My parents have been married for 32 years.
I remember reading an interview with Beverly Clearly, author of the Romona Quimby books, and finding it odd when she claimed to have written Dear Mr. Henshaw because two little boys with divorced parents told her there were no books or shows about kids with divorced parents.
Really? I wondered. Because it seems like everyone’s parents are divorced except mine.
I would later realize that I’m part of the beginnings of the divorced generation. These days there are very few societal pressures to keep you in an unhappy marriage. Half of all marriages end because of something besides death. I have simply never known a time where divorce wasn’t the norm. Sometimes I felt out of place because my parents were still together.
When my parents fought – and they did – I never considered the possibility of divorce with the same fear that I imagine kids in the 70′s or even 80′s did. I simply assumed that they would get divorced eventually. The thing is they never did – and I had no idea how incredibly awesome that was until an embarrassingly recent period in my life.
I watched Bridesmaids for the first time the other day. When it got to the scene where Officer Rhodes tried to surprise Annie with spread of ingredients to bake with, I started bawling. Like, Crying Wife bad.
|I thought we could bake together!|
My friend who was watching the movie with me asked why I was getting so emotional.
“Because,” I sniffled, “Look how happy he is to see her there!”
“He’s so happy she’s there and he knows that she bakes and so he did this really, really thoughtful thing and, oh my god, who even does that? I can’t. I can’t. This movie is like a goddamn fairytale!”
I also cried at the beginning when Annie and Lillian displayed their amazing, super close, sister like friendship.
a. I am prone to feeling lost, and
b. I am such a closet romantic and acts of kindness make me tear up.
I was always the person who jumped all in with reckless abandon. That said, I never did a fantastic job of picking relationships. The problem with jumping all in, though, is that you can’t exit the same way. I stayed relationships long after I should have called them off, resulting in missed or passed up opportunities and unsavory things I’m definitely not proud of. Besides, I had been serial dater, hopping from one relationship that ultimately didn’t work to another, to the tune of six years or so.
So when I broke off my last relationship, I told myself that I was going to take a break from dating and focus on myself. And I did. I tried to focus on making more female friends and establishing myself as an individual in Los Angeles. I went against all flowery, romantic instincts and told myself that I wouldn’t date again until I felt more financially secure, which I laugh about now because I’m an actor who hates waiting tables and is too old to get a bartending job without going to bartending school. I just had so much shit that I just had to prove to myself, thinking that everything would just magically fall into place once I did.
The day I first watched Bridesmaids happened to be Mom and Dad’s 32nd wedding anniversary. I called mom on the way to my friend’s house, where I was going to do laundry because I didn’t have the cash to do it at my place. I was feeling like a terrible adult. (Have I already brought up the fact that I really, really relate to Annie?)
My mom, sensing that I needed a pep-talk of some sort, told me about her life in her twenties and how she felt all over the place professionally, romantically, and how she and my dad ended up together.
Mom was married for what I like to call “a hot second” in her early twenties. She jokingly refers to it as her “starter marriage.”
I know a little bit about her first husband. I know he was a pilot and I know that he’s the father of my brother. Odd, because I have never considered my brother to be a half brother at all. Then again, I thought that my mom’s best friend was my actual aunt until I was about fifteen. That made for an awkward moment when her son tried to give me an imitation of the One Ring as a gift and I said,
“Dude. You know that we are cousins, right?”
The first marriage didn’t last and soon my mother was raising my older brother as a single mom in the 70′s. She worked as a waitress, a paralegal, and other kinds of odd jobs. Through the years and the hard times, she kept running into my dad and they casually dated. I don’t know what split them up, but there was one stretch of time where she hadn’t seen him in over a year when suddenly, out of nowhere, they ran into each other at a bar. Well, she spotted him first. She came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and he picked her up off the ground and spun her around upon recognizing her.
“Where have you been?” He asked.
They moved in together sometime thereafter and kind of assumed that they would eventually marry. There was no fancy proposal; just a comment one day that they should “set a date.”
I was surprised that the proposal wasn’t a tiny bit flashier, because I would have expected something like that for my mom, but she swears that’s how it went down. She and my dad were always opposites. She was liberal, he was conservative. She was artistic, he was grounded.
“It never should have worked,” she said, “but it did. And through all of the rough patches, the fights, and those moments where I had no clue if we’d make it, we pulled it together. Your dad is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was lost for a long time until it all came together. Sometimes you just have to trust that it will.”
I used to swear up and down that I didn’t want to be anything like my parents. Now that I have a wayward love life, a passion for a career that makes about as much sense as professional black jack, and a three year steady track record of surviving on odd jobs, I feel like I would give all kinds of things for a tiny bit of assurance that I might. At least a little bit.
I guess thirty two years and counting doesn’t lie.