Monday, August 6, 2018

Throwing Away My Shot (glasses)

As my wedding date is getting closer (by wedding date I mean 8/18/18, who I'm going way with was settled way back), it's a good time to take inventory of my life. There's a few jokes that are easy as my cancer and divorced and jokes about not ever getting into a serious commitment are fairly public. If you think weddings are expensive, the icing on the donuts is that I have to pay an additional $100 from losing my George Clooney bet. The jokes are fairly fun from good friends: 'no one will ever figure out why she's marrying you but why her, is it that she has the fastest marathon time? Is is that she a solid job?' Like all good jokes, there's some truth that make them a little funnier. Her fastest marathon (yet) came after we sat on a bus next to each other for Boston and I kid you not a few days ago after we finally joined financial accounts she got a raise (sugar mama) but that's not why I'm marrying her.

I'm marrying her because I'm less uncomfortable at every level with Elaine. It would be a blatant lie to say I'm perfectly comfortable around her because well I'm not even perfectly comfortable being myself by myself but somewhere in the primal and the intellectual, I think she gets my better and worse side. It seems that every even semi romantic song gets me thinking about the wedding and married life together, still dreaming about a 50th anniversary where I'll be 88 and she'll be 77 (the age gap will be a smaller deal then right?). If I started telling you about all of them, it would become a falsehood that I'm somehow suddenly not emotional reticent but there are two that literally were the subjects of previous blog posts that I've been listening to and realize that she's become the substance of things hoped for. In one of those posts, I said I had no one who would compare to this,

So run till you cannot take a single step in strength
Then crawl on your hands and knees, till your hands and knees they ache
And when you cannot crawl

It will be me you call to carry you back home again.

I wrote about that about a year after meeting her, about a year before asking her on a date and about 2 years before proposing while still saying I'd never marry. Well, I've also said forever that I'd never do an ultra and well, neither is done yet but I think come August 19th, I'll be her husband and almost exactly a year after I propose we are signed up for our first Ultra, a Spartan Ultra where we will be on our hands and knees crawling but next to each other and then heading home, together. The main premise of that song is its title, Done Living, the question isn't are you going to die, you're going to die but will you be done living when you do? I'm still going to die, and I don't know when or how even if it's with or from this cancer but somehow, I think those wedding vows are a new start line.

Still, that song isn't the one I've listened to the most from old days. It's one given reference to in this post, the song Arms of a Woman. I have a playlist set up that I'll be listening to on wedding day which has a variety of songs from cheesy to hymns to romantic to humorous but this song I played it for Elaine recently across a table and I started crying, not sobbing, just a few tears going down my cheek because of the lyrics:

Now most days I spend like a child
Who's afraid of ghosts in my mind
I know there ain't nothing out there
But I'm still afraid to turn on the light

I am at ease in the arms of a woman
When she wakes me, she takes me back home

While it is not the order that I recommend or hope that my daughter takes (that whole moving in first), the truth is we've in some ways minor and some ways major redone something in every section of the house since she did so a little over a year ago and nowhere that I've lived in the entirety of my adult life has a place felt so much like home. I would roll my eyes at anyone talking about someone else being their home and I'm certainly not going to say it about Elaine but we've made it a joint home, a family one and I'm surprisingly at ease.

There are many songs that are part of the while people are sitting around part of the wedding that they'll not catch (that's okay, they're supposed to be socializing) but many are nods to musicals (including the one in the title here). This amuses me as when I was first hearing about musicals I thought what an absolutely ridiculous form of entertainment, that people would just walk around and burst into song about what's going on in their lives or minds or hearts. There are several musicals that are being nodded to in the wedding time because as I've gotten a lot older and only a little wiser, maybe just maybe bursting out into song to express yourself doesn't seem like the worst idea. We're even inviting everyone to go see a musical a couple of nights before the wedding at a park, something we did with each other and her parents back when we were friends.

This is a world I've seen 4 World Wonders with and a 5th is on the calendar but part of the reason we work is we live for experiences for things. My first international trip I saw that all of us tourists seemed to be in gift shops picking up one if not several items. The ones that seemed to be everywhere were shotglasses, postcards, magnets and spoons. Like finishers medals or completion ribbons, I've dutifully picked one up from all the places and countries I've been to. When Elaine moved in, I put away all the ones that weren't from joint trips with her or Kiana. However, as wedding gifts have started to come in and my anti materialistic kick comes in, it seems with each gift I clear out a shelf. Almost two decades worth of shot glasses were gotten rid of (someone working on my house accidentally broke one and was very apologetic) but I realized as I looked at the shelf, mostly it reminded me shopping for them not being at those places and plus the place wasn't mine, it was ours so they went to goodwill. The shelves were replaced with a nod to Mexican culture and another to Chinese, far less space and yet far more elegant. I've cleared out clothes and shoes and camping gear and... and... perhaps there are those who think you make more room but it's been a head, heart and space clearing process and the vast majority will create growing space for Elaine and Kiana and faith, hope and love.

We're still having fun with the wedding process. I'm still growing out my hair for the wedding weekend which when Kiana heard me refer to it as a fro, she researched it and I went skating for the first time since high school and her first time ever, all dressed appropriately in 70's clothes. Elaine fairly called out that I theoretically don't hold onto things but somehow I had 3 different 70's outfits available without shopping for a thing (I have one full costume drawer).

There are many of the traditions that we're not going to be the fiddler on the roof and just keep them for tradition sake (there's no cake or giving away of the bride). The ways we incorporate our families is a little different, a little the same. Appreciate the fact that diversity is a good thing, there are nods to our backgrounds (Chinese and Mexican food will be served). In those senses, we've embraced the 'it's your day, don't worry about anyone else' advice I'm annoyed at receiving so much (if it's my day, why am I inviting anyone else? We're hosts and we want this to be a good party where people eat and drink while we get married?!?). But in other ways, it's just a beginning, a first I love you and unlike the first time I said where I was hugging her from behind and didn't quite have the courage to look at her in the eye as I said, I'll be saying it in front of a few dozen friends and family and committing to do it while I'm living and unlike I've thought for far too long, I trust and hope that I'm just getting started.

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