He was the least considered person in the room and yet, by far, the one with the most power.
He was about to ask the two of us a few straightforward questions that would significantly alter our lives.
We were expected to give only a pre-planned, two-word response. The implications of these two words were truly inconceivable.
This is what we heard: “Do you, [insert name], promise to blah blah blah blah.” (That’s not what he said.)
Respectively, we replied as instructed: “I do.”
What were we thinking!?
We just loved each other smack dab in the middle of all the butterflies flitting and the gardenias emitting. We also assumed, like the other 2,487,000 U.S. couples that got married in 1984 (a record high, sorta), that the lovin’ feeling would stick around.
I do recall a very brief conversation we had with the preacher prior to the big day. He asked, “You do want the traditional vows, correct?” “Yes,” we replied, in unison, “of course.” After all, we had heard them dozens of times, so we were very familiar with them. (blah, blah, blah)
During the thirty years since our “I do’s”, I have come to realize the implications of those two powerful words. I had literally and legally obligated myself to love this guy, comfort this guy, honor this guy, not cheat on this guy AND even to OBEY this guy.
ON TOP OF THAT, I agreed that I’d do those things whether he was sick as a dog, poor as a church mouse, or mean as a snake!! (Ok, not in those words, but basically, that’s what they meant!)
Quite frankly, 16 months prior to that moment I had been totally unaware of this guy’s very existence.
The other day I casually asked that same man if he wanted to renew our vows for our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary. His responding glance said, “why would I do that? I meant it the first time I said it.”
I dropped it.
(As an aside to the vow thing, glances are amazing. With four quick glances, we can have a two-day knock-down, drag-out fight. This is much less taxing. Zero regrets.)
I, though, have actually put some thought time into the whole vow thing. If I had a do-over, I wouldn’t say the same thing. I wouldn’t use those same words. My vows would be different.
In retrospect, I would paraphrase what our lives have morphed into over the last 30 years.
Let me explain with two tales: (or skip the tales and jump to the end)
A few years back, I held a marketing position at a local restaurant. During my first few weeks there, some of the employees were very aloof. But after a while they warmed up to me. (Occasionally, I can be funny; fortunately, that is endearing.)
One day, after a bit of laughter, one of the gals, Regina, cocked her head back, smiled at me and said, “You alright, Miss Karen. I’d kill a brick about ya.”
I sensed that this was a compliment, but I didn’t comprehend what she said. I know I looked perplexed so I just uttered, “Huuuuh?”
She smiled and spoke more clearly for me: “I’d kill a brick about ya.”
I squinted my eyes as she grinned, knowing that I still didn’t’ get it.
So, I had to ask, “what does that meeeeean….?”
Regina rolled her eyes, leaned in and very slowly explained, “It means that if anybody ever messes with ya, I. Got. Your. Back.”
The other day while in my kitchen, I was caught up in a Katie Couric show about stuttering. For a variety of reasons, I was very moved by the few minutes that I watched. Tears weren’t flowing, but I was sniffling.
About that time my husband walked through the kitchen behind me. I heard him as he stopped in his tracks and, with a bit of urgency in his voice, he asked, “are you alright?” I turned around. He noted with a quick glance that I was ok. He kept walking out the back door. The rest of his thought involuntarily came out his mouth, “I thought you were crying.”
This man that I have coexisted with for 30 years didn’t consciously realize that when he asked that very simple question, my entire BEING heard: “I LOVE YOU, I ADORE YOU! It matters to me what is going on inside of you!…… I GOT YOUR BACK!!!”
swoon |swo͞on| verb. be emotionally affected by someone or something that one admires; become ecstatic
So, if I had a do over, I’d still make my Princess Di wedding dress, I’d have a ton of flowers and I’d keep that very long aisle. I’d still invite everybody and their second cousin to the shin-dig, I’d still have Margaret paint me up, and I’d still have a gianormous reception. I’d even have the same groom. No regrets there.
But I would think more about the vows and try to comprehend the inconceivable implications of each word that I was about to proclaim. My look-into-his-eyes would be just as longing, but, instead, I would say,
“Tim, I got your back. I’d kill a brick about ya.”
(Obnoxious organ music. Exit.)