I wasn’t sure that I wanted marriage or children. Marriage was the aspiration of insecure women with little ambition. I was sophisticated, and metropolitan, and evolved (Whew! Lol, right?).
More than that, I didn’t think someone black would ever love me, truly. I was weird and prude and unconventional. And not in the interesting way, not in the compelling—I need to know HER—kind of way. I was militant, but no one knew it. Committed to the idea of heritage and legacy and building healthy, stable, strong black communities.
Some days I feel married. Not necessarily on the happiest or most blissful days, but on the days when we struggle to communicate, to make eye contact, or to truly hear each other. It isn’t the stress of falling apart, but the conversations afterwards. The rose, bud, thorns. The “who messed it up” and how did we get off track moments.
I felt married last winter when we debated sleeping in the UHaul because our savings ran dry and we’d been rejected from apartment after apartment. We stayed one too many nights in a hotel and needed a more permanent, less expensive solution.
I felt married on his birthday when he came over at 7:30am on a Saturday so I could run with him. It was November in Chicago, November winter, and all he wanted was for us to run together. The struggle is real.
I felt married when I got sick this summer. It started as a sore throat and then migrated to my back. Eventually it was difficult to even turn my head. Driving was excruciating, as was reading, writing, eating. Everything, really. He met me at work and drove me to the hospital. He had to help with most of the forms because of my pain. I was scared, but he was even-keeled and comforting. He told me silly stories to keep my mind off the pain.
I felt married when we set up a date to do our taxes together. Forms were everywhere (some still back in Chicago). We’d given each other reminders. Emails, texts, notes around the house—even though we lived together.
Legitimacy is important.
I still believe that marriage should always follow love (although it doesn’t necessarily precede it). I believe this whole-heartedly, although I understand in ways that I never dreamed I’d understand a) that we can’t always marry the people we love, b) that we shouldn’t always, c) and that love in itself is not a marriage, no matter how much we might wish it.
Marriage, I imagine, requires something much, much more.
He’s more self-assured than I am, more capable. He’s happy with little, likes wood, and earth, and setting down roots. He sees beauty in things that I find mundane and dilapidated. He can look at something, anything really, and instantly imagine what it could be—not what it is, not what it’s always been.
I’m not optimistic. I worry. I plan. I harbor resentment. I revisit; I think through.
I struggle with joy and staying in the moment—not rehashing what I should’ve said or should’ve done or didn’t do.
I worry about my weight, my work-life balance, my impatience.
Love is not a marriage. It’s sky rockets in flight. It’s no one, not even the rain, has such small hands. But marriage, I imagine, is a complicated melody a complicated fellow, he, I almost cannot sing it on key.
It’s surviving, mourning, worshipping, celebrating, forgiving, fighting, accomplishing, destroying, rebuilding, repurposing, undoing, untangling, bending, folding, washing, drying, saving, storing, falling, soaring, wishing, hoping, sending, saving, keeping, weeping, writing, working, finding, losing, struggling, choosing.
Over and over and over and over and over and over again.