November 20, 2018

How Married Do We Want to Be?

“Melinda had a point. We were on the same page about web-ordained officiants and commitment celebrations not being for us, whereas we were all in on joint bank accounts, life insurance policies, and annual honeymoon-esque vacations. But I wanted a reception. White tulips and lilacs. A dance to Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls.” I wanted to celebrate finding her, choosing her — being chosen.

My teenage purity ring had left a mark. The heart-shaped gemstone was packed away as part of my religious childhood, but the vision of myself being someone’s bride, albeit a non-traditional one, had impressed itself into my core sense of self.

See! said the voice of my parents I’d internalized for decades. We told you there was only one straight and narrow aisle to the altar.

See! echoed ex-boyfriends or girlfriends who’d told me I wasn’t marriage material because I was a slut or self-absorbed or prone to demanding my way or hitting the highway.

See! Actually, Vidjeti! in the native tongue of my Croatian Motherland. Where I heard every woman, back to the beginning of my lineage, chorusing from our ancestral village, where Melinda and I once visited and dusted off surnames on graves, while I half-wondered if she might propose, all imploring me now: How do you stay with someone who doesn’t want to marry you?”

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