Marriage is that thing that has evaded me for three decades. Or perhaps more correctly, I have avoided?
Marriage has always seemed like that thing other people did. People like my parents. And my friends’ parents. My old babysitters. Eventually some of my college friends. Most recently it claimed my sister.
My favorite movie describes it as “the big fade.” That has never sounded appealing. Kind of a scary thing to agree to.
There was one time I got close to it. Close enough to share closet space and go on walkthroughs of over-priced California ranches. But a house on a cul-de-sac in a planned development in Pleasanton didn’t quite fit my idea of my 26-year-old self. A tiny apartment with male roommates on Lombard Street seemed a bit more me. Even if I hated the dingy carpets. And the furniture.
Some nights I came home from work and would find the boys wearing Mexican wrestling masks and playing video games. It was a good feeling.
In truth, I liked being single. Even if sometimes I got a little lonely listening to the Cable Cars rattling up the North Beach hills from my bedroom. I flew alone. I joined my family for holidays alone. I went out with girlfriends alone. I came home alone. I woke alone. I ran alone. Did laundry alone. And occasionally wondered when I no longer would.
But there was something nice about only doing one load at the laundromat. Only folding my underwear. Reading while the washer rung out my jeans, wondering if a cute boy might pop in to do the same. And being okay with the fact that none ever did.
Eventually I moved out of the apartment on Lombard Street. Dave moved on first. He wanted his own bachelor pad. He needed his own space to grow up.
In the meantime, Emily and I looked for the perfect apartment. We found it in Pacific Heights. The last house on a dead end street near a park. My room was all bookshelves and closet space. I loved it. We called my mom to celebrate. She went online looking for wine racks. Then it was rented to someone else.
I settled on an apartment in the inner Richmond. It bordered Golden Gate Park. It had refinished hardwood floors, great afternoon light, and was located eight blocks from a boy who would change everything.
I emailed him asking for a safe bike route to the Caltrain station. He did one better. He arrived at my doorstep at 6:30 a.m. to lead the charge. And then he left me to figure out the route home. I had hoped he would be my bike sherpa at the end of the day, but he was confident I would be able to do it myself.
“If you get lost, just follow the other bikers,” he said. “They will most likely lead you to the Wiggle.” He was right.
I moved to Utah with him last year for a sabbatical from city life while he finishes grad school. A lot has changed in that year.
Last January 7, my dad learned his back pain was cancer. At the time I was spending the night in a shady hotel for truckers in Nevada while en route to my new home. I watched bad TV to stay awake, having no idea the news I would be told upon pulling into the driveway the next day.
I spent this January 7 in a yurt above Logan Canyon – knowing my dad was in remission, and my sister, pregnant with identical twins. It was the first time in three years my family appeared to be growing in size.
D and I snow shoed five miles up into the woods. Inside the yurt sleeping bags dangled from the ceiling and a wood-burning stove warmed the corner. Plastic bins were filled with cooking equipment and board games. A map explaining where and where not to pee was posted to the back of the door. We put our packs down and rolled out the sleeping bags. Home for a night.
After putting the food in storage containers, D pulled his jacket on, deciding it was time to explore the neighborhood. I looked around the yurt and decided to join him. I didn’t really want to be there by myself. Not because I was afraid, but because I already knew what was inside.
We surveyed the yard. We were surrounded by aspens. More aspens. And some pines. We headed for the ridge. A nearby peak poked through the clouds. Marriage finally caught up to me there.
When will it become official? Who knows. Where? No clue. But there will be an ice cream cake. And whiskey. And perhaps by the time the ceremony unfolds I will have figured out exactly what the word means. For now, I think, and I hope, it is just choosing to explore a new ridgeline with someone else.