My parents’ relationship didn’t exactly inspire trust in the institution of marriage. In fact, their almost nightly screaming matches convinced me at a young age that marriage was hopeless and broken. When their tirades began I would usually go try to hide in the garage or outside in the bushes. Their arguments would echo throughout the neighborhood, and I would try to position myself out of earshot, but I could never get far enough away. More than sad I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed for them, what with the sheer volume and prolific profanities over the seemingly most mundane disagreements. Things that should not provoke such responses. I also felt embarrassed for myself, since they were my family and I was somehow involved by genetics and proxy, despite my best attempts to distance myself from it all. Every time I heard them arguing I told myself that I would never get married, because it seemed to bring out nothing but spite and swearing and angry sentiments. My sister and I were forgotten victims. When my father finally left for good and the house fell silent, it felt like a release from torture. Until, that is, my mother eventually turned her nagging bitterness on me, but that is a different story.
When I met my wife I felt a certain connection that was beyond profound, and I was truly frightened. I had been in plenty of relationships of many lengths, but usually entered into them with the understanding that they were all doomed, no matter how amazing, lustful, or fulfilling they felt at the time. I always had an escape plan, an emergency exit for when things went south. As involved as I may have seemed I never fully invested myself with the thought of marriage as an end result, and that made it all temporary and disposable. But this woman that became my wife terrified me. She was so smart, beautiful, and exotic. She had viewpoints I admired and respected, and became a beautiful foil to my foibles and detachment. She drew me into her in a way that I never thought was possible. She broke down those prison walls and let me free, and helped complete the person I was meant to be.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my wife, my love, my other half.
family photo (by flora-file)