How do I know when, how, and why to get married?
Who’s Boomer, you ask?
Mr. Gefilte asks me that on a weekly basis.
The short answer is, he was a sweet guy from my writing/drinking group back in the days before I got married. The things I remember about him are that he knew how to throw back a few beers and write stories about father-son strife. I didn’t know Boomer well. Certainly not well enough to invite him to my wedding. But I did. That picture is his signature on the non-denominational-but-mostly-Quaker pact Mr. Gefilte and I had everyone sign at our nuptials.
The longer answer is this: There is no definitive WHEN, HOW or WHY. Boomer represents all the glory, mystery and heartache of marriage.
I love that Mr. Gefilte and I have this agreement hanging in our home. It was written and designed by a beloved aunt, and it basically says we promise to stick by each other through the shit storms and the new sunrises. (Its much more poetically worded than that.) There are many different versions of this kind of marriage contract:
-The Jewish ketubah.
-The Islamic nikah.
-The traditional vows from various religions typed up with pretty pictures.
Ours was cobbled together from a few different texts so it was inclusive of different beliefs, and then everyone at our wedding added their names as witnesses.
Boomer’s name is definitely the biggest of the group, which I find hilarious and oddly comforting. As I said, I didn’t know him well. I haven’t spoken to him since that day. I think I invited my whole writing group because I needed to know who my community of support was. I was so scared marriage would cut me off from friendships and reality and whoever I was before saying “I do.”
You know who else’s signature is on that agreement?
Nick came with his girlfriend, Danielle. They were good friends of ours, actually. They were living together and I thought they were headed to the altar soon too. But apparently, after seeing the way Mr. Gefilte and I gazed into each other’s eyes, Nick decided that he needed to break up with Danielle. On the dance floor. Some time between the drunken toasts and the cake.
Just for perspective, I was pretty sure all my eyes emanated that day was terror. And we did have two friends hook up that night and move in together soon afterwards, so maybe the love quotient evens out.
The third signature I love to gaze at is my niece’s. She was just 6 years old and was very proud of getting both sides of her “A” to meet at the top. That same niece is now getting ready for prom and has a much nicer rack than I ever did. Which proves:
-A wedding day is just like any other day, really. A blip in time.
-Proms are great incentives for learning to write.
-We all must evolve–whether in pairs, posses, or solo.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Bewildered, this is why I think the question you ask is so wise and unanswerable.
Marriage is a promise to be there for tomorrow and the next day and the next day, even though we have no idea what those days will bring. And in many ways, we don’t know who we will be.
I don’t want to totally disappoint you with my non-response. So here goes.
I say wait at least until you’re 25. It’s been proven scientifically that the human brain doesn’t fully mature until then. For gefiltes, multiply by five and carry the one.
In a box, with a fox, on a train, in the rain.
Doesn’t matter. Just get a pact of some sort and invite Boomer so you have witnesses.
Aye, there’s the rub, huh?
Because you dare to look into his/her eyes and feel her/him looking back at you.
Because you want to make a family and so does s/he, and you know s/he will be a great parent.
Because what else are you gonna do on a Saturday night?
Because you feel calm, aroused, peaceful, annoyed, loud, daring, beautiful, and at home with this person.
Because he may lose his hair and his job. She may start drinking or stop thinking. Both of you will get creaky and cranky. He’ll see you gasp for air and push out a baby. If you’re lucky you’ll get matching packs of adult diapers. And it still feels like a fun idea.
By the way, you get extra credit for not asking WHO?
Who is really just the parsley on top, isn’t it? I think it’s so insightful that you are focusing on your own readiness. It’s much easier to fixate on whomever is offering you the shiny ring or next big adventure. It’s much harder to look at yourself in that mirror before you doggy paddle down the aisle and see the you of today.
The you who is promising to love and nurture the you of tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
With love and schmaltz,
Have a question for Gefilte? Send it to email@example.com, and you might just get an answer.