19 (Day 214, year 2)

Nineteen years ago, I emerged from the church with the lovely title of Mike's wife (not Mrs. Adkins, I made the minister, who was very resistant, yet fearful of me, announce us as the new Mr. and Mrs. and I hyphenated my name).  I was just an hour married. Everyone was sweating around us. One of our groomsmen nearly fainted from the heat (he was from Ohio, it's colder there I guess). 

I, on the other hand, never felt so comfortable in my life, even in my corset and gown and brushed gold shoes that pinched my toes and updo and tiara and veil that pinched my head and makeup that was 7 layers deep. I remember asking Mike if he was warm and he said he was fine. 

Me, I felt fine, too. I also felt exactly and completely like myself. 

That's what the right marriage does, I think. It is does not make you a new person; even though there is that lovely quote from John Steinbeck "When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you've got two new people." I don't really believe that at all (even though the quote is lovely!)  I think when two people meet and then commit and marry, they should be completely and exactly themselves while loving the other one for being completely and exactly themselves. Life changes us, I suppose, but our partners should not. I think our matches give us the space to be our truest self. And maybe that's the change Steinbeck was talking about; the change from fake to real.  

Or maybe he was talking about the simple ways we try to do better for each other. Mike is really good at always trying to do better for us. Of course, that's who he is, someone who always wants to do better for others. It is not that he is entirely selfless, it is just that he is hardwired to try hard for the people he loves. He does this with service--fixing this and cleaning that and worrying about this and that.  I am clumsier with this stuff and that's just who I am. But, I am fiercely loyal, sometimes demanding and then other times irrationality not and endlessly forgiving (often of myself, to his irritation). We've both always been these ways and it makes us fit together--his sense of duty and hard work with my loyalty and demands. 

And I don't want anyone to think I am making a case for why we fit together perfectly; because the truth is we don't fit together perfectly. He is better at pacing himself and I am sprinting to the finish, only to collapse for days. I am not much of a worrier; and he is, except when I am worried, he automatically and maddeningly is not. 

Perfect fitting things have no place in love and commitment. If we looked for perfect fits like it was made for us, kind of love, we will end up alone, because perfect romantic love simply does not exist. People are so messy and clumsy and stupid and prone to make terrible mistakes.  I believe perfect mismatches do exist--in the marvelous way you can mix a floral and a stripe and end up with something interesting, beautiful and out of the ordinary. 

And I think that "perfectly" describes these 19 years of marriage--the perfect mismatch of two people, who love and forgive one another (even when it is illogical) and wake up everyday to do it all again, while dressed in fabulous clothes (sometimes. Sometimes we are dressed as the exhausted suburban parents that we are.). 

Happy 19th Anniversary, to my husband Mike.