Monday, October 17, 2011

Statistics outside the (bubble).

The Liberty Bubble of course.

...But let's backtrack. Yes, already.

I am currently around two months into my first job job, and it has opened me up to a new world that I sometimes have a bit of a time adjusting too. I had jobs all through high school and college of course, but those were different. I was a kid working with other kids. Our problems were simple, wholesome things, like friends showing up hungover to work, the co-worker who got in trouble for sending texts of herself naked to every male employee, the dude with cocaine in the freezer (allegedly), and maybe, occasionally, trying to text at work. Those were the days.

Any other job I had was inside the "Liberty Bubble," which is so called with affection. For all the issues I take with Liberty I have to say I appreciated most of the rules. I'm glad I never had to deal with drunken hallmates vomiting on my carpet while I was studying Shakespeare. Most R rated movies aren't worth seeing anyway. I even liked hall meetings; somehow they made the transition from home to independence easier. And my job (college store employee for t h r e e years... yeahhhhh boy) was great. I miss it. For real. But I was definitely spoiled by the Bubble.

And that is how this relates to my impending matrimony. One of the many attributes of the Bubble was and is an abundance of young love, whirlwind romances, rings by spring, and weddings weddings weddings. Jerry Falwell himself stated -only half jokingly- that brother/sister dorms were created for that very reason. Liberty loves marriage. Baptist, straight, Republican marriage (Kidding, kiddinggggg...). It's an idealized world where commitment is key, often regardless of how healthy the initial relationship is. I didn't necessarily approve of this mentality, and I've seen some pretty immature couples jump into marriage, but all I've seen is the beginning of these stories, not the end, and in general all seems to be well. Most of my close Liberty friends are either married or engaged; some have even popped out a kid or two already.

In the sea of diamonds, dresses, and diplomas (and in the midst of my college relationships or near-relationships... of which I had a few) I mostly forgot about the darker sides of marriage. Darker as in... when marriage doesn't work. I always had relatives who were divorced, and friends with divorced parents, but that was as a child and young adult. Now that I have a job and friends in "real life," divorce has become much more of something that's real and tangible. These are my peers. Some have not only been divorced, but are in the process now. Until now I've never spoken with people whose marriages are crumbling, who just a few short years ago were where I am: buying a dress, oohing and aahing over a ring, hopelessly happy about their future. Now that future is mutated and a different kind of hopeless. Even stranger than those I meet going through separation and divorce are those I meet who are married, but openly unhappy. They've written off their marriages, and seem to have accepted a life of underwhelming love, if any love.

Sometimes it's interesting to talk to them about my engagement/wedding. I've been told to my face that I'm too young to get married. Again, a huge difference from the Bubble, where you tend to feel like an old maid if you're not engaged by junior year. I also have to check myself when I start to say things like "Well I'm only getting married once," because now I've heard the response: "Well that's what I thought too." No one means anything ugly by it and no one is trying to be a Debbie Downer; they're just being honest and sharing their lives like I am. And I can't just say that Tim and I know it in our hearts that we're different; I'm sure they "knew" too when they got married. Some talk about how their spouses turned into completely different -and horrible- people overnight, and I can't imagine Tim being anything other than what he is now, which is the kindest, most caring, most accepting, most loving man I know. I'm sure they couldn't imagine a drastic change either at this stage. Honestly, how do I know it'll work forever? The brutally honest answer is I "don't," save for Tim and I's commitment to each other that no matter how hard it gets we will never lay separation or divorce on the table. I can rely on that commitment and live without any doubt in my mind... it's just not usually considered a valid explanation by those who have been divorced or betrayed. Additionally some of these people are Christians and no doubt made the same commitments, said the same things.

In other words, I can't win, ha.

But really, I can't. There is nothing I can say that will adequately satisfy their cynicism. Maybe skepticism is a nicer word. No, realism is the nicest. I think that they are in an "in this day and age" mindset, and I respect that choice. In the grand scheme of things I suppose it isn't my job to convince them that Tim and I will last. People phase in and out of each other's lives every day and I'm sure most of my new acquaintances will never know if Tim and I make it. What is really important is that we make choices now that prevent problems in the future. We have to focus on our relationship without letting the relationships of others lead us toward more pessimistic expectations. This will be hard. But I will stubbornly, optimistically, say that this is the man I will be with forever, and I will say it with total certainty. I know because I know. In the immortal words of Fanny Brice (the movie version), "Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade!"

...And please ignore the fact that she also gets divorced in the end. It's still a great song.

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