Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Thoughts: Sally's Birthday & Alisha's Wedding

We threw a big party for Sally's birthday on Friday, and last night we went to a wedding.  It's been a big weekend of drinking and dancing and feasting, but especially last night at the wedding, I found myself becoming a bit reflective.

Family photo, taken from the Selfie Station at Sally's party.

Our very good friend Alisha married her long-time boyfriend Tom, and it was a truly beautiful ceremony.  They held it at an outdoor chapel in a large local camp, complete with ancient stone benches arayed in a semi-circle around the dais on which they preformed the ceremony.  Alisha's motorcade got stuck in traffic on the way to the event, so the groomsmen threw PBR to the crowd as we waited.  Even the ceremony was fun.  They then had a festival tent set up for the reception at the camp's center afterward, and we literally danced the night away.

Alisha and Tom remind me a lot of myself and Sally when we were younger.  Indeed, I felt old at the wedding because while I think of Alisha as essentially "my age," the reality is that she's barley thirty, and all of their friends are, too.  Those friends are in the season of "getting married".  A few had young kids.  Most were still in their honeymoon phase.  But Tom is a veteran and an Army Captain in the Reserves, and he was married in uniform.  He's also a South Carolina Gamecock, so... maybe a bit closer to my dad than me, but still.  That's a pretty fine distinction.  Meanwhile, Alisha is also a fitness instructor and was, until recently, Sally's boss at the Milford YMCA.

So yeah.  A few things in common, but 15+ years age difference.

It was the kind of wedding where you walked away with customized beer cozies.
For better or worse, Sally and I are in that phase of marriage where a lot of our peer group friends are getting divorced.  Most have been civil and amicable.  One or two have burned bridges in court.  But the two of us together still have a pretty good marriage, and as of Friday, folks were saying things like, "You two are so lucky.  It seems like you never have any problems."

Which is hilarious.

It's true that a lot of our marital problems are in the past, but it has taken a Hell of a lot of work to get where we are, and if things are mostly starting to come together now, this hasn't come without a Hell of a lot of struggle and sacrifice.  I'm proud of where we are, but also -- emphatically -- want folks to realize that this particular view of our lives, the one you get via this blog and social media in general, is heavily edited to put our best foot forward for public consumption.

Our marriage is still a struggle, though.  Sally only works part-time, but she keeps decidedly wacky hours, with the result that I do a lot of the Mr. Mom stuff during the week.  I cook, I clean, I do dishes, I schlep kids to dance and gymnastics...  I mean, really, it's this stuff that makes us work as a couple.  I really cater my schedule to Sally's, not the other way around.  The flipside of which is that Sally puts up with all my insane manias, crazy workout schedules, insomnia, and dedication-bordering-on-obsession with Army football, among other points of short-term insanity.  Really, it was worse a few years ago, from right after my dad died until a couple of years after my mother died -- call it 2007 to 2012 -- but even so...  I mean, I know that I'm not always the easiest person to live with.  But it's Sally that gets me out on the bike or into the pool to work on my mental state, and it was Sally who encouraged me to write my memoir and get my head on straight.  I do a lot of work to keep myself on an even keel all on my own, but man, she helps a lot.

As I told Sally last night, "It's been a lot of water under the bridge."

It's been 27 years since I first raised my right hand, 22 since I took a commission, 17 since I decided to try to live a different life, and 15 since I met the woman who made that other life make sense.  Conventional wisdom holds that "overnight success" usually takes about 15 years, and right on queue, here we are.  It's been 10 years since my father died and 6 since my mother and grandfather passed, leaving me the patriarch of my own family.  I'd be alone in the world if it weren't for my family and my classmates.  But honestly, I feel less alone now.  The work that has gone into our marriage has paid dividends that I reap every day.

Friday was fun.  The whole weekend has been fun, and indeed, our lives are mostly fun.  But it has taken a lot of planning and a lot of work to get to the point where this is true, and even then, every day is not the mountaintop.  But some days are, and on those it's worth taking a moment to survey the terrain around you.

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