As many know, by the age of 33, I was a two-time loser at matrimony. The second divorce was particularly shattering and in the fallout, I sort of arrived at the conclusion that I wasn’t entirely sure why I’d said “I do” in the first place (or second). To be certain, love was the motivation in both cases, but I’m not much for orthodoxy. I never looked at marriage in the more historically traditional sense – a strategic alliance of families, the consolidation or gain of wealth and status.
I did not require a legal union to provide me social cover or legitimize my life choices, though I failed to understand this at the time(s). Neither failed relationship produced a child, perhaps one of the few decisions rendered with foresight. For all I can figure, and the reasoning feels as weak in the present as I always sensed somewhere that it was in the past, I married for love because well, I didn’t know any other way. It’s what you were supposed to do according to the WASPy values with which I’d been raised. The fact that these values had borne themselves out time and again to be nefarious and illusory didn’t quite register for a young woman of age 23, and 29, searching for acceptance and legitimacy.
After the ink dried on the second set of divorce papers, I vowed to hang up my wedding dress (pleather skirt and sari, in practice) for good. I’m not bitter. For those who seem to know what to do with it, the institution of marriage is a powerful and wonderful phenomenon. What could be bigger than standing in front of a crowd swearing lifelong allegiance to a mate, to feel that level of confidence in oneself and another? But for a woman with whom permanence was always more of an ideal than a reality, starting with derelict, absent parentage, I’ve found myself far more comfortable with transitory commitments. At the age of 34, I’ve reinvented myself nearly as many times as Madonna. Though a more definite idea of who I am has begun to coalesce in the last couple of years, I can’t expect a binding commitment from another when I have yet to bestow one on myself.
None of this means I have shut myself out from the opportunity to attach to someone and grow with them. That’s precisely what I am doing with JC. I have thrown out the faulty road maps and guide books. There’s no timeline or real plan. The controlling, information gluttonous aspects of my personality were initially uncomfortable without an answer to the question: “Where is this going?” For the first time, I’ve decided to participate in the journey, enjoy it rather than fast forward to the conclusion. Because I’ve trudged on with the nagging realization that things will not end happily in the past and where did that leave me other than exhausted? If this show is a tragedy, I’ll find out at the end like everyone else. The mutual love and friendship are there. That’s all I need to know today.