Two friends of mine are courting in a way that reminds me of the courtship my husband and I had. We had been friends for a few years before we started dating, and when we did start dating, we tried to keep it under wraps for a while. We had a lot of friends in common, friends who had been wanting for a long time to see each of us meet that someone, friends who would jump up and down that we had in fact met that someone, and it was us.
So I’ve been thinking about our courtship then and our life now almost twelve years later. That fall when we were falling in love, it was as though everything smelled like honey coming from bees wax, and dating on the sly (or so we thought) added an element of intrigue, and when I would get to see him it felt like it was sunny and 70 or a full moon with a light breeze for those days we did get to spend together.
Now we’ve been married for ten years, and we’ve moved a few times. We were thrilled to have one child, and disappointed at times and crushed at other times not to have another. We work together now, too, and in so many ways the bloom is off the rose.
But the bloom never stays on the rose; what fun would that be? We’re more tired than we were when we were courting. We have more gray hairs. We don’t dance nearly as often as we used to. But we still have this sense that we are in this together, and when it’s good that’s a good thing, and when it’s not good it can feel like a bit of a millstone. But we’re lucky, I guess, because the times when it’s not good are few and far between.
It is hard to work together when we’re both under stress and under the same stress – we have nowhere to escape to, really, and the person I would normally turn to wants to turn to me and then we get in this self-perpetuating cycle of angst, so he goes to watch a rerun of “Friends” and I bury myself in a crossword puzzle until we’re settled enough to come out of our respective corners and put down our dukes and figure out what to do next.
Yes, after ten years of marriage, the bloom is off the rose, or better, the hydrangea is starting to fade. We have a bright blue hydrangea in our yard, and I love it when it belts out this cobalt blue that seems somehow Mermanesque. But the blue only lasts for so long. And then the really interesting thing starts to happen. The blue fades to purple, and then to an oxblood sort of red, and then green comes in, so that when I finally cut it, it’s these subtle shades that emerged almost impossibly from the cobalt of those first blossoms.
Our marriage is like that – the usual and unique experience of our first love burst out one day when we were ready to tell our friends. And then we married, and moved, and changed jobs, and had a kid, and didn’t have another kid, and moved, and changed jobs. We’re not starry-eyed anymore; rarely does everything smell like honey. There’s more silence, sometimes full and beautiful and sometimes tense and wary.
But it’s interesting, this marriage. And still beautiful, in its own way. The colors have changed, but there are colors still.
For Pauly G.