Monday, February 07, 2005

Risky Business

I'm thinking of writing for Zero Boss' Blogging for Books contest this month. Topic: a time in my life when I took a risk on something or someone. Tell you what, that's my whole life. (Even the time I spent in northern Idaho, also known as the "Somebody Kill Me" year.) I'll tell you what else: There's no way I'm admitting to a lot of the risks I've taken; some of my friends and relatives drop by here once in a while. I don't want them to drop dead, too.

On the other hand, there are some doozies I could mention. Like when I asked for a divorce from my first husband. We were in this romantic suite in a beautiful castle in Scotland, his parents were in the next room (just arrived for a visit after 2 years), I could have been incredibly happy, but I spent the whole night crying and yelling very quietly lest the in-laws hear and figure out that we weren't getting along. And then to actually go through with kicking him out and living on my own in a foreign country and being miserably lonely but so much happier without him... No, that's not the one.

I could talk about the time when I shifted gears suddenly in my career and moved from suburban Washington D.C. to Hawaii in pursuit of a relationship that had already ended by the time I actually arrived in the islands... Actually, that one turned out pretty well, too, and I'll tell you why when I get to

Big Risk #3: My second wedding day
No, it wasn't the getting married part that was risky, not comparatively. The biggest risk I took (that day or any other) happened at about 7 a.m. as I was sitting on my lanai, still in my nightgown. Everyone else in the house (my then-fiance's toddler son, my parents, and my younger sister) was still asleep. I had spent a miserable night on the living-room floor, mostly sleepless, anxiety-ridden, anticipating. When my intended stepped quietly out of the guest room, looking equally haggard, I went to put my arms around him, but he pulled away.

"I don't want to get married today," he said. I did not scream or cry, though I wanted to. Hoping for a longer discussion and possibly some explanation, I grabbed his hand and pulled him out onto the lanai (front porch). I sat him down and made him repeat it. "I don't want to get married today." I struggled to remain calm. "OK. Do you want to get married at all, do you think?" He looked downcast. "I don't know."

At this point, I was pretty angry. "This is a lovely time to start thinking about it," I managed. As he stammered out something I don't remember, I was thinking furiously. "OK, would you mind telling me why you don't want to marry me?" Still keeping my voice even, although my jaw was about to lock from the effort. I wanted to know whether it was just cold feet or something else. It was something else, all right. "I want my son to have friends" was one of the reasons he pulled out.

Me, still with the intensely controlled voice, "OK, and how do you think that I'm going to prevent him from that?" I wasn't sure he realized how bizarre and flimsy his excuses were. The one about fearing that I'd be like his ex was more understandable, considering the misery she'd put him through. But I pressed him to name one way in which I was like her. He couldn't think of one, except that we were both female.

Still, he insisted that he didn't want to get married. "OK, so, as your friend," I said, "I have to ask what you plan to do instead." The idea of moving back in with his parents and trying to finish college in Alabama-- and then what?-- seemed to bother him, but that's all he could think of. "As your friend," I continued, "I have to tell you that I think that might not be the best path for you to pursue. But it's your decision."

He squirmed but stuck to his guns. Then I pulled out mine. I told him that it was certainly better for us not to get married if he didn't think any better of me and our relationship than he'd conveyed. I told him what I was looking for in a marriage: friendship, children, and a loving, supportive partnership no matter what life offered, through all the hard times, always being there for each other and, with luck, dying in each other's arms as frail octagenarians. Then I told him he was free to go just as soon as he could pack his bags. Heck, his parents were in town for the wedding; they'd take him home with them. "If marrying me isn't what you want, then go ahead-- leave."

Then I waited. The few heartbeats of time seemed like an eternity. I wanted more than anything else in the world to marry him, but I wasn't going to play stupid games anymore. Life's too short.

And you know what? He married me that afternoon, in a tropical garden on the set of "Fantasy Island." And (he says) he's never had a day's regret in these six and a half years. No more have I.


Jessica said...

Great post, Scone. You've made me start considering what risks I've taken. I would make an account of them on my blog but rather than make me look brave (like you), they would probably paint me as stupid!

Scone said...

There is a *very* fine line between brave and stupid. The only difference many times is in the outcome.

Lilly said...

Quite a tale! Risk is always a factor when marrying someone, and the pressure must have been unbelievable when the other person has a bit of a meltdown. Great post in Blogging for Books!

portuguesa nova said...

I got married in Vegas. It was just my husband and I. As we were driving to the Little White Chapel, I remember thinking, "What the hell am I doing?", but I wasn't sure if it was the Little White Chapel that I was skeptical about or marriage...Making a decision to be completely monogomous and faithful to another human being for the rest of your life transcends all laws of biology and anthropological norms. Thankfully carrying out the decision, and actually being married, is much easier. Quite wonderful, in fact!