“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.” -- as quoted in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge
There is a photograph on my desk of me and my mother on my wedding day. I'm wearing my mother's Danish grandmother's big pearls -- which she swears I lost (I didn't) -- and my just-off-the-shoulder off-white dress, with tiny organza roses stitched into the neckline. My mother is in a pale blue silk suit which she had made for her by a seamstress in Oxford. She is so young. It was 23 years ago, so she was 52. She looks 35. She is skinny and beautiful and I remember that the silly photographer had asked her to fix my hair, just for the photograph, something she'd never dream of doing, so she has one hand up to my hair and we both have goofy grins on our faces, standing against my bedroom window, the sky background bleached out by the sun. There are no rings on my finger, just the white band left by the absence of my engagement ring.
My mother didn't have a big church wedding and although she says she doesn't regret it, I wonder if that's the case. Little girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day. This morning my daughter asked me if the bride pay for the bridesmaid's dresses or whether they pay for their own. Quite frankly, I don't remember, I say. It seems such a long time ago.
|Gosling & Williams (via the New Yorker)|
Blue Valentine is an effective movie (starring the marvelous Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) which charts the evolution and eventual breakdown of a marriage. Interestingly, even till the end, one can't be sure if it's just one more fight or if it is the end. What exactly will it take to end a marriage? What is the thing that is too much to bear? It's heartbreaking to watch Williams' character recoil in disgust as her husband tries to take her in his arms, her hands balled into fists, the grimace on her face. Anthony Lane's thoughtful review is here. He's right, it's hard to watch.
The Maharishi and I have grown up together, so tightly entwined, like ivy on an oak tree (not that either one of us represents a parasite, but it is, pictorially at least, an interesting allegory) that I sometimes wonder which is which and what is what and how it's possible to protect our selves (read: selfs). Certainly the principles of cause and effect can be witnessed up close and personal in the heart of our house. I don't like it when he's sick, even though I rather enjoy the endless pots of soup I have on the stove, the carrying of the jugs of water, the flowers I want to put everywhere (it's nearly spring, time for daffodils and hyacinths to cheer up the house from its winter fugue), the straightening of the bed, the feeling useful of it all. No, I don't like it because it scares me when he's not himself. I don't like the fragility of sickness, the lack of humor it brings (to all of us, not just the sickies), the great, weighty way it sits in the house devouring everything. I want to fling open all the windows, push the air through, set up beds in the garden under the trees where the acacia is peeking through. I'd like a great, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-sized bellows that pumps in fresh oxygenated air, and the scent of jasmine and narcissus, and birdsong too. I want to talk about chickens and raised beds and what to plant for the summer. I want to see him smiling again, the way he did when they got back from Japan, with that inspired abandon you only get from being in a new place.
I wonder why there aren't more books written about marriage. It's where the worlds collide.
PS. Now that Christmas is over, the pharmacy is full of knick-knackery portending to the next holiday on the Hallmark calendar: Valentine's Day. Bad chocolates, heart-shaped things and pink teddy bears line the shelves; lest we get stuck in our lives, the giant wave of consumer holidays sweeps us along whether we like it or not.