To say I am something of a free spirit would be like saying Mao Tse-tung was something of a despot. I am a 27-year-old upper-middle-class white girl with two English degrees, true, but a Ph.D. dropout and escapee of the ivory tower moonlighting as a director, actress, confessional writer, and dabbler in amateur psychology. My friends think I march to my own beat; my parents think I’m just plain crazy. I am a barefoot hippie bohemian flaneur who keeps my options open, writes bad poetry, subsists on caffeine and nicotine, and longs for the open road. Sylvia Plath and Jack Kerouac are my literary idols, white picket fences make my skin crawl, and I am historically known for my revolving-door relationships and my little black book (does Generation Y still have those?) the size of War and Peace. I make my own decisions and call my own shots. Domesticity has never been my strong suit. Julia Child I am not; Donna Reed still less so. I work in the theater, which operates on the unspoken assumption that artists don’t get married, where marriage is viewed as an unpleasant heteronormative relic of a bygone civilization, where cohabitation is an end unto itself and infidelity is the norm if not the expectation. I grew up in a culture where the indissolubility of marriage is a joke in a country that sees 900,000 divorces a year.
Then why, one might reasonably ask, did a girl like me just get married a week ago?
Because I finally found the man who was worth marrying.
It’s both as simple and as complex as that. It wasn’t out of necessity; I’m not pregnant, despite sundry accusations to the contrary. It wasn’t for security; I married a captain in the United States Army and am taking off for parts unknown in a few short weeks. It wasn’t for appearances; if anything, we have alienated many close-minded folks with the permanency of our decision. It was because I finally found the one human being who fills my heart with joy and whom I couldn’t possibly go another day without lest I shrink to something small and mean and soulless. He is my perfect complement, my sanity, and my rock. He is the only person on the planet who could possibly deal with my industrial-forklift-full of emotional baggage and still make fighting over doing the dishes fun. When Harry Met Sally had it right: when you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible. Yes, marriage is a calculated risk, but when you risk nothing, you stand to lose everything. Being a grownup is not being Carrie Bradshaw. Being a grownup means turning in your Rolodex and promising an imperfect person you will love him imperfectly for as long as you both shall live. It is the nature of love to bind itself, as Chesterton once wrote in “A Defense of Rash Vows,” and the “institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.” I may be a bohemian, but this is one bohemian who honors her commitments and takes her promises seriously. I think Chesterton sums it up rather nicely: “the towering flame will rise from the harbour announcing that the reign of the cowards is over and a man is burning his ships.”
Or in this case, a woman.