Saturday May 26. 2001

what you're supposed to do

The actual impetus for coming home to Lebanon this weekend was not, in fact, Memorial Day, but that my Dad asked me to help him tape a wedding. Taping weddings is a little business he put together about a year ago. Putting together little temporary businesses seems to be a thing my Dad does often. A couple years ago he made little replicas of people's houses out of clay. It sounds cheesy when I describe it, but they were really incredibly detailed and accurate.

But anyway, the wedding. Part of the package my Dad offers along with the video is digital photos. He had been taking them with the camera bundled with our camcorder, but the quality of the photos really sucked, so he asked me to use my camera and my "expertise" (ha) to help him out.

I have always felt really weird about weddings. As I sat there and thought about it, it had been at least 6 or 7 years since I had been to one. I've always seen them as socially awkward events where a hodgepodge of people who don't really know each other and perhaps even dislike each other get together for an orgy of cheesy decorations, bad food and arcane traditions like that bouquet and garter thing. It may appeal to most people, but the social hermit in me just absolutely clams up in large gatherings. And god forbid if I was the bride, the supposed center of all this attention. I would have to circulate and schmooze and be nice to people I don't like. Sorry, it just isn't my thing.

The bride, in this case, looked absolutely petrified. She had that frozen deer in the headlights look. When we were taking pictures before the ceremony, her smile looked downright painful and she was shaking so badly her lip was actually twitching.

I'll skip any mention of the ceremony other than it was extremely boring and extremely traditional, with bad music and a lot of Jesus and God. The reception was actually much more interesting. It was held at the Lebanon Country Club, county seat of snobbishness, surrounded by golf course and furnished in the usual manly dark mahogany with prints of ducks and deer on the wall. Not surprisingly, I had never been there before.

But: an open bar, and my father would not let me get a rum and coke. He muttered something about not drinking on the job. So I had to be make do with about a half dozen Shirley Temples. And I would like to make a note of the fact that today was first time in my life someone actually came up to me with a tray in hand and asked, "Would you like an hor'deourve?"

I guess I'm moving up in the world.

We actually got fed dinner, too, and over salmon my Dad and I actually talked about stuff. For the first time in a long time. And John came up. And marriage came up. He jokingly asked, "So do you think he's the One?"

I sighed. "Yeah, I think so." I don't think I like that, the One. I don't think there is a One.

Truth be told, I have thought about marriage. In only the most abstract terms. Though my high school aquaintances are dropping around me like flies, I just think it's too soon to even start thinking about that sort of thing. But I have thought about it. And when I do, it's not "Oh my god I'm only 20 and I'm deciding who I want to spend the rest of my life with" but rather "Yeah. That could be really cool."

The idea of marriage doesn't scare me, but something else does. I've never mentioned it directly here, but anyone who reads closely has probably figured it by now. John is significantly older than me. I don't mean by just five or ten years. And this scares me. It's a hard thing. It's a thing I've tried to convince myself that doesn't matter, but it does. I know it does.

It doesn't matter in the important ways, of course. If it did, I don't think I'd be here talking about him. It's amazed me how little it matters in the things we do, the music we like, the things we read and what we talk about. The generation gap, the misunderstandings and miscommunication because of our ages that everyone warned me about is just not there. It never has been, and I don't think it'll ever be.

What worries me more is the simple fact that he's older than me. When I'm 35 he'll be a senior citizen. Our goals for our lives are going to be drastically different. I'm not afraid of that, I'm afraid that they may be so far apart that it won't work out.

There are certain prescribed things you have to do in your life, according to this culture and society. They all have their appropriate times and order. Marriage in your 20s to someone close in age, 2.5 children, putting them through college, retirement, growing old together. This formula doesn't account for you meeting and falling in love with a man your father's age when you're 20. Suddenly everything you expected, everything you were told you had to be is thrown off kilter, and you are scared.

I was scared. I was so scared, and that lasted for at least six or nine months. I wondered if I was crazy, I wondered why I was doing something that was socially unacceptable. People looked at us (and still look at us) and make all sorts of assumptions about the nature of our relationship. That's hard, and I kind of understand what interracial couples went through years ago. But through it all I held onto one thing: that I had found something, I found a love that most people aren't going to get in their lives, no matter what their age. We were two lonely people who happened to find each by chance. That's a chance I'm willing to take.

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One Year Ago:
"If I don't have a job, my parents will murder me. Simple as that."