Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forgotten Day

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.


Kiki said...

Yay..powerful and wonderful..I loved the last line the best!! Cheers!!

Hope you have a lovely day! I loook forward to catching up on your posts and wonderful writing with a tea! And my next are you enjoying this wonderful new blog you created?

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

I just love the though of you and your sisters around the camp fire, visiting and talking this way. The honeymooners add a whole other dimension!

I read this with amazement. I had a similar conversation with my sisters over dinner one night. They both admitted to going through with getting married to someone they didn't want to because "it was easier to go through with it than to back out" I realized how much they needed my parents approval, how they would - and did - sacrifice the idea of a happy marriage in order to keep my parents happy.

The things we do when we are young. Thankfully, there is time and wisdom to help us gain perspective!

Thank you for this thoughtful post and congratulations on not remembering!

willow said...

So happy to hear you've healed and moved on. Hey, Cedar Point was THE place to go back in my day. I'm not going to say exactly how far back that is!

She Writes said...

you go, girl. And go. And go. Freedom tastes Gooooood!

Tara R. said...

I think this was true for my mother as well. She never went to college, marrying not long out of high school. She and my dad had only known each a few months before they wed. It was a mistake from the beginning. Once my parents divorced, she bloomed and became a happy, independent woman.

I learned from them what NOT to do in a marriage. Today my husband and I are the only couple on my side of the family with our original spouse.

Good luck in whatever you do in life.

Caroline said...

Woooooooooooow. I could not imagine that feeling....looking at that clock "thinking." But that is behind you now. And like you said, you have 2 wonderful children and a grand child. And a future that is wide open...and that is good.

OK...I'll be honest...totally cracking up about the young couple. I went on a camping trip and heard that as well, oh lord...I think folks forget that tent walls a kinda thin ;)

Teresa O said...

Kiki...thank you for your kind words. As to your question, I'm lovin' this revamped blog. I hope to get another fiction up soon.'s remarkable how many women and perhaps men too, follow through when doubts abound. I am so against people getting married before they've experienced a bit of adult life. How can anyone know what they truly want when they have yet to step foot outside the protective bubble of childhood? One of these days I'm going to write about the year 2000. It was more than just a new millenium for me.

Hi Willow...Cedar Point continues to be a popular amusement park and I'm surprised to find out that people from places like New Jersey and Minnesota journey the many miles just to ride roller coasters!! Thanks for stopping by.

Amy...freedom does taste soooo good. I literally danced about the little house I rented for myself and my son after the divorce.

Tara...I did go to college, twice, but that's another story. Thank you for your well wishes.

Caroline...the newly weds kept me awake most of the night and most of that time I was laughing in my pillow trying so hard not to be heard. At one point, all three of us were laughing so hard that I'm sure the couple heard us.

I've been reading your stories on your writing site, but well...I'm not always one to comment, but I'm intrigued and will be checking in from time to time.

Thanks to all of you for reading about my forgotten day. I never could have imagined that the day would come when I'd actually forget my anniversary. It really is freeing.

Christina said...

this is so wonderfully expressed.
thank you so very much, for sharing.

two wonderful children. the best part, right. : )

Teresa O said...

Two children and one grandson are always the best part! Thank you for stopping by, Christina.

PattiKen said...

You have written my story, right down to my father's age when I was born. I did exactly as you did, and it ended the same way, except I had three kids. Sadly I thought my father could actually stop me from going to college. I knew he couldn't stop me from getting married. So I did.