Us

Ten years ago today, Brook and I were married; the lovely but very short event (15 minutes!) took place in the beautiful, 70s-style concrete wedding chambers at Toronto City Hall. It was windy and a bit snowy and more than a little cold that day; I had bronchitis or the flu or something and was slightly dislocated from my own brain. We took a cab downtown together after spending a relaxing morning at home reading fat novels; after the ceremony, we took 25 or so of our favourite people to the now sadly defunct Fressen/Grasslands, the only really good fancy vegan restaurant in the city. It was a good day.

And today is a good day, too. We have a happy marriage; my husband is my best friend, my love, my best thing. Still, “happiness” doesn’t cover it. There is an awfulness to tying your life to someone else’s this way; I mean that in the older, more sublime sense, of course. If ever there was work that ought to be called sacred, it is making a family where there wasn’t one before. We are by no means a family that everyone would recognize as such–our 5 cats and 1 bunny are the only children we’ll ever have–but what we have is exactly everything I want the word to mean.

Real family takes a lot of work, but I love this work. Marriage has taught me that if you don’t love someone for precisely who they are, right now, you don’t love them; I’ve found that there is absolutely no room for no-fly zones in a marriage, that willingness to talk truthfully about everything is necessary; and I’ve found that little, everyday kindnesses contains worlds more power than the most romantic gestures.

Or maybe it’s that every moment is a lifelong romance in little, if only we’re awake to notice it. We had this poem, by 13th-century Persian mystic Rumi, read at our wedding and reading it again now feels no less revelatory:

A moment of happiness,

you and I sitting on the verandah,

apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.

We feel the flowing water of life here,

you and I, with the garden’s beauty

and the birds singing.

The stars will be watching us,

and we will show them

what it is to be a thin crescent moon.

You and I unselfed, will be together,

indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.

The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar

as we laugh together, you and I.

In one form upon this earth,

and in another form in a timeless sweet land.

I never wanted a timeless sweet land until I realized that a lifetime with my love was in no way enough.

Let me tell you about the moment I fell arse over teakettle in love with my husband: We’d been dating barely 2 months when I saw a photo of 16-year-old him at his mother’s house; it was his smile that got me. His real smile, one I hadn’t actually seen in the flesh yet, but which still makes everything make sense.

That's the smile.
There it is.

Forever and forever and forever.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Stefanie says:

    Happy anniversary! Loved your thoughts on marriage! After 24 years of my own marriage I can say yes yes and yes to everything you mention! Have a lovely celebration with your best friend 🙂

    1. Colleen says:

      Thank you! Congrats on your own, much longer lived, marital bliss as well! 🙂

  2. jeanne says:

    sublimely sweet; you had me at “concrete wedding chambers”. happy anniversary.

    1. Colleen says:

      Thank you! I forgot to mention the fake flowers adorning the concrete wedding chambers…

  3. A very belated happy anniversary Colleen. I’m way behind in my blog rounds. This is a lovely post. You are a wise person.

    1. Colleen says:

      Thank you! I don’t know if I’m wise; I’m certainly very fortunate. 🙂

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