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.
Forever and forever and forever.