Friday, October 15, 2010

The anniversary post

For the past few years, on September 24th, I have written a post reflecting on our wedding in particular and on marriage in general. This year, a week before our anniversary, our new friends and neighbors got separated. And then it seemed that everywhere I turned, the story was divorce. There were researchers on NPR talking about the contagion of divorce, and the greater likelihood that you will got divorced if people in your inner circle do. There was Christina, a character on Parenthood, being confronted so unexpectedly by the statistic that 80% of marriages with an autistic child end in divorce, that it felt like a slap, certainly to her, but also, somehow to me, a parent not faced, at the moment, with such challenging circumstances. And it left me feeling painfully aware of the fragility of marriage, and the wear and tear that our relationships withstand.

Last year, when I finished up my anniversary post, I decided that this year I would write about the honeymoon. I projected, as I have a bad habit of doing, that this year I would finally feel unburdened, that it might be time to take a vacation--mentally, if not physically. And of course, as always, when the time rolled around it turned out that my projection was way off. After all the changes we have gone through in the past few years, I feel further away from a honeymoon than ever. I feel weathered. Though I will say, I am thrilled that Dave and I have managed to weather it all together. We may be worse for the wear, but we are also still doing whatever it is that we must do to be married, to make it work, each and every day.

I've been struggling with this post because I did not want to go all doom and gloom on marriage, did not want to think about all these threads of divorce in our culture. Then, the other night, I was down in the basement watching the girls throw themselves at the chair swing and threaten to fling themselves off the slide platform, and I noticed on the bookshelf the big photo album that my aunt Missy put together from our wedding, and I picked it up to look at it for the first time in a long time. And I found myself confronted by page after page of celebration. Not just the celebration of the vows, but I'm talking a full on party. With just about everyone in the world that we love and who loves us there to participate. And I found myself smiling. And I kicked myself for not trusting this annual exercise, which started as an experience of looking, using these photographs as evidence of something and extrapolating new meaning each year with my changing perception.

This year, I feel grateful to witness that party, to remember being at the heart of it. In an earlier draft of my divorce post, I was focused on this idea of choice: that Dave and I are often at loose ends to make choices, yet we knew enough to choose each other. Today, instead, I am interested in the notion of celebration. Or maybe not instead. Maybe it is the celebration of choice. Dave has a great sense of humor and is often doing his best to make me smile, to banish the shadows I manage to create for myself, and too often, I refuse to let this be a balm. So today I remind myself to laugh at his jokes. To laugh at myself! I know that nothing is this simple, and that marriage will always be hard work and come down to any number of factors. But I think I can give us a head start if I can try to remember to have a party once in a while, even if we're the only ones invited. If I can remember, as often as possible, to choose joy.

It is, after all, my middle name.

I am forever grateful to my friend Greg for shooting the wedding, for working his butt off to be, somehow, everywhere at once, and for giving me the gift of all these stories, and the right to share any and all of them with all of you.

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