What prompted all this was a remark by Siobhan:

"[Y]eah, I want to get married. BEFORE I'm thirty. And I'm sick to death of this pervasive attitude that that's somehow some kind of unliberated thing that only right-wing Republicans do.... A marriage is what you make it, and to me, it's a statement that says, "I love this person and I am willing to make a few sacrifices in order to show it." Marriages aren't religious edicts anymore; they're not two people in the sight of God making promises for all eternity anymore. Marriages are an agreement entered into by two people to share the load: the shit and the joy, the hell and the heaven, the pitfalls and the triumph. And dammit, I want that."

The instinct, of course, is to gasp, "Cripes, you're only twenty-seven! Live a little already." And I'm snarky enough to point out that while half of all marriages end in divorce, the other half end in death. But that's not what's at issue here. Nor is it, I suspect, the inexorable ticking of the biological clock.

Still, something is ticking here, and it's the pace of our lives, ever faster, never placid, no time for anything that someone might construe as waste. The New York minute has become the standard in Florida and France and, for all I know, in Fiji. And so what she is saying, it seems to me, is simply "If I have to ride this freaking roller coaster, I want someone with me. Is that too much to ask?"

I don't know. Maybe it is for some of us. And I admit up front that I never did quite understand all that "until death us do part" stuff. It might have made sense in a time when the average life expectancy was about twenty-seven, but today it seems more sentence than sentiment; too often the miraculous solidifies into a millstone. But there's something awfully compelling about "forever" as a concept, and for those rare moments in our lives when everything is going the way we always heard it should be, "forever" becomes more than a concept: it becomes our marching orders. One's first love is a source of wonder, but one's last love is the source of strength. Even for right-wing Republicans. And dammit, I want that.

The Vent

9 August 2001

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 Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill