Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sour Milk

We lov'd, and we lov'd as long as we could
Til our love was lov'd out in us both;
But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure has fled:
'Twas pleasure that made it an oath.

-John Dryden

Last night I got a hastily dashed off MySpace message from my college friend Kelly informing me that she'd split with her husband. She had taken her daughter and moved off to a new city; she has no job, no plan. It is frightening and liberating at the same time, she wrote. The news surprised me but didn't shock. When I visited her this summer, there was a tinge of malaise that I just couldn't place. Now maybe I understand.

All day my heart's been aching for Kelly and her little gal. I know Kelly is strong, but I also watched her go through an icky breakup in college and the bruises from that one took a while to heal.

Kelly isn't my first friend to get divorced, but she is the first one to go through the ordeal of a busted marriage with a child. I always viewed "divorce + kids" as something that happened to people older than me, but now clearly I've reached and surpassed another Older Than Me cliff on my climb up Age Mountain.

Whenever a marriage in my circle of friends dissolves, it makes me thankful so very much for the great relationship I have with my husband. Last night after reading and replying to the message, I went downstairs and wrapped my arms around Adrian while he was trying to load the dishwasher. I may not believe in an idealized romantic true love, but I sure as shit believe in soul mates. How else do you explain a man so willing to put up with my insanity for thirteen years? He's my best friend, my partner in crime, and my rock (except way cuter). He's the big pole in the middle of my circus tent.

The flip side to my gratitude is a gnawing fear: How do I know the same thing won't some day happen to me? No one I know woke up the day they got married and thought, "Aw, what the hell. In a couple of years, I can always get divorced," but rather saw themselves entering into a partnership that would carry them through their final days. The adage about marriage being hard work never made much sense until I actually got married, then made doubly sense after having a child. It's a shame to see people give up making it work. It's scary to wonder if you'll ever run out of steam too.

A friend once shared with me a golden nugget of his mother's wisdom. His mother said that people get married the first time for sex, the second time for children, and the third time for money. (She herself being thrice wed.) At the time, I just thought he was being a cock about my own impending nuptials (He was.), but now after I witness yet another friend turn in her wedding ring, maybe there's a grain of truth in that somewhere.

But not for me. The milk in this house is ULTRA-pasteurized.

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