Sunday, September 13, 2020

The dreams and the reality

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, June 2020

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being married. As I got older, the vision in my mind only got stronger and more vivid as to what I dreamed it would be like. I’d meet this amazing, dark-haired man and we’d have virtually everything in common. We’d go on picnics and watch movies together. We’d lie in the grass under a tree and have deep conversations about the future. We’d bake cookies together and someone would inevitably throw flour at someone and we would laugh and laugh. We’d have a neat and tidy house, eventually a couple of well-behaved children, and live happily ever after. 

Like, none of that happened. None of it. Okay, well, we’re happy and this seems to be the “ever after” part they mention, so okay, those happened. He doesn’t even have dark hair – he’s a ginger for crying out loud. We have virtually no like interests, we aren’t even politically aligned, and if you turn on a movie, one or both of us will likely fall asleep.  

A friend text me the other day to tell me that her husband had just shown her a pimple he had on his back. She’s 13 years my junior and has been married 10 years to my 27. I had to laugh as I responded with, “I hate to break it to you, but he’s probably gonna offer to show you a hemorrhoid one of these days, probably fairly soon. Get ready.” 

In reality, marriage (and mostly life in general) isn’t the storybook version of “romantic.” It isn’t deep conversations under trees in your perfectly manicured yard, or flirtatious food fights. No, it’s mostly exhausted questions answered with exhausted grunts and I never dared to playfully start a food fight in my kitchen because I knew I’d be the one cleaning it up. The yard has never been manicured – he just sets that mower as low as it’ll go so he won’t have to mow so often. And when the dog tears up the trash you just hope a windy day is on tap so it will all blow away.

It’s the ugly stuff in life you never considered you might encounter that mostly comprises married life. You discover stretch marks and toe fungus, you have morning breath and really bad gas after eating Chinese food, he snores, you snore, the dog snores. Basically, everybody snores. The children are super entertaining and amazing humans, but maybe not the “well-behaved” vision you had in your head. He leaves his little beard hairs on the sink and breadcrumbs on the counter. You have an Amazon shopping problem. 

But when it comes down to it, marriage gives you a person. A person to call your own, a person who commits to being there for it all. A person who has this spot right on their shoulder where your head fits perfectly. A person who, upon hearing the word “turnpike,” immediately launches into a tirade about tolls and maintenance and you laugh even as you roll your eyes because you’ve heard that tirade a gazillion times before. A person who helps you paint even though they might hate painting even more than you do, and you hate it a lot. A person who binge-watches “Cheer” on Netflix with you and gets just as excited as you do when they stick the landing but would never admit to another living soul they did. A person who is a constant, a comfort, occasionally a source of frustration, but so many experiences and memories you can’t fathom going through them with anyone else. 

Sure there are pimples and bad breath and the years bring on gray hair and wrinkles and extra pounds, but by that point you and your person are so entrenched in this weirdly personal thing called marriage you just embrace it for what it is: your very own version of “romance.” 

No comments:

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...