Monday, October 6, 2008

Crazy Eights

Tomorrow will mark the eight anniversary of my marriage. As I sit here typing with my son Jake seeking my attention, it is clear that I have much to be thankful for.

It hasn't been easy. Both of us are headstrong and stubborn, opinionated, and damaged to the extent that the chips we carry on our respective narrow shoulders will be there indefinitely. We have had joyous moments and have also left bars in separate cabs, vowing never to speak to one another again. And this was after seeing a joyous, romantic film, designed to inspire what a student once called "The precoital, seductive, mating, coupling dance." There has been great conversation amidst wine and candles, and loud arguments soaked in beer and garnished with the sight of two fourtysomethings dualling verbally in their underwear. Still, we will celebrate our eighth in traditional bronze and lace tomorrow, and will recount hopefully the best of times instead of the worst. Marriage and fatherhood are huge commitments and I have not always been up to the task emotionally. To my credit, I have changed a thousand diapers and have been knee deep in everything from snow to vomit and shit. I worked two jobs at one time, forsaking my business casual clothes for the uniform of a bookstore clerk, humbly answer questions about mediocre authors and selling bad romance novels to pleasant but lonely people. I have read stories, given baths, and watched hours of children's television programming aimed at primitive preschool Id-driven philosophy and geared to satisfy governments who want to leave no child behind. Still, I realize I could be a better husband and father. I wish I made more money and had fewer tantrums. I wish I could listen to my wife a little more and not provide advice she may not want in the first place.

I guess I am a product of my time, a man not raised to be loyal to King, Country, or even the company I work for. Raised during the "me generation", I have spent years worshipping at my own alter, seeking nirvana at the expense of the other monks around me. I am not alone. I am surrounded my many who are divorced or still single, holding their ideal mate to standards they would not ever meet themselves.
I see them in cafes, copping free internet time while their lattes cool, hoping their chat buddy is really only thirty-five, has no current attachment, and whose "few extra pounds" does not mean they need two seats on a flight. I hear stories of dating nightmares and boyfriends more concerned about the size of their pectoral muscles than imagining their significant other romantically naked in the moonlight. I see little sacrifice and a lot of self-justification, with an entire culture of magazines and films set to capitalize on those lonely people who need to be reinforced that their choice to go solo can be hip and cool, and will not lead them to be found ultimately sprawled dead on a couch surrounded by two dozen well-fed, indifferent cats in a filthy apartment.

I guess it all comes down to a willingness to abandon the status quo. Two people can remain perpetually interesting to one another if they allow themselves to grow and take on new challenges. In the past few months I have started this blog, lost seventeen pounds, and am learning how to juggle plates, albeit not successfully. I am watching my son learn how to swim and understand the rudimentary rules of music. My wife for her part is planning to return to school and has made a short film. It may not cut down on taxi cab rides and beer runs at the depanneur, but the ensuing conversation, once sobriety reappears, will be certainly more interesting.

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