I was reading on the beach when a couple got married next to me. I mostly ignored them and their ten-ish guests, but eventually grew aware of their elaborate staged photo shoot. These marionettes turned, walked, thrusted, nodded, squinted, smiled, kissed, at the whims of their photographer. This farce carried on for at least twenty minutes (but I’m not sure exactly how long, as I left around that time).
I guess I’m not terribly invested in the idea of marriage; I think I could be quite happy never getting married. But I wish I didn’t care about getting married at all. I think my fondness toward the institution is borne of some weakness, some need to fit in to this world a little more; as if it’s a shortcut to happiness or security or status or worth. I know better, and I know I know better, and yet I can’t help but think that I might be a little bit sad if I were middle-aged and unmarried.
That odd dance I watched at the beach today represents much of my distaste for the tradition. Could you imagine? You have just married the woman you fucking love, you love her and your lives together so much you proposed, and she said yes, and you planned, and you flew out to Kaua’i to commemorate your Great Love, and she walks out on to the beach, and you’re so happy, and you Kiss the Bride, and god, all I would want is to luxuriate in that moment – not unlike how I luxuriate in waking up with you –
You kiss the bride and you’re so fucking happy, and you get approximately 10 seconds before the photographers tell you to stand here, stand there, move around, shake your ass, tilt your head, and it’s all because you fucking asked them to! You had to commemorate this great moment, this symbolic act of love and commitment, and instead of even just having candids of your sheer joy with your loved one, you had to fucking vogue in the poses that our culture has decided demonstrate How You Should Look on Your Wedding Day. What kind of fuckery is that?
But we keep doing it, for millennia. Why? As my actual friends begin to get married, I turn it over and over in my head (especially when they’re ones who project indifference about marriage). I think wanting to be married someday may reflect my worse qualities: an insecure, ill-gotten belief that marriage means lifelong love and security; but even more, the need for some sort of social approval. That knowledge pisses me off, and makes me not want to do it.
But I also think a nice thing about marriage is that it’s some sort of performative living that constructs and reconstructs peoples’ love, commitment to, responsibility for, and reliance upon each other. Naming the unnameable: to impose structure and reason and labels also firms up what you feel exists, but maybe lacked the ability to articulate, before entering into that union. And to have a wedding, regardless of the Holy Trinity, seems nice, because maybe it says, Hey; I love you, and I love everybody else here, and isn’t it great that we all get to be happy and love each other together? Certainly committing yourself to another is no less important, and no more anyone’s business, than your high school graduation, or your bat mitzvah, or another situation in which people who love you are happy, unselfishly loving, all at once?
Maybe I’m just idealizing it – trying to rationalize some social force and personal impulse that I’m too weak to defeat completely.