Nine years ago today, Nate and I closed our eyes, held hands, said a prayer, took a deep breath and jumped off that rocky cliff known as Mt. Do Over into the uncertainty that is holy matrimony the second time around. No rip cords, no bungee lines, no instructors, no parachutes … just a free fall.
We were a little gun shy about the actual act of marriage but with each of us having a divorce under our belts and the innate sense of knowing what we could have done differently, we approached the concept of marriage with renewed optimism and hope. Kind of like contracting a horrid case of botulism at your favorite restaurant, puking your guts out for a couple of years, going back to the restaurant because the booths are comfy, the lighting is soft, the bathrooms are clean and you figure the odds that Chef E-Coli still works there are low and even if he does, you’ll order the steak instead of the fish.
We had a very simple ceremony in a very simple chapel. I wore a simple white dress, Zoe was our flower girl, my dad walked me down the aisle, my mom stood up for me and Nate’s dad stood up for him. We invited close family and friends. We had an elegant meal at a nice restaurant, the best wedding cake I’ve ever tasted, lots of hugs and congratulations and an early night. It was a wonderfully simple event. No band, no dancing, no garters, no waiting in a receiving line to shake hands with people you don’t know and will never see again, no surprising drunk wedding guests hooking up in the coat room, no DJ playing Celebration over and over until you smack him upside his head with his microphone, and no feeling like a fugitive on Dateline because a photographer insists on hovering his mammoth camera within inches of your face. Actually, maybe it would have been better if our photographer had been a little more assertive and a little less, I don’t know, stupid? Maybe then she would have actually remembered that we had all of eight tables of guests, not just seven and then maybe I’d have a photo of my closest friends celebrating our wedding. But no, she was stupid. However, all was not lost as she did manage to get the money shot of Nate’s grandmother getting ready to lift her dress and moon someone.
My second wedding was markedly different than my first wedding back in 1991 when it took over a year to decide on a guest list and flowers and food and wow, I just had a vivid flashback to the six rounds I went with my mother over buffet vs. sit-down. Ah, the memories … where’s a tissue when you need one? I actually won that particular battle with my mother but by that point, I was too exhausted and resentful to celebrate my victory and settled for a “so there” mumbled under my breath when she wasn’t looking. I agonized while trying to configure a seating chart that ensured those who hated each other had a safe zone of at least three tables between them. I had more bridesmaids than I could shake a stick at, not that I shook any kind of stick whatsoever at them because that would have been rude but I’ve always liked that phrase, even though I really don’t understand what the whole stick shaking thing is about. My wedding dress was drop dead gorgeous and I still have it somewhere, professionally cleaned and preserved in a box that is undoubtedly crushed beneath a thousand pounds of crap in our slightly damp basement.
So no, my second wedding was not even in the same realm as my first wedding, except for my new strapless bra. Even though I stomped, ripped, burned and otherwise obliterated that piece of sadism I called Helga from my first wedding eight years prior, I swear the new bra was a reincarnation and the fact that it twisted, turned, rolled and shimmied up, down and all around my torso, constricting my breathing and collapsing my right lung just like Helga did in 1991 just confirms my suspicions.
I planned a wedding in 1991 and we planned a marriage in 1999 and that makes all the difference in the world. Want to know how we do it? Here’s a peek:
WHAT WORKS FOR US: The first one to actually name a restaurant wins.
WHAT DOESN’T: Where do you want to eat? I don’t know, where do you want to eat? I don’t know. What are you in the mood for? I don’t know, what do you feel like? I don’t know. Well, this is great. Why is it up to me? Why don’t you decide? Why don’t you? Fine, we just won’t go. Fine. Fine. Fine.
WHAT WORKS: Keeping frozen pizzas on hand for Nate’s dinner on those nights when I don’t cook because one or both of the girls has to be somewhere at dinnertime.
WHAT DOESN’T: Why aren’t you eating the plate I made for you? What do you mean, you don’t eat leftovers? They’re not leftovers, they’re only an hour old. They actually have to be served at another meal before they can be considered leftovers. Didn’t you learn that in school? Just heat it up in the microwave. Oh wait, I know. You don’t like it. That’s it, right? You just don’t want to tell me. It’s ok, just tell me! I won’t be mad. If you don’t tell me, I’ll make it again and we’ll have to suffer through this entire conversation one more time so just tell me.
WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T LIKE IT? SINCE WHEN?
DIVISION OF LABOR:
WHAT WORKS: Me having absolute authority over the laundry, control freak that I am.
WHAT DOESN’T: Nate deciding to wash one shirt and taking all the delicates from the washer and shoving them in the dryer on high for 57 minutes, resulting in my beautiful green angora sweater now making its debut on Helena’s American Girl doll.
OUR COMFORT ZONES:
WHAT WORKS: Knowing and accepting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I stay inside as much as possible because my body is allergic to nature and I will never be one with the elements no matter how many times I’m forced to watch Survivorman. Likewise, Nate is outdoors as much as possible because his body is allergic to dust.
WHAT DOESN’T: Oh my God, it’s hot out here. Don’t you think it’s hot? You don’t? Is it just me? No, it’s hot. I can’t do this. I think my hair is blistering. I just … ugh, what is that? Wait … wait … oh my God, is that sweat? Yes, that is sweat. Nate, I am actually sweating. Actual beads of perpiration are running down my face and back and chest. Could this be any more gross? Oh my God, is that a bug? IS THERE A BUG ON MY FACE? I’m going inside before I die.
WHAT ALSO DOESN’T: Oh my God, it’s freaking cold out here. What the hell degrees is it? My nose is frozen. Nate, is my nose still there? I can’t feel it. Feel my fingers … can you feel them? I can’t feel them. Am I walking OK? Because I can’t feel my feet. What does frostbite feel like? Is this frostbite? I can’t breathe. Where’s my tongue? I think my tongue is frozen. Nathe? Ith my tongue thtill there? Nathe? Hep me, Nathe. I wanth go inthide Nathe. I’m gointh inthide. Nathe?
WHAT WORKS: Accepting Nate-isms, as in “affirmative” for yes, “negative” for no and “action item” for something that needs to be done immediately as in RIGHT THIS INSTANT.
WHAT DOESNT: Avoiding conversation until I’m spoken to like a normal human being because that could take awhile and we need to discuss whatever it is that needs discussing before I lose my teeth, shrink, turn into a human Shar Pei and die of organ failure.
WHAT WORKS: Slowing down and waving to the asshole in the car immediately behind you to pass you rather than having him hump your bumper for the next 18 miles.
WHAT DOESN’T: Slamming on your brakes to see if the asshole behind you actually rams into you because sacrificing the car and your family is totally OK if you are in the right in the eyes of the law and that annoying little green Geico gecko and it’s more important to be right than alive.
WHAT WORKS: Putting up with quirks such as Nate cutting his spaghetti with a steak knife in one direction, turning his plate and cutting in the opposite direction, done with such ferocious intensity that if I shut my eyes, I can practically see a rabid badger clawing its way through our kitchen table, because part of being married means accepting your spouse’s idiosyncrasies.
WHAT DOESN’T: STOP IT, STOP IT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD , STOP IT BEFORE I GOUGE MY EYES OUT WITH A FORK.
WHAT WORKS: Nate repeating the following phrases for approximately one hour: What’s wrong, Andy? Talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong.
WHAT DOESN’T: Nate repeating those phrases for approximately one hour. I know this sounds like it should work according to the above, but it’s all in the timing. Sometimes it works and I break down and cry and tell him what’s wrong and he fixes it and sometimes it doesn’t work because I don’t want him to fix it, I just want him to be aware of it, to acknowledge its existence, to just listen to me and agree with me that is just sucks but for the love of Pete, NOT FIX IT. It’s basically a crap shoot and I feel for Nate, I really do, because it’s his crap shoot and the odds change on a daily basis, depending on the position of the sun and whether or not everyone has enough clean underwear to last through tomorrow.
WHAT WORKS: Getting an artificial Christmas tree.
WHAT DOESN’T: Watching in horror and shielding the kids’ eyes as Nate takes a hacksaw to the once beautiful Blue Spruce that adorned our dining room because he’d rather hack it to pieces than drag its carcass across the new carpet, through two doorways, out to the end of the driveway where he will be forced to stare at it for days on end because the garbage men didn’t have enough room in their truck to pick it up that week and in the meantime, he is wading through a sea of needles that he can feel but can’t see and this is enough to drive him insane for the next six months or until he vacuums 273 times, whichever comes first.
WHAT WORKS: A GPS system.
WHAT DOESN’T: Asking Nate to slow down so that you can actually decipher the map without getting car sick, all the while yelling at the top of your lungs that it’s not your fault that they make the Grand Canyon look so small on these stupid maps and maybe if he had just asked for directions from that homeless man with the broken shopping cart and no teeth five miles back, we wouldn’t be in this predicament known as LOST UP SHIT’S CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE so don’t even talk to me anymore or so help me God, I will get out of this car and walk my ass back to Las Vegas alone even if it kills me.
Happy anniversary, Nate! You still make me catch my breath and wonder at my luck in finding a love with you that I didn’t think was possible. I truly believe you are my soul mate and if you ever read this blog, know that I love you more now that I did when we jumped off that cliff nine years ago and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.