There are things which can be left to chance or whim; pesto or marinara, jeans with a crease or jeans without a crease, Mont Blanc or Ticonderoga #2. What you eat or wear or write with is a preference and we all have the freedom of green or red, ironed or rumpled, slick across the page or scritchy-scratch. The rule is not in what you choose, but rather, how you view the choice, once made.
I believe in marriage and commitment and sticking. I believe in fighting for what you want and fighting for what you have and staying around to see the outcome. There is a choice in who you love and you are free to make it. You can hook up or date around or go steady or make a commitment. Despite sidelong looks and tongues clucked by great aunts, it is your call and you can make it. I have done all four. At twenty-two, I said vows in Lyngby, Denmark to a man I had known only six months. My family privately gave it another six months. It has lasted just shy of twenty-five years.
Lucky? In love? Lucky in love? That can’t be all there is to it. I was there for the days when we looked at each other and saw faults, faults that threatened to gape into chasms with the next shift in the landscape. I remember balling up my fists and holding them very tightly to my side so that those fists would not take trips to places from which there was no return, counting out loud and getting to ten several times. We made lists of household chores and rules for division of time and we folded them up and we kept them and we used them until the day when they were just pieces of paper to toss out when cleaning the house. We negotiated. We failed and we forgave. We tried again and again and again. We moved seven times, both of us there to put up the same pictures on the walls in each new place.
My husband and I are not the kind of people who quit. I don’t know if that was true when we met, but it became true somewhere in between moves and just before or after our only daughter was born. We became the kind of people who stay, not because of a marriage license or a list of rules made. No, we stay because the place we built can shake and still endure the earthquake. We made a place that requires maintenance and gets it. It is a marriage that can move from city to city and to foreign countries, feeling at home. We made a choice together on April 29, 1982, and committed to something that has become more than either of us could have known at the time. Staying and working and building… this I believe.
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