Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: my wedding anniversary.
I think it’s impossible to stress just how much society looks on marriages and weddings as the most important day of your life. Or even as a day that means anything or changes things. The truth is much more banal for me, probably for many people who get married in this day and age. I told people I was getting married and without fault, every single person was much more excited than I was. I saw the event as an annoyance. It cost me time out of my day, money out of my pocket, and was utterly devoid of anything but legal meaning.
I don’t know if something is wrong with me or if I just look at things differently. I have been to other peoples weddings, I’ve been excited for other peoples weddings even. Taking enthusiastic part. Ordered new dresses, helped them decorated, teared up hearing their wedding vows but I stood in the court room starring at the man I had been with for over a decade of my life and I had thoughts like “if this gets any more awkward I hope someone will put me out of my misery” and “we have to get back to the house before 5 to make sure we get our friend from the airport on time.” As a person who is honestly bursting with love and very romantic, I’m even a little surprised at myself for not getting choked up about my own wedding.
The thing about meaning, the real thing about meaningful moments and events in our lives, is that we get to choose them. The things that seem meaningful to other people or deemed meaningful by society don’t really get to define how we feel about them. We get to make our own meanings.
I know that society sees the day I got married as important but to me, it was just a busy day where I went to work, got married, and then picked my friend up from the airport. The day I graduated college, after four years of hard work and so nearly almost not making it through, should have meaning too but instead it was just the day I moved out of our apartment. And after I did that, despite being so tired I thought my arms would never raise above my head again, well, that day, I went back to work. Just another day in a long line of days.
Even when I moved across the US. Even when I moved across the world I can barely even recall how I felt except relief. Those days all blurring together. Just the sense memory of when I threw myself on the bed in the hotel and closed my eyes. It didn’t feel happy or life changing or wonderful – yet. It was just a day. It was just the awake time between asleep times. Those days that have real meaning, the days that hold real value in my life, are much more elusive than the day I got a job or the day I was awarded something.
Instead of my wedding, the day that I knew I would be with Andrew forever was much more bland. I don’t know the date, only the relative time. Around the start of 2009 or maybe it was even 2010 (this is how nebulous meaning is for me, maybe how nebulous time is in general). It was the first time Andrew went in to the hospital for something very serious. It wasn’t even that it was the level of seriousness of his illness that threw me but for whatever reason I stood outside the doors of the hospital holding my phone in a tight grip for nearly an hour starring at the message telling me he was going to be held overnight and that I could visit if I wanted.
And I felt bad down into my bones because I didn’t want. Hospitals are a vector of fear from top to bottom for me and many people but as a person who is ruled by anxiety and fear, who hates hospitals so much that three minutes after waking up from major surgery I was asking through bloodied face and bandaged jaw when I was going to leave – it was not a choice. It was a no. It was turning my back.
For any other person I would have told them no. I would have said anything and done anything not to go into that hospital at that moment. I would lied about my own health, about my whereabouts, about fundamental things about myself to escape having to enter the building. But I didn’t this time. I stood at the bottom and warred with myself. I wanted and I didn’t want. I needed and I didn’t need.
Eventually I walked in, asked where his room was, and pushed the door open to stare at him. Innocently laying in bed, smiling up at me (delusionally doped on drugs through the pain but still so true). And that was it.
The truth is that’s really the day we were married in my mind.
Standing in the courtroom, his smile beaming down at me, it couldn’t compare to the one I saw from his bedside in the white lined room of the hospital. It was a poor facsimile of devotion to exchange a few words and promises about sickness and health when we’d already lived them.
This is why marriage changed nothing for me. This is why the anniversary of signing formal paperwork is just a way to keep track of a legal joining. It means something, for sure, but this specific act doesn’t mean much to me.