Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marriage is a beach

Being married reminds me of swimming off the Oxford Ferry dock when we were little. It's easy to get nostalgic. And it's fun. Thankfully, after 13 years today, our marriage hasn't been banned like swimming off the ferry dock.

With a late June wedding, summer makes me think of our day in the sun, getting married on the Tred Avon River in the church I grew up in. But summer makes me think of Robin and our 17 years together, in general. She is a teacher and a good many of our trips and adventures have happened over the summer, when she is on vacation. We've covered some ground--Colorado, Maine, Florida, Cooperstown, N.Y. (pictured above), the Outer Banks--or we've been just as happy on our home rivers or Ocean City.

I know that summer is going to bring us time together, to do whatever. Marriage has done the same. So maybe marriage is summer vacation.

Maybe I've been mulling over too much Kierkegaard lately, with his fear and trembling over life's big decisions, but life can come unwrapped or unglued or just be generally chaotic at times. We'll keep the water metaphor rolling here, with life as water/river/ocean. Our response to the water, is to build a life--whether a dock, a living shoreline, bulkhead, beach. Something to buffer us, something to comfort, something to give us shape in the midst of chaos. Our jobs, our likes, our families are part of that. So maybe marriage is a beach.

For me, Robin and our marriage has been that constancy. You don't often see marriage billed as a buffer against existential dread, nor should you, as that sounds pretty fu**ing glum. But maybe you see what I am getting at. When you find someone to go through life with, through the tough times, through uncertainty, that's a rare and special thing.

But in 13 years it has rarely felt that way. It has felt more like the kind of beach you picture, non-metaphorically--it's been fun. Fun to the point where I know I would be missing out on life's most fun times were we not married. From concerts to boat rides, from parties for no reason to speaking slurred French at Schooners Llanding 17 years ago. When I string my best, most fun memories together, most of them have happened in the time Robin and I have been together.

Marriage makes me nostalgic in that way, enjoying the looking back at where we've been. But it also makes me hopeful. The looking ahead to where we might go. But beyond looking in either direction, it makes me enjoy the now. It makes me enjoy getting up in the morning and it makes me enjoy coming home after work.

I'm not sure what I think of marriage as an institution. It doesn't always work. Maybe it's flawed. Maybe people don't take it seriously enough. Maybe marriage shouldn't be so serious. For me, I know why marriages don't always work. Because not everyone finds Robin.

In the spirit of looking back, here are thoughts from our 12-year anniversary last year and on our 11-year anniversary the year before. 


Rain said...

WOW, your wife is lucky to have a husband who looks at a marriage to her in such a special way.
Happy Anniversary!

The Velveteen said...

LOVE this. I want to send this to everyone I know and tell them, "look, see it CAN be done!"

As always, very well said. Happy Anniversary!

A.K. said...

You're a good man Michael Valliant. And a good father. For me those two things (husband and father) are similar...they can be challenging and frustrating and foundational and intensely breathtaking.

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks so much, Rain, VT and AK. Father and husband are certainly two of the words I use most frequently to describe myself. And they say and mean a lot. AK, your description is spot on.