night never entered my weary mind.
The next morning, after two or three cups of coffee, fresh eggs scrambled and grilled smoky links, sister chatter began again. We rehashed the night’s events like three crones cackling over a boiling cauldron. We waved with knowing smiles plastered on our faces as the young couple headed to their car bound for Cedar Point. Then the conversation turned to our own marital decisions.
I said to my sisters, "I did exactly what was expected of me."
One sister arched an eyebrow giving me her quizzical look, "What do you mean?"
I...we...were raised to be wives and mothers. My father was older when he married my mother; he was well into his 40s when I was born and 70 when my youngest brother graduated from high school. He touted an old-fashioned view of life, especially when it came to how children should be raised. Chores and household tasks were gender based. Girls did dishes, cleaned and learned to cook. The boys did the outside work; mowing the lawn, cleaning off snow from sidewalks, and taking out the garbage. As daughters of the family, we were not encouraged to go to college. An education was not important, after all, we’d only grow up, marry and have children. What need did we have for a degree? The only thing we needed was a hard-working, good man to take care of us and in return, we'd take care of him. I view this attitude as perpetuating the fairy tale for girls with a people-pleasing syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful childhood full of love, learning, and fun. We were a big family that laughed more than we wept, but I had dreams beyond the scope of my parents’ expectations.
My sister agreed with me after I shared my thoughts that we each took the path laid out before us by our parents, albeit in different ways. My middle sister and I both married shortly after high school. My oldest sister was the renegade. She fought my father with her very soul on the line. We sat at a round table for meals, each of us in our specific chairs. The evening meal became the battleground and I still remember how angry my father became when B wanted to discuss her aspirations of going to college. Dad’s ire climbed like the temperature on an August day in Ohio, his face a thundercloud of I-am-always-right-how-dare- you-question-me indignation. In the end, B won. She went to college, received her degree, taught music, and eventually walked away from teaching for 18 years to raise a family. So all three of us became wives and stay-at-home moms during a time when our peers were garnering degrees, paychecks, and rocking the workforce from every avenue.
Looking back now, I realize that getting married so young was a bad idea, but I have two children, uniquely wonderful and one grandson that would not be here had I chosen the opposite fork in the road. I stood, the fresh-faced bride with my hand tucked securely in my father’s arm, looking up at the clock. It read 2:25 pm and I thought, There’s still time, there’s still time to end this. I have no idea what would have happened had I run out the door as fast as my white, strappy wedgies could carry me. The only thing I do know is that the image of the clock haunted me for the next 20 years.
I’ve been divorced ten years now and this is the first year that the date of my wedding lay forgotten among the bric-a-brac of living a life and it’s damned ok with me.
1 year ago