February 24, 2009

I Got Your Happily Ever After Right Here

In eleventh grade my AP History class had a family history project. We were to pick a branch of our family tree and begin our report when that branch sprouted in America. My Nana, maternal grandmother, was pissed I took German (her husband's heritage) for my language requirement. So I figured I'd pacify her and write about her family for my project.

I got a "B" on the project (it didn't deserve such a good grade- I was terribly busy being a drama nerd) and proceeded to put it somewhere and now I can't find it anymore. That's okay because it's a piece of crap. A piece of crap that is full of misinformation. Misinformation? Let's fast forward to my sophomore year of college. I went to Tampa for Thanksgiving since my immediate family was stationed in England and I couldn't afford to go home. I didn't really want to go anyway since my parents split up the year before and holidays from that point on were just going to be painful requirements. So I thought I'd spend it with my extended family- I haven't seen those people in years. That'd be cool, right? Not cool, no, but informative.

I fully expected Nana to parade me around to various family members who hadn't seen me in a long time. This included Great-Nana Red. My Great-aunt Maria, me, Nana, Papa and Maria's six year old daughter all go see Nana Red together. Nana Red asked how my family was doing and I told her Mom was in Colorado and Dad and siblings were in England. She asks, "Why aren't they together?" I look over to Nana with confusion- why didn't she know about the split? While Nana Red starts to panic about what's happened to my mom, Nana and Maria proceed to bicker about why Nana Red wasn't told anything and Papa stays out of it by playing with his niece. I take it upon myself to tell her that my parents are getting a divorce. Her response? "Oh, it runs in the family." What runs in the family? DIVORCE. Say what? No one said anything about divorce in that FAMILY TREE REPORT I WROTE.

Turns out Great-grandfather Whatshisname and Nana Red got a divorce a looooong time ago. Then I found out my grandparents also got a divorce. In 1981. The year I was born. And I didn't find out until 2000. They got divorced but not annulled and then moved back in together and now they have a common-law marriage. But technically they are divorced and apparently incredibly stupid.

People who know this story joke around that I'm next in the line of divorce. I'll tell you something: all this divorce did me a favor. All of those people were (in my grandparents' case are) miserable. None of them should've gotten married in the first place. I learned more about marriage from these divorces than I would've if they stayed married (on purpose.) All those people were/are emotionally retarded. No wonder they got divorced.

I was never romantic. I can thank my mother for that. She never kept it secret that marriage wasn't what she thought it would be. Awesome, right? That's exactly what your ten-year-old wants to hear when you're driving to a craft show at the mall. Was that insensitive of her? Yes. Terrible? Maybe. Helpful? Incredibly. I believe in marriage more now than when my parents were still married. Being married is a rollercoaster. It will be amazing some days and shitastic other days. But that's what you're going to get when you see the same person all the time.

I am prepared for marriage. I am excited to create a new path with Mike. I can't wait to laugh with him, cry with him, conduct social experiments on our kids with him. Thanks to the mistakes of my family I know it's okay to not like your partner all the time. But most importantly I know it's okay to love all the time. Divorce is the best thing that could ever have happened to me.


Carrie said...

wow... just wow. you never fail to completely surprise me with your blog. This was so incredibly moving!!! (probably because i'm getting married soon, too.)

well done... well done, indeed.

The Common Daisy said...

I think that my parent's divorces (yes, plural my dad was married once before my mom and my mom has been married 2 more times post) have really helped me to understand what it means to be married and what it takes to be in a healthy relationship. Even though all that divorce history has mad me a little marriage cynical, I think is has also prepared me to be in a life long relationship more than anything else. Cheers to not repeating the mistakes of our parents!

dad said...

I wish I could share an appendix here that would wrap things nicely, but I got nothing. There are things that words simply can't convey; some things you just have to live. Then, after all of it, you get a kind of sad understanding. Cliche, I know, but there it is. I don't think there is a universal truth here; I think it's possible, and therefore I hope, that all of you are better at this than I was.