Sunday, June 5, 2011

18 years. A Marriage.

About a year ago, a vicious rumor wound its way to me. I was the subject of the rumor. It was a malicious one. I'm not going into the details of it -- who started the rumor, potentially why, or how Dave and I handled it -- but because the rumor was aimed at my marriage (or maybe it was aimed at me and my marriage was simply in the line of fire), it made me think about my marriage in a new way.

18 years ago today, Dave and I got married. The church basement had two rooms with an adjoining door. They functioned as separate holding pens. Just before he was called up, I opened the door. We were both alone. As if he were a stranger, I said, "I'm getting married today."

He said, "So am I."

We stared at each other -- I can still see him in my head (so excruciatingly young and sweet).

"Do you think we should run away together instead?" he asked me.

I nodded.

And then a far-off door opened -- they were ready to walk him up the stairs. "See you later," he said.

And I waved.

I have no idea why that the thought of us in that basement 18 years ago now makes me cry, but it does. I think because marriage is this big tradition that we entered into -- but it had nothing really to do with us. We were already married; after we'd been seeing each other for a month, he told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I agreed. We'd already run off together. That's the way it felt.

And 18 years later (in a country that has a love-hate relationship with marriage), it's shocking that we still love each other. We often say it with an expression of, "Seriously, what are the chances?" But more shocking is how much we like each other. We have this little mother-in-law suite, typical of Florida houses. His office was in the front and mine was in the back. It was too far away. We're now set up in back-to-back desks in the same small room. We're raising four kids together. We're business partners and creative partners. We're with each other all day long. I can say without any hesitation that we have grown completely codependent -- and that works for us.

A few summers ago, in bed, I shouted out, "Leg cramp!" and sat bolt upright in bed. He was half-asleep and said, "Your leg or mine?" All the lines are blurred.

In the reception line, his father shook our hands and said, "Jesus, marriage. It's a lot of work."

I have to say that, for me, the world is a lot of work. Other human beings are a lot of work. Negotiating how to exist in that world with those human beings is a lot of work. Dave isn't work. He's home.

What I didn't understand 18 years ago was that getting married young (I was 23, Dave 27) was that it meant -- by fat luck, we found each other early -- that we had a shot at a long marriage.

Every marriage is an organism all its own. But the long marriage allows for this incredibly intimate (if you let it be intimate) look into another person's character -- their soul, if you will. I've known Dave Scott's soul for a long time -- as he put it this morning, there's nothing else in my life that's lasted 18 years -- and knowing his soul for this long has been a privilege, an honor. Knowing his tenacious love restores my faith in humanity -- daily. Knowing Dave as intimately as I do makes it easier for me to believe that people are capable of deep goodness.

We've grown up together. We've been dirt poor together. We've had these wild kids. We've weathered miscarriage, traumas. We've been scared -- really, really scared. We've cried hard together -- in pediatric units and labor rooms and in front of our kids and alone together. We confess to each other things we can't say aloud to anyone else. And we flip each other off and cuss each other out -- there's no one I've cussed-out more vividly than Dave Scott. And we'll (hopefully) grow old together.

I once said, "You are my Starsky."
And he said, "Really? I've always thought of myself as more of a David Soul type."

18 years after the church basement and, still, there's no one else I'd rather runaway with.