Jan 23 • 3M

A secret providence

The wedding industrial complex is designed (like everything else) to make us miserable! Happy anniversary to me and my friend here! Also a blessing.

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a bi-weekly reading of a beloved poem or excerpt from my bedside table, accompanied by a few stray thoughts and, on occasion, work in progress.
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On the morning of our wedding I woke up at 5am weeping. That was seven years ago, tomorrow.

I was certain something would go wrong. For all the planning I didn't want to do but did, because it was, I thought, what I was supposed to do;

for all the spreadsheets distilled into handwritten to-do lists, rewritten repeatedly by hand because this was, I thought, how everyone needed me—obsessive, meticulous, rigorous to the point of inelegance, always a little bit mad, ever the martyr nobody asked for;

for all the energy and attention I threw into organizing a big stupid party I didn't think I even cared about, I was entirely convinced that something would fray and fall apart, and the day would be forever marred by the collective memory of my failure to meet my truly insane fantasy of everyone's expectations of me, terrified that when inevitably minor catastrophe struck, all our friends and family would know what I had long suspected:

I was a goddamn disaster and loving me was a foolish proposition. And they could tell because I didn't want a wedding cake.

I have since done lots of therapy.

Seven years of marriage is maybe not terribly meaningful in and of itself, aside from the miracle of living with anyone for any amount of time, given the impossible task of it. How poorly we're prepared for love. Spacious, generous, fearless love. How poorly we're prepared for conflict, which on this planet—and I have to imagine all the other ones, too—is unavoidable.

The thing about vows is they’re only words.

We've managed to stay married, even having seriously considered not doing that, having decided in the earliest spring of 2020 to separate, only to find actual separation impossible with the onset of a world-altering pandemic and ensuing lockdown blocking the exit door, and having—in that brief period of living in the in-between—stumbled upon a new hypothesis:

that marriage is less a matter of certainty than a site of possibility. That the question— what does it mean to be loving today?—is infinitely more interesting than a prescribed set of domestic roles and responsibilities, or a doomed promise that we'll never fail each other. That when we do fail each other we might try to be kinder, wiser, bigger than before, we can try anyway. We can try. That if we find ourselves on any day unfed, unsatisfied with the deal we've made, we could renegotiate.

What does it mean to be loving today?
We could build a home here.

I did not know this when I woke up weeping almost seven years ago. I did not know much of anything (still true). But I thought I knew the important stuff: how to fix the vintage typewriter when the ribbon grew too slack. Which old books belonged stacked on which tables so their intended recipient might find them. The exact time and sequencing of the day's main events and side missions, what my new husband should say to my grandmother in Spanish upon offering her a yellow rose. How to relax my face into a photo-ready smile by saying "hi" and pushing my tongue against my two front teeth. God this is exhausting. How much I've thought I've known, how much other people’s urgency and expectations—real and imagined—have compelled me to be cruel to me, how much I've thought my worth and worthiness were directly proportionate to what I knew and how much I could manage without once saying help me, please, I need help. I cannot do this alone.

I know nearly nothing and also I know:

I’d rather be held than right and righteous.
I'd rather be with than only.

So I am. It could change, any time, for infinite reasons within and beyond my control. We do not live in a safe or certain world.

We hope each day to manage loving.
This feels like more than enough.

Here's the blessing Ryan read on the day of our wedding, which was, in the end, a great goddamn party. The typewriter broke. No one cared about cake. I danced my dress to death and went to bed at 5am weeping, loving, loved. Blessed.


Blessing for Longing
by John O’Donohue

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging—in love, creativity, and friendship—
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which the divine longs for you.