And they lived happily ever after…..
It started as a farce.
I took my daughters for a 24 hour vacation with a Groupon-esque voucher we purchased for a luxe hotel on the California coast we could normally never afford. We figured we would enjoy the coast, the coves, the surf, and the trappings.
As we walked through the grounds, we saw a wedding unfolding – the setting was spectacular, with the bride and groom exchanging vows on a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific. Optimistic bridesmaids in purple satin and stilettos, happy guests, rose petals. My girls drank in the princess-like quality of it, and smiled at their divorced, cynical, albeit romantically poetic mother knowing I was rolling my eyes.
Later on we noticed that the wedding party had moved to their cocktail hour and the site of the wedding was just a bunch of chairs with rose petals strewn about. But it was still set up for a wedding. And the setting was still spectacular.
My daughters looked at me mockingly and said –“Hey mom, why don’t you get married?”
And I thought – “Why not?”
So I picked up a few of those cast off roses. And walked in that “bridey” way down the aisle. All of us humming a wedding march. The bride wore a gray peacoat and brown leather boots– a sort of post-modern nuptial wardrobe.
Then I took off the ring I recently purchased myself and handed it to my precious and precocious 8 year old who offered to officiate this nuptial nonsense.
Then I proceeded to vow to love, honor, cherish and respect myself- I said it out loud. To stay true to myself. To look after myself in conditions of health and illness. For richer or poorer. For better or for worse. To remain fearless at times of challenge.
And the “‘til death do we part” part – well that was sort of axiomatic.
My kids looked at me like I was nuts and asked if I was drunk – but my preacher daughter sweetly handed me the ring, I placed it on my finger and gave myself a kiss. We took pictures with the setting sun behind us.
Then we went ordered room service – tomato soup, grilled cheese, and red velvet cake – it was a lovely reception.
It was an interesting exercise. What if we made ceremony out of respecting ourselves, honoring ourselves? What if we invited our friends and loved ones to watch us promise to authenticate ourselves (my friends probably wouldn’t care what they were witnessing so long as I gave them free food and booze). So far Ramani and I are doing well – I have stuck by her while she is broke, taken care of her when she is sick, lost weight to help her health, and never let her shirk away from fear. Sometimes we fight, but I promise to make each day with her the best I can.
Perhaps if we engaged in this sort of public and ceremonial vow taking with ourselves – then I think we would be in a better position to do it with someone else.
I have nothing against marriage and love. I have EVERYTHING against using marriage as a place of fear, false security, and inauthenticity. I cringe at wedding shows that are more about about dresses and DJs and less about commitment and growth. In fact, I am in very much in love with someone extraordinary, and hope to make an honest man of him someday. But I can only do that if I can hold to these vows to me. On a daily basis. My kids said “Mom that wasn’t really a wedding”… I said “Why – because I married myself?” And they said “No, because there was no one else there.” I told them that wasn’t true – they were there. They rolled their eyes at my psychobabble. A wedding doesn’t make a marriage. And pleasing others is no reason to stay in something broken. Teach yourself how you want to be treated, and then someday, invite someone in to share in the wonder that is you. A beautiful relationship is a mirror.
In lieu of gifts I decided to settle for debt. But I would love a cocktail shaker……..
And I enter a honeymoon period with myself now…….
Wish us luck.