Against the current

Bramhall Square
By CAITLIN SHETTERLY  |  August 1, 2007

I’ve come to marriage like a fish beating against a tidal stream I’ve found myself in and never expected. I didn’t think I’d get married — in fact before I met Cowboy I thought it wasn’t important. My parents being divorced and the time I took to examine marriage and divorce in both my college thesis and, later, a book, proved to me that marriage, from where I sat, was an unimportant convention that brought, to my mind, more hurt and pain in an inevitable rupture than what the alternative might be, which was taking less risk and coming to terms with being alone.

And now, as I sit on this precipice, ready to commit before whatever presence one might describe as God and more than a hundred people, I feel scared that this plunge is terribly foolhardy, full of weight and risk, full of importance I cannot even put my finger on because I don’t yet know what it is.

But it’s wedding season and I should lighten up. I should have some champagne and decide this is fun — which in many ways it is. This past weekend three close friends said their vows, to only one of which, due to schedules and the fact that one was in France, I was able to bear witness. But as my friends move into the phase where they take a deep breath, accept what they’ve done, and begin their lives anew as a married couple, I’m still in a flight pattern that seems to involve many lists, a house that is not quite clean and won’t be before the wedding, lots of anxiety and pressures from members of the family (why didn’t someone call it Momzilla? Forget about the bride!), and a flighty, jumpy about-to-cry anxious feeling in my breast that just won’t let up.

Some sense of grounding comes during my yoga class, but not much, as I find that quieting my mind, never a task I excelled at, is almost impossible as I make lists of whom to call and when, ask myself if I was sure to order the organic local beef in all the quantities that’s needed, and whether the wine and food and the flowers and my dress are all in the right place on the assembly line and whether I still feel like trying — and maybe failing at — wearing my high heels as I walk down a long stretch of field toward the man who will become my husband. Falling is, of course, possible — as well as getting stuck and having to yank my foot out of sod. A vainer woman might mind more ... but somehow, to me, changing course with anything at this point seems like it might bring more problems than successes, which brings me back to my fish in the stream.

And then there’s the money. The oozing panicking reality of money that’s just pouring out of our shirts, coats, and pockets everywhere. There’s this constriction at my throat as the huge financial strain feels like it might choke me. What an odd convention — a wedding — which has become so expensive in our culture, so unmanageable with people putting it all on credit cards, getting themselves in debt to pay for a moment, a blink of an eye, really. And yet. There has to be something bigger here. A bigger meaning, a bigger reason to pay for this for the next ten years which makes sense — or will make sense the day after my wedding.

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    When trying to come up with a few words to commemorate Russell Libby, the former executive director of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, who died in December at the age of 56, my first thought was: What could I possibly offer which is not already present in my father's stunning portrait?
  •   MRS.  |  September 05, 2007
    Reader, I married Cowboy.
  •   GET READY, GET SET...  |  August 15, 2007
    That’s just some male fantasy about virginity. It’s totally archaic.
  •   AGAINST THE CURRENT  |  August 01, 2007
    I’ve come to marriage like a fish beating against a tidal stream.
  •   WEDDING MARCH  |  July 18, 2007
    Bridezillas, anyone?

 See all articles by: CAITLIN SHETTERLY