There’s a funny feeling walking through a brand, new rite of passage. Even though high school, college and grad school, marriage and and parenting were all part of the expected, or at least the hoped-for, there was an odd sensation walking across the stage or back down that aisle.
In May 2000, I tossed my black, square cap and tassel as high as I could. I was done with high school forever. I would not miss it. Ever. On to more school, this time my choice. Sort of. In reality, I fought my way through college, never quite feeling secure in a major, wanting always to be somewhere else on the other side of the ocean.
But in 2005, it happened again. Black stilettos peeked out beneath the black muumuu they call a graduation gown. Up and across a new stage, I was handed another diploma case; smiles and handshakes, and it was over. Five war-torn years of good and bad choices and boys I mostly regretted and living, laughing and battling with a close friend who got married and all the happiness and grief I felt losing her. But I was finished. It was finished.
Then marriage. I didn’t see this one coming, not then, not him. Not Joshua Siders. Not in Manhattan, Kansas. I didn’t know I’d met my match at that coffee shop round table in the fall of 2006. But a year and a half later, I in pink and he in black, danced down a bright, afternoon aisle to the hurrahs and cheers of everyone we loved.
|On a day in May, four years ago.
But every time I passed into the new season, I felt that strange feeling. There was accomplishment, a box checked, new windows and doors opening in front of me. Options, opportunities, a new resume. And the nagging, enormous feeling that it all wasn’t real. Not an out of body experience. Just something I could never quite grasp. Like the times I tried to think about eternity or when I looked up at the black, night sky with stars peering through and thought, “The God who made all that made me”. Cue the internal explosion.
It just never quite made sense. Josh will tell you I spent at least the first year staring at him with squinted eyes. “We’re married,” I wondered aloud in awe. Like I was trying to hug a redwood of an idea with the arms of my mind. Every time the thought was huge, and I, so very small. “I’m done with high school.” “I’m done with college.” “We’re married.” Over and over, maybe not daily, but it struck me often. And whenever it did, I whispered to him in our hunched-over, Caribbean-hued apartment downtown, whispered we were married. As if not to shock him too much. And he was never quite as surprised as I was.
Then came a day when I didn’t need to tell myself any longer. When the truth of the reality of new beginning folded itself into the fabric of existence, and it’s okay now, okay to be graduated and married, okay to own a house, bear children.
|Us last week, celebrating four years.
The other morning I woke up and looked at Josh, and I thought about the days and weeks where we did just this, woke up next to one another, and I squinted and quietly revealed to him we had, in fact, gotten hitched. Inevitably, I was shocked; he was not.
This morning, however, I did not say that. There’s no need to anymore. The stage of knowing what is and soaking up its goodness is upon me. This is the longed-for stage of comfort and beauty, two wines in the cellar, growing aged and fine together. Finally, I know where we are, I know who we are.
So I looked over at him with my chopped off mess of hair and my nose ring and all the changes we’ve made together, and I said, “I like that I can be myself around you. I appreciate that.”