Marriage. The loaded word that creeps up behind you, beside you, in front of you, and leaves your head spinning. For some, marriage is the dream come true. The little girls that grew up dreaming of the white dress, the boys that grew up knowing that someday they needed to settle down. The people that fall madly in love and believe with all of their hearts that marriage is not only the next logical step in a society that tells them so, but the key to their eternal salvation. For some, marriage is the fairy tale idea that loneliness will never find you again. It’s the romantic climax.
But for others, like me, marriage is dangerous. It is a threat. It is the poison of a world full of lies and scandal. Marriage has never been something I was interested in. The cliche here would be to say that it is because I saw marriages crumble before me, and sure, I have. I remember begging my grandfather to dance with and kiss my grandmother, in hopes that it would prove their love. My little eyes gazed up at them, obliging my innocent wishes, but I could spot the deception even then. I have seen divorce, yes, but I have also see the other side. Couples that stay together out of a loyalty long faded. Two people that have become toxic to one another; poisoning not just themselves, but their children along the way. The years spent fighting in dark corners of the house; a decade or two of beating each other down until all that is left is the fear of walking away. I look around and see people that once stood so tall, now cowering, after years and years of subtle defeat at the hands of their life partner. The one person you vowed never to hurt on that beautiful wedding day, so full of promise, is now the person you cannot even sleep next to anymore.
I have been a mistress; sleeping with married men and women (knowingly and not) that no longer felt that wedding-day spark. It is easy to make promises with those rose colored glasses, but ten or twenty years down the road, animal instinct kicks in. Monogamy is a game that I chose not to play; it is unnatural. The promises of eternity leave me with disgust; how can you promise forever, when there is no way of knowing? At the bar, the married doesn’t even bother slipping his ring off anymore. Please, begs his eyes, I am lonely. The man that flies you to him, for a taste of that forbidden fruit … before sliding into bed with his wife hours later. The woman that begs you to release her from the man that barely even looks at her anymore. The circumstances change, but the story is always the same. They do not want to leave their partner, but they are unfulfilled. Sparks fade, desires die. And all that marriage turns out to be is a crumpled piece of paper that made you feel like a normal member of society. Sure, you have them by your side, but is it worth it?
My mind was made up long ago; if I met someone that I wanted to be with longer than most, I would find my own way to commit myself to them. The only promise would be today; today I love you, today I want to make silly plans of our future, today I want to be with you forever. I would make no vows, sign no papers, put on that stupid dress and walk down an aisle in a wedding that cost more than a house. I would not ever look into another human beings eyes and swear my undying faithfulness. It would be romantic, yes, but we would both be lying. You cannot promise forever.
Eventually, my distaste for marriage subsided. I quit putting it down at the weddings I attended, and I quit trying to talk friends out of it. I saw the hype, and became happy for people that still believed. But when I look in the mirror, I see the person that could never do it. The indecisive girl that backs away from commitment; the curious woman that sees bodies pass her and wonders what they are like in bed; the person that does not trust herself. I lose control shamefully easily, and for that reason alone, marriage would not fit me. Sometimes I let myself dream of the idea; the ring, the intimate wedding, the vows. It is romantic and it is easy to get swept up in the notion. But when the sunlight hits, and I glance into that mirror, the thoughts fade. I want to be that person, sometimes I want it so badly that it hurts, but I am not her. How could I promise forever to you, when I can’t even promise tomorrow to myself?
I find myself stuck; teetering on the edge of two girls. Do I stay where I am, absolving myself of the commitment? Keeping myself grounded in the safe place I have built for myself? Or do I lean to where I am being pulled? Taking a chance hardly seems appropriate when it comes to something like this. What if it doesn’t work? I have been in love; envisioning futures with wonderful men … but the second I saw that ring, or heard the mention of that word, my bags were packed and I was out the door.
What if I am right? What then? An unhappy life together, divorce? Years wasted living a life that I knew I was not meant for? I think what scares me the most, is knowing that I would be capable of shattering someones life. Of hurting them in the worst possible way, and having to look them in the eyes afterward. Or learning of their infidelity. Cheating doesn’t seem so bad until there are rules involved; and those rules seem very easily broken.
But what if I am wrong? What if I am capable of loving and being loved in that way? What if I could be one of the ones that holds her lovers hand forty years down the marriage road? What if. What if.
And that possibility right there scares me most of all.