Monday, July 27, 2009

Let me count the ways

Several weeks ago, I said to Jacob, "I know why I am comfortable with getting married so quickly but I don't know why you're comfortable with it."

He said, "The way I see it is that two years ago, we weren't right for each other. We were in different places and were looking for different things. But we're right for each other now. Getting married just guarantees that we'll make the decisions that keep us right for each other."


That man.

A couple of weeks ago, Jacob and I celebrated the 1-year anniversary of meeting at Tabitha's birthday party. In 6 weeks, we'll be married.

For a lot of people, this timeline is unthinkable. But for us, there is no reason to wait for a wedding. We had made up our minds to spend the rest of our lives with each other and would rather that happened sooner rather than later.

I know there are a lot of couples that are comfortable and even need to date for 2, 3, 4, 5 or more years before getting married. Of course, I am a huge advocate for everyone doing what is best for their own relationship And personally, I was unwilling to alter again the patterns and decisions of my life to accommodate someone else if there were not long-term benefits. I had reveled in enjoy-the-now relationships for about five years after the divorce and they were good and necessary. However, starting about a year and a half ago, I was really starting to go somewhere with my life. I was putting down roots and growing toward goals. I'd become committed to certain paths like emergent Christianity and training for a certain type of career. Maybe it was turning 30 or maybe it was realizing how much I was spending on grad school that made me think, "I can no longer just pick up and start over anymore without wasting some of the effort spent in my younger years."

So, my Mr. Right Now relationships with men became liabilities for the things I was trying to accomplish. Time spent with them needed to be more than just fun or an escape or an emotional salve. Time spent with a man needed to be as much of an investment as the time I was spending on my homework or the time I was spending building community at church.

But this pace has its downsides. When you melt down a precious metal, generally an artist tries to clean the pieces before exposing them to heat as much as possible to cut down on potential flaws in the finished work. If weddings are crucibles that burn off the dross of a relationship and leave only the pure gold, the chunks of scrap that Jacob and I threw into the pot had barely been touched by steel wool or water. So the fire needs to be a little bit hotter.

Planning our wedding has been a hot process. Three times we've had Serious Conversations about whether or not an interfaith life is what we really want, knowing full well that we would not be able to get married if the answer was no. Some family and friends have done double-takes and needed to be coaxed into a state of mind that is comfortable with the idea of our marriage. A wedding for 225 people that will balance both of our desires for an event and that will resolve even our individual internal conflicting desires for an event takes spiritual energy, and practical get-shit-done energy.

And my soul is tired. I'm tired of fighting to advocate for what I need. I'm tired of feeling threatened. I'm tired of making the right choices, even when they are hard. I'm tired of being the bigger person and thinking of other people's needs. I'm tired of buying things. I'm tired of planning. My soul feels squished like Giles Corey and can only focus on breathing underneath all of the weight.

I realized this about my soul when I went on what should have been an adventure out to the Quad Cities with my friend to do her a favor and to volunteer for an event she was trying to raise money at. A) The Quad Cities fascinate. I never fail to be delighted by the various sub-cultures that I encounter there. One of my best friends lives there and it has never disappointed. B) The event was a giant motivational speaker event with speakers like Robert Schuller and Rudy Giuliani. At one point there was a rap by an Italian woman with a book to promote that warned that you would never be fulfilled by TV but must, instead, look to Jesus to be satisfied.

The combination of A and B should result in at least one, if not two or three, blog posts describing, analysing and applying lessons learned from these adventures. What great stories! I would have my notebook out to make sure I remembered the outrageous details so that you, the gentle reader, could see them in your head as you read. I love adventures and I love sharing them on my blog.

But, you and I both get bupkus from that trip. And thus, I know my soul is tired.

This past weekend, Jacob and I went up to New York to visit his parents. We wanted to make sure that they feel included in our plans and to smooth out some of the bumps that we've encountered with them. But my soul is tired. The first day and a half were really hard for me. I was staying in someone else's house, trying to be a respectful guest, but struggling with whether to say the emotional things that I wanted to say so they would know how much they've hurt my feelings and maybe set a precedent for how I am willing to be treated in the future or whether I should just pretend like everything is OK and establish a foundation of good-will and affection that will ease future conversations about boundaries. This will be one of the last chances we can afford to spend with them at a time that is not a holiday with the whole family present. If not now, when? Right? But my soul was so tired. Jacob was so good and supportive and we brainstormed together what our best tactics should be. But even when we resolved to say something, I literally said the words in my head, "I am not brave enough to blow everything up while everything is so peaceful." Even if blowing shit up was the right thing to do. And I have no idea if it would have been the right thing. Maybe it was and I'll reap the consequences late. I don't know. I just know that I didn't confront them at all about the things that they have waited to say until they can say it on the phone. I just couldn't generate the energy to facilitate a healthy conversation that would involve forgiving them for their defensiveness ahead of time so that we could actually be productive in fixing our relationship. And Jacob couldn't do it alone. That's not how a partnership works.

So, we made it through the weekend. We had a legitimately good time. We laughed and we talked about some details of the wedding as a group. Jacob talked a little bit about his views on Judaism. We went through old photos and we chose which of Grandpa Manny's quilts we wanted. (We're going to use one for our chuppah.) We ate yummy dinner at Moosewood in Ithaca. It was a lovely time. I perked up a little toward the end of the second day when we went shopping at some thrift stores. Shopping is a little like drugs to me. I stay away from it most of the time because I know it is a slippery slope. But, like a little Valium every once in awhile, it helped the time pass by with a little less angst. (For those of you that don't know me, that was a joke. Kind of. Too much addiction in my family makes that an impossible route for me. However, don't think I don't wish I were the kind of person who could just dabble in a better life through chemistry.) :-)

I don't know if we should have cleared the air in a blow out. Neither does Jacob. One or the other of us changes our minds about that every 8 hours or so. But he and I are tight with each other and I am content with that. I want to marry him and he wants to marry me. That is a blessing that I can count a bazillion different Elizabeth Barrett Browning ways.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been meaning to respond to this for a few days and haven't had the time to put together anything coherent, so let me just say: 1) I feel you (being the peacemaker when others are less interested in making amends), and 2) it is tiring, and that's not fair. I wish you guys the best in sorting this crap out.