I’m REALLY glad we got married on the first Saturday in December last year instead of this year.
If you don’t live in northern Indiana, you might not know about the weather today–the rain falling from a gray sky and the puddles forming in the leaf-crusted streets, waiting to splash up onto fine clothes and Christmas parades.
“I suppose there are people getting married today around here,” I told Marnell this morning as the rain dripped from the eaves, “and I should feel sorry for them.”
“So that’s how you feel about marriage,” he said.
I really can’t keep up with all of his comebacks, and even after living with them for 364 days, they still catch me by surprise.
“You are CRAZY!” I told him the other day, after he made just such a remark.
“I know,” he said. “That’s why I like YOU so much.”
(In all fairness, that’s a valid point. Why would anyone marry a writer who is going to post “Reflections on 364 Days of Marriage”?)
We’ve spent a delightful couple of months having people visit who couldn’t make it to our wedding. First, there was my cousin Sara and her family, who were in Ghana for three years. We pulled the last piece of wedding cake from the freezer and ate it with them. Then we had Marnell’s nephew Adrian and his sister. We had baklava and grilled chicken with them. Adrian is in mission work at Northern Youth Programs, and was unable to leave for our wedding. Most recently, we had my cousin Anita and her husband Kendall. They had a wedding in Oregon the same weekend, and were planning to spend time by the ocean after a difficult fall. We looked at photos and talked about our lives as singles and Anita left me a nice note saying that she was so glad that we had both found wonderful husbands that we had never even heard of in the days when we talked about guys together.
Setting up wedding decor for these visitors reminded me of the fun of our wedding day. Getting ready at Laurel Street with Rosie, Sarah, Velinda, Kendra, and Angie. Meeting Marnell at the beautiful church with the high ceiling where Nancy was rushing around with fresh flowers. Taking photos with Mel and my sister Kerra coming along for awhile and running around Elkhart in the bus. Beautiful music and white dresses. Laughter and warm hugs, chicken and California blend, hot chocolate and carols and thread snowflakes and baklava and cupcakes and caramels and old friends and trivia and a limousine. Despite the stress leading up to the wedding, the actual day was the most fun day of my life, I think.
So how do I feel about marriage?
Sometimes, it’s like our lunch on Monday.
We were traveling home from Mississippi where we spent Thanksgiving and I was hungry for Diet Lemonade and a chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-A, but there weren’t any directly on our route. There was one six miles off the road, and we decided to take the time to go there, even though we didn’t really want to burn the extra twenty minutes.
As we neared the spot on the map, I noticed for the first time that the Chik-fil-A was marked in the center of Eastern Illinois University.
“Uh-oh,” I said. “I’m afraid it’s in the university.”
And so it was. We drove by a regal stone building that looked like a castle and turned on the next street. An arctic wind was blowing across the state, which is as flat as an ice rink and was nearly as cold. We parked in an empty lot and hurried through the fierce wind to the stone castle. It was bitterly cold. I had forgotten since last winter that cold could be so uncomfortable. Finally, we burst into the building through heavy wooden doors, where huge portraits of academic leaders lined the main lobby. It was like walking into a refuge of warmth.
“Is there a Chik-fil-A here?” we asked a woman walking down the hallway.
“Uh, yes, it’s three buildings over in the Student Union,” she said.
Three buildings sounded like three miles, but we burst out into the cold again. Of course, every step we took in that direction would be an additional step we would have to retrace to get to the car.
The lemonade and chicken was good, I’ll say, and I got a hot chocolate to carry out with us, which helped a little. Later that evening we were congratulating ourselves that, despite the delay, we had gotten home much sooner than we thought. Then we got home, and saw that neither of our cell phones had changed back to Eastern Time. It was an hour later than we had thought.
Marriage, is like that Chik-fil-a, sometimes. You think you know where you’re going, with your schedule perhaps, but you find you’re after a moving target.
Sometimes, marriage is like our dinner on Wednesday after Marnell’s prosthetic appointment in Fort Wayne.
“Cloth napkins, Marnell,” Marnell’s co-worker John said when I arrived at Jomar and he heard we were going out. “None of this paper stuff. Send me a picture.”
After Jason adjusted Marnell’s artificial leg, Marnell asked him if he had any recommendations for a place to eat. We were in an unfamiliar city, and we figured we would end up driving around half lost for awhile, trying to find something we liked and probably paying a fortune in the end. We may as well ask a local.
“Ah,” Jason said, with a smile. “There’s this place called Tucano’s.”
“Italian?” I said.
“Brazilian!” he said. “They have a huge salad bar, and then they bring out skewers of grilled beef and fish and chicken and pineapple and vegetables. They cut off little pieces for you and you can eat until you’re full. The only thing is its a little pricey.”
I remembered hearing of some places with charges in the triple digits, which seemed a bit excessive.
“Maybe $20 a plate,” he added.
“Oh, so not one of those $100 places,” I said.
“How far away?” Marnell asked.
“Right across the street,” Jason said. “We order it for lunch.”
Oh, it was splendid. We drove right out and across the street and there we were. The meat was presented to us in both English and Portuguese, the language of Brazil. I tried a quail egg and a chicken heart, and many treats that were more familiar. The strawberry lemonade was served in a goblet, and there were cloth napkins!
So marriage is sometimes like that, where you think you know what you’re going to have to face, and then it’s so much more fun and so much easier than you thought it would be!
So my dear, it’s not SO bad being married to a writer, is it? I like being married to a crazy man!
I like being married to a romantic man too. Last night after watching a delightful performance of The Sound of Music, I said “I hope we have 70 more anniversaries.”
“Seventy!” Marnell said.
And that was before my lovely bouquet of long-stemmed red roses arrived today through the rain!
And for anyone who wants to revisit last year with us, some wedding photos!