Wedding Bell Blues

My heart is just a blood-soaked pothole in someone’s back alley.

Ah, love. It’s a many-mansplain’ed thing.

Seriously, I’ve got nothing constructive to say about the institution of marriage.

Or so I think.

I never married. It seems ridiculous to mention it, but there were times I thought it was possible. But that happened only rarely.

I feel compelled to weigh in now that my story is at the point where I attend my brother’s wedding in 1989.

And this being 2017, it’s also the year that he and his wife of 28 years finalize their divorce.

—Am I surprised? Yes and, well, no.

No need to pull out the statistics. Most marriages don’t succeed—that’s generally acknowledged.

And I don’t see any reason to run through the histories of my friends’ (or family’s) relationships or marriages (failed or otherwise) because the story we think we know is never the reality the couple actually experienced together. The opinions of anyone else instantly makes any judgment moot.

They had a lovely run, Brian and his wife. Three beautiful, healthy children, a couple well-maintained homes, and memories with doting grandparents on both sides of the family.

Our parents, for their part, were proud about two things: that Brian married (since it didn’t seem likely I would) and that I graduated college (that, too, looked dicey for the longest time). My journal recaps the wedding on Monday, Oct. 9, 1989, but says little about my state of mind and nothing about how distant I felt during it.

I was smack in the middle of a “creative period.” That summer I’d finished Vicious Frieze III and was writing the first draft of the Ellen Terry screenplay. I took classes at Metro State University during the day and worked the night shift proofreading direct-mail marketing pieces. I had my own apartment but had broken up with Sally, my most recent girlfriend at the time, in 1987. I was also growing my hair out, which appalled my parents, even to the point where they demanded (something I learned only from Brian) that I cut it in time for the wedding—something I refused to do.

“It was a cool, windy autumn day,” the journal describes Friday, Oct. 6. “Not many clouds but certainly cool.” I got to the rehearsal early, meeting up with my grandfathers, aunt and uncle, and cousin with her family. It seemed awkward, the entry reports, as “the priest—fighting a cold—sent us through our paces.”

After the rehearsal at St. Therese Catholic Church (Stacey, my brother’s bride, was Catholic), the folks had booked a rehearsal dinner on a Lake Minnetonka yacht that left from Excelsior Commons.

“It was windy and very cold after the sun went down and everyone shivered as we awaited boarding on the yacht. … After a while the wind had died down and a few of the younger folks went topside to watch the moon off the water. A few of us talked with the kid who steered the yacht. I was feeling pretty good, sipping beers and later Brandy & Cokes—the group was pretty divided between the morose Maupin family and the chatty, ebullient Nelson side.”

The morose meets ebullient. Hrm.

Marriages are always about bigger things: creating a culture all their own. The two families were negotiating the terms of that culture (photo at left: me, Mom, and Aunt Joyce aboard the boat) and how things would go forward with this “new family.”

I probably should’ve been more present, but by 1989 I’d attended a fair share of high school friends’ weddings and, while I enjoy them for the optimism, cheer, good food and coffee, I get easily exhausted by large groups of people.

It’s just how I’m built.

Anyway, 13 years later I received a letter from Mom with a photo enclosed. The folks were not an openly affectionate couple, so it surprised me to see it was of them kissing. Mom wrote on the back of the photo: “A couple of old Valentines. Disney World—Celebrating 45 yrs.”

Five years after that, Mom died.

Then Dad died of a heart attack four months later.

How will their sons make it on their own? How will my brother and I live in a world without women? I’m concerned because I don’t know how he weighs in on the issue.

My women friends sustain me—and I try my best to help sustain them—but we’re currently in a worldwide culture war. Who will we end up supporting? Who will support us?

Maybe I have nothing constructive to say about marriage. But I will say that the private world of two people can ripple out and touch so many lives.

If marriage is important, then I guess it can be looked at from that perspective.

~ by completelyinthedark on September 28, 2017.

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