Monday, November 29, 2004

Happiness is the Rubicon in the rearview mirror
After months of inexorable progress and weeks of "oh my god did I meet with the caterer"ing, I found myself standing on the stairs in a hundred year old house, opposite a beautiful woman in a burgundy dress with a smile to outshine the sun, surrounded by some of the most extraordinary people I've ever met, facing a man in a funny collar who asked some very hard questions. Will I have this woman to be my wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will I love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as I both shall live?

Will I? Can I? How much sickness? What if she's in a wheelchair? We'd need a new house; the hallway's too narrow for a wheelchair, and how could we afford it if she wasn't working? Keep her? What's that supposed to mean? I couldn't keep the last one, and I thought I knew what I was doing then, so how am I supposed to keep Christie if she changes her mind and doesn't want to be kept? And what about my mind? What if it changes? What then? Can I? Should I? Will I? Will we? Should I be here? Do I deserve her? Is this a mistake?

If you've read the recent comment threads, you'll know there's at least one anonymouse out there who thinks it is, that we're doomed. What can I say? That's one smart mouse. Of course we're doomed. We didn't promise to stay together forever, we promised to have and to hold "until we are parted by death". That's not what I'd call the promise of a happy ending. In fact, it's just the opposite, and I know plenty of widows and widowers who'll testify to the truth of that promise. Life and marriage both come with an expiration date, and if we're lucky, one of us will get to watch the other die.

And of course this is a mistake. Everything I've ever done is a mistake, an attempt at perfection that missed the mark, followed by an overcorrection, then another, a zigzagging course of overcompensations leading obliquely toward an unseen destination or, more likely, away from some pain I can't quite remember, wandering across a landscape more intuited than seen.

I sometimes wish I were smarter, so I could see clearly the implications of my choices, anticipate my mistakes, and avoid the consequences. But even the finite world of a chessboard produces a decision tree with more branches than my head can hold, and I end up frozen, staring into space, looking for the safest path, and finding none until I lose patience and throw my knight into combat, where he is improbably dispatched by, of all things, a bishop. I am, as you might guess, a lousy chess player.

Life, thank god, is not chess, and Christie's no horse-headed piece of resin. She's the smartest, sanest, funniest, sexiest person I know, and I'm happier with her by my side than I have ever been. Do I see that changing? As a matter of fact, I do. Every day, I'm a little happier than the day before, and a little more sure. But I'm never 100% sure of everything, and this is not a question that can be answered with, "Um, yeah, probably so." I've maneuvered myself into a yes or no corner, and, teetering on the steps, I've got to make an answer.

Reader, I married her.

Pictures to follow.

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