We had a few friends last night to mark the occasion, including Rad and Nae, who have the distinction of being our “first friends.” Nae and I kept each other company for many months before other spouses arrived or appeared and our circle began to expand. We spent some hours talking over the first year in Mexas, and what the second might bring, after everyone else went to bed.
So, with the events of the last week, and with a late night on the front stoop despite temperatures that dropped into the mid 40s, I’ve been thinking of a question all Mexas residents ask themselves on many occasions, and which becomes especially poignant on commemorative events like yesterday:
Is it worth it?
Friends are the family you get to choose. I don’t know how to sound profound rather than petty when I say this, so I’ll just lay it out there: I have more friends today, this very day, than I have had in the rest of my life. The entire rest of my life. Never really needed them before, never really valued them before; I always had family for friends.
Learning how to maintain friendships (rather than scrap them pretty quickly, which is what I used to do) with a wide variety of people, and realizing that I can depend on some of them as I would on family, has been as epic as the growing up you do when learning how to navigate high school, without all the ridiculousness.
Pain is weakness leaving the body. I make fun of Hubs when he says it, because he’s a GI Joe, but it’s ultimately true, though not as simple as it sounds. It was a tough year, but we are better, faster, stronger because of it. Maybe a more accurate statement would be that which does not kill us makes us stronger. When you get out of a fight, even if you’re missing a leg, you know more than you did when you went in. And that knowledge bolsters you.
Kung-fu masters punch things repeatedly, hard, to build up the callouses in their knuckles. You don’t just get better at dealing with the initial difficulty. You become able to take on new, more difficult (and therefore more rewarding) quests as a direct result of experiencing pain.
If love is blind, marriage restores sight. This statement is usually snarky and caustic, the result of bitter discoveries. But it doesn’t have to be (guess where I’m going with this).
I’m discovering (due mostly to this year’s momentousness) that the person I married is better than I initially thought. That’s pretty intense when I remember how stupid “in-luv” I was when we first met, and even when we got married. We’re phasing out of the honeymoon stage, and it’s actually sinking in that I married a real person, not a Ken doll (imagine my surprise…). What an awesome thing to realize that the trust I’ve put in Hubs is not only well-founded but has already been returned, with interest, a million times over.
C.S. Lewis made reference to onions (I have a point) several times in his writing. One of my favorites is when he talks about “the real” as something like an onion, with layers upon layers as you get deeper, but layers that get bigger instead of smaller. We’re only two years into our marriage, but that whole reverse-onion thing seems to be how it’s shaping up. You old farts can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (it’s ok, I know I’m not).
The two become one. This was true the day we were married (and it ties in to the previous realization). But the past year has made it true for the rest of my life. I would love to be more descriptive, and explain exactly what I mean, but I just can’t.
My husband has become my other half, in better, worse, and all else. I feel like epic music should be playing as you watch a clip of some volatile metals fusing together, because that’s kind of what it feels like. The kind of bond we have today was formed with blood, toil, sweat, and tears (with plenty of good quotes thrown in). When you’re starting out, no one tells you (in a way that sticks, plenty of people say it) that this is what marriage, real marriage, is made of. If you go into marriage with your eyes open, you know it’s going to be hard. But you never realize how, or what kind of hard, it’s going to be.
In fact when I really marinate on this year, whatever has happened, I always ultimately come back to my marriage. Not my job or my friends or my figure or any other of a million things that have changed. Always always always it comes back to husband and wife. When we’re old and senile, rocking on the front porch, shaking our fists at punk kids, we’ll look back on this year as the keystone, the year that proved whether or not we could make it.
To know that… it’s worth it.
“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” -Joseph Barth
Also, you know how I know this year is going to be even better and more epic than the last? I’ll break it down for you: