But most purely good things sound sappy in description — a kind of punishment, maybe, for insisting on confining goodness in words.
– Wreck and Order, Hannah Tennant-Moore
I grew up in an age where divorce was becoming normalized. I had elementary school friends who spoke in hushed voices between lectures and at the cafeteria table of terrible, all-out fights between parents in the wee hours of the morning. Of irrefutable tension in car rides. Of dreams of two Christmases instead of a tenuously peaceful one. These friends usually became the ones in later high school or college years detailing divorce proceedings over smuggled spiked lemonades or half-drunk bottles of wine.
I, however, knew nothing of this life. In fact, my initial representation of love was the complete opposite. It was so startling to those who were experiencing the most raw decay of a marriage to hear my parents talk on the phone to each other in what bordered on baby-speech that I often had to explain that yes, that is my mother talking to my father. The look on their faces was often one of disgust and yet genuine curiosity.
My parents’ marriage — and their entire love story — has been one of American fairy tales. They grew up mere miles from each other, attending rival high schools but never meeting until intramural volleyball their first year in university. My mother, more concerned with upperclassmen boys, wouldn’t give my father the time of day. My father still remembers what she was wearing the first time he saw her. Their lives divulged for about eighteen months, during which time each lost a parent and felt the pain of loss. When my mom was friends with his roommates during third year at uni, she forced my father to walk with her from their shared class. My father at this time knew of her ex-boyfriends — one in particular — and judged her by her lack of taste in men. (Oh, how the tables have turned.) Finally, after one fateful night of talking about their losses and about life, they decided to give dating a try. They made a thirty day contract.
They renewed it for two years of dating and thirty years of marriage.
Everyone can roll their eyes that this is a simplified version of events, or that this is just family lore, but I’ll take that. I’ll take the opportunity to believe in true love, that a soulmate does exist. Because most days I don’t feel like it does. That’s my youth and my jadedness speaking though. I only have to look back at my parents and the model they gave me to know that there is hope.
So here’s to thirty years, Wendy & Dan. May your love inspire the world, or just those lucky enough to enter your orbit. Love you lots.