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!”
“So?”
“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.

I actually cried a lot during Bridesmaids in general. I was also coming down with what I think was the worst fever I’ve had in over four years, but that’s neither here nor there. I think. I’m still recovering. I think it’s because:

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.

See also: My mother: the great, red headed, southern badass.

9 comments

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18309788808214689569 Tristachio

    My parents have been married that same amount of time. My dad proposed in the far snowy tundra of Canada one night while they were watching television. He said “We should get married” during one commercial, and my mom called her parents during the next commercial. ROMANCE!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15715933879509916904 Jas

      Aha! So that plot element WAS grounded in real life! I knew it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06305819468688952368 vicki

    Good story. Maybe a writing career?

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15715933879509916904 Jas

      I’m certainly trying!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01729910232551290015 Susan

    My parents divorced after 35 years, which I thought was kind of silly, because what’s the point after all that time?

    Oh, and I’m a waitress. I’ll be 30 next month. That was kind of by choice, though.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15715933879509916904 Jas

      Wow! After 35 years? There’s a story right there. I hope everything turned out/is going well for them.

      I’m jealous, actually. I wish that I could be a waitress. Maybe it’s the restaurants I’ve worked at (two had no POS system at all and then the other was super, super corporate and we had to dish out 40% of our tips at the end of every shift) but I feel like I’m so terrible at it. Are you an artist, too?

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01729910232551290015 Susan

      Everything is going well for them, actually. They still spend holidays with the kids together… so, for example, at Christmas dinner, I’m surrounded by my brother, my nieces, my mom, my dad… and my dad’s girlfriend, who gossips and discusses books with my mom. Some people think it’s weird, but that’s the family for me.

      Holy shit, 40%?? My restaurant is corporate, too. I’m not really an artist — I was a technical writer for years, and I left working in a cubicle to be a waitress. I’d love to be a professional writer again, though. I chronicle it here: fromcubicletokitchen.blogspot.com. All about waitressing and why I left my $40K/year salary to sling chicken wings.

      You might remember me from The Park Ave. Pub blog (theparkavepub.blogspot.com). I felt I couldn’t write for that anymore because of “censorship” at my cubicle job. Just one of the reasons that I left… :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17497259670266676749 Lindsay Spurka

    I don’t think I really could have related if I hadn’t gone to this wedding. On the day of, I was a bit emotional and for two opposite reasons: I was happy for her, but at the same time a little sad that I had nothing close to what she had.

    My parents are still together and their proposal wasn’t so romantic either. My dad held out the ring and asked, “Well will ya?” haha

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15715933879509916904 Jas

      Lindsay!! Thank you so much for reading. I always feel extra grateful when people in real life take the time to read and comment. Seriously. I`t means a lot to me.

      Also: I relate. Totally. But we will talk about that IRL.