A week from today and one year ago, I got married. I wore a long white dress and I fake laughed for pictures with my friends; I ugly cried as I walked down the aisle and I promised my best friend that I'd do my very best to take care of him for the rest of our lives. It was a day saturated with magic, a spectacular performance of love set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge mountains. It could not have been more perfect; I could not have been more terrified.
When you are a child of divorce, you are acutely aware of the fact that two good people with the best of intentions could love each other at one point and not love each other anymore at another. I grew up in what I consider one of the best-case scenarios of divorce -- I was a baby when it happened so the divorce itself was not a traumatic experience in my life, more a story I told people to explain why I couldn't come to a slumber party on any given weekend. Both of my parents have been present for every moment of my life, and I never questioned just how much I was loved. Most importantly, they always did their very best to respect the role one another played in my brother's and my life despite their own disagreements, a luxury most children in our circumstance, unfortunately, are not allowed.
But the fact is, there will always be one Christmas and two sets of expectations. And you can only be shuttled back and forth between separate lives so many Sunday afternoons before you realize that this wasn't what anybody had planned for when they started out. I can remember lying awake in bed at my dad's house on his weekends and hoping that my mom wasn't lonely without me there. I know now that on my dad's weekends she was enjoying a dollar margarita with friends at the local Taco Cabana, which must have been a very close second to reminding me for the fifth time that my Raja bedspread would not attract deadly Tigers into my bedroom as far as nighttime activities go, but I still get sad when I think of my seven-year-old self, carrying the burden of loving two people who no longer love each other.
It's really hard to admit that these thoughts were running through my head on my wedding day. Especially because my parents were a united front for the entirety of our engagement -- they even walked me down the aisle together. But it's not easy to ignore a lifetime of evidence that the whole marriage thing could fall apart, and nearly impossible to suspend your belief in the fact that sometimes things don't work out. And as the music started to play and I linked arms with my parents to head down the aisle, I couldn't help but acknowledge the irony of the situation, they were coming together to help me do the thing that had ended so badly for them.
But of course, there's one variable we haven't covered in this equation. A 6'3" variable that is warm and loving and handsome as heeeeelllll. And as soon as he came into focus that day, so too did the life we were going to have together, the one we'd already spent five years building side by side. As our friend and officiant read the story of how we met and how we fell in love to our friends and family, the narrative in my head started to shift and different evidence became more concrete. Five years of proof that we were devoted to one another, and willing to forgive each other even when it was not easy. Five years' proof that life together was a life we both enjoyed. Five years' proof that we were better people than we had been before we came together. Five years' proof that we loved each other enough to promise we'd keep it up for the rest of our lives.
This year has been a lot of different things all at once. We have celebrated victories and fought openly on the subway. Climbed literal mountains and wallowed in metaphorical valleys. We have loved each other the best we could and squeezed Liza between us when our love for her was the only thing upon which we could find common ground.
As I write this, Spence is asleep next to me under a ratty old quilt on our pull-out couch because the air conditioning is broken in the bedroom of our tiny East Village apartment. We've both gotten chubby around the middle and if I had to guess, he's going to wake up with bad breath and a headache from one too many beers. And then we are going to get up and get coffee at Native Bean on 1st and Avenue A and then come back and clean our apartment because his parents are coming to town this week. And then we will snuggle Liza and watch an episode of The Office. Maybe get some work done, maybe ride our bikes to the gym and rock climb for a bit. Then we will go watch Game of Thrones with friends and come back and get into our bed (couch). And we'll kiss goodnight and spoon for 5 minutes until I scooch over to my side of the bed (couch) to fall asleep.
And though the TV shows will change and we'll hopefully someday have a bedroom again, and cats will become kids and then grandkids, and bike rides to the gym will become putters around the neighborhood or strolls in rascal scooters, I figure we will more or less continue doing these things every day for our whole lives.
I don't have that same fear today as I did a week from today one year ago. Yes, there is still evidence of the fact that best-laid plans fall through, and that people change and things fall apart. But the fact is, Spencer and I have a lifetime together to prove that theory wrong, and I look forward to doing just that.