A year in marriage. The first year. Year one. Thousands upon thousands of little marriage-isms discovered that make me fall in love, make me quizzical, make me grateful, frustrated, challenged. Marriage-isms that better me. That’s what happens.
A year of hearing “my wife” used in conversation and getting butterflies in my heart.
A year of staring at the two rings on my left hand and wondering how any married lady ends up only wearing one or the other after awhile. A year of resolving to the fact that one day I too will probably wear just the band at times because the engagement ring is quite heavy and valuable and yes the band alone is more comfortable. One day. But for this year, I can’t imagine taking either off.
A year of wearing those rings in the ocean, hiking, camping, traveling, running. Because I will. Not. Take. Them. Off. See above.
A year of glancing at the ring on my husband’s finger and feeling pride and humility at what that simple gold band represents on his hand. That’s my promise. Right there on his hand. And he wears it with pride.
A year of reprieve from regret because ever single thing I’ve done, right or wrong, has brought me here to you.
A year of replaying the ceremony in my mind. Letting the raindrops and the faces of our friends and our families and the music and the vows drift in and out of my brain theatre. The ritual was so powerful. Was it a dream? It was real, and it was perfect.
A year of discovering that rings and ceremonies and pieces of paper absolutely do matter. Those who say they don’t are kind of right but mostly totally wrong. See above.
A year of dealing with the Social Security Administration and the DMV and the Passport agency and my banks because yes I am changing my name. I’d always wondered what women meant when they said changing your name is a pain in the ass. A year of understanding what they meant.
A year of becoming Mrs. Light. Like Laurie always knew he should be part of the March family I knew since I met him that I was born to be a Light. How can a name be so perfect?
A year of firsts. For the first time strangers reply to me after telling them my new last name “Oh, that’s a really cool name.” I’m a Sigl and always will be a Sigl. It will always be a part of my name, and sometimes I mourn it in my signature. I do not mourn the standard responses from strangers:
Stranger: S – I – G – E -…
Me: No no no, no E. Just S-I-G-L
Me: Nope. Just four letters. S-I-G-L.
Stranger: S-I-G-L. Are you sure?
Me: Yep, I’m pretty sure.
Stranger: Okay. (writes on paper: “Sigal”).
Or this struggle:
Stranger: How do you say your name?
Me: Well the correct Austrian pronunciation is Siggle (like wiggle) but most of my friends and family pronounce it Seeegl like the bird.
Stranger: So which is it?
Me: I have no idea.
*quietly whimpers and suppresses ongoing identity crisis*
I won’t miss those. I was born to be a Light.
I am the Seagull. No, that’s not it.
A year of trying to create a new signature which is a strange thing to do intentionally as my previous signature evolved organically over time.
A year of discovering that Light and Sigl share a lot of the same letters and so in rapid cursive don’t actually look very different. I can’t decide if this makes things easier, or if it disappoints me.
More firsts. Filing taxes with another person for the first time. (Who are we kidding we filed an extension and still haven’t done our taxes. Let’s get on that.)
Running a marathon for the first time.
Climbing my first mountain.
Finishing my first manuscript.
Firsts, brought to you by the power and strength of life partnership. Brought to you by the magic of marriage which when done right, makes you superhuman in your zest for life and ambition to do better.
A year of talking about “my husband” in conversation and feeling the words in my mouth go from something foreign and new to something warm and comfortable. My husband. Have you met my husband? This is my husband. I’m meeting my husband in an hour. Before I decide I’ll have to discuss it with my husband. My husband and I. Husband. What a delightful word.
A year of arguments. Yes there are arguments. Each argument teaching us things we need to know in order to navigate this new marriage. Each argument hard, painful, but necessary. Arguing with respect. Arguing with the safe feeling in my gut that knows we’ll be okay. Even though we’re mad, even though we’re disagreeing, even though we’re frustrated, there’s a way out and we’ll find it. We always do. We always have. In marriage our skill at arguing constructively is that much more necessary. We now stand on a common foundation and the wrong kind of fight can crack it. The right kind of fight can make it stronger. Let’s keep fighting right. But only every once in a while. Not fighting is in fact more fun.
A year of getting to Tahiti. A year of planning a honeymoon to Tahiti. What is more epic than a honeymoon? That’s what this is. A year of throwing up my hands because it’s too overwhelming. The flights from L.A. to Tahiti then the boat to Moorea and the inter-island airfare lined up with hotel stays and weather and the best time to take off work. It’s too much! I’m done! But the next day I wake up and I make it all work and I book our epic adventure in Tahiti. Because I’m good at planning things. You’re good at cooking, setting up campsites, taking care of our cats, and I’m good at travel planning. We bring things to the table.
A year of pondering children. Weighing our trepidation against our desires. Weighing logistics and risk and societal pressure and personal goals and biological clocks. Still pondering.
A year of people asking when we’re going to have kids.
A year of fear. Fear of losing you, fear of not being able to have children, fear of losing our cats, fear of not having enough money, fear of not accomplishing my dreams, fear you won’t accomplish yours, fear of fear. Marriage, to me, is the highest form of love. It’s not given. It’s not born. You must choose it every day. I choose it. I devote myself to this love every day. The depth of my love for you, for our marriage… hot dog there’s a lot at stake. With high stakes comes fear. Breathe it in, breathe it out. Get back into love. Always facing and overcoming fear.
A year of pet challenges. We both know that Sharky is a genius and these past few months I can’t help but wonder if he’s testing us to see if we could handle a child. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. Our golden boy has become our problem child but I have to confess that every time I see you care for him my heart swoons. And Wizard is still Mr. Wizard. Sweeter and fatter every day.
A year of newlywed bliss. They told us the first year would be the hardest but we must have gotten that hard part out of the way a long time ago because the first year was the best.
A year of faith, not in God, but in us. No givens in life. No givens in marriage. This train runs on a track of faith. Faith in each other, faith in ourselves. Train Tracks of Faith. I should have definitely been a country singer.
A year of laughter. We crack each other up in that special way that no one else would find funny, and that’s how I know it’s a special language written for us. We’re the only ones who are fluent.
A year of tears. The drama that creeps its way into my life again and again. Your shoulder is always there. Your arms are always holding me.
A year of encouragement. Yes I had a breakdown getting into the ocean to snorkel. All that equipment! Yes I didn’t think I could climb up that mountain. Yes I didn’t know I could finish a marathon. I couldn’t have, not without you.
Here’s what I have to say about marriage to anyone who has found their favorite life partner but is on the fence about the piece of paper. Do it.
Life is a field trip to a theme park with really crazy roller coasters. You want to go on those roller coasters. You don’t want to just ride the carousel all day. You know they’ll be fun but they’ll also be scary and some of them might make you sick. Will you be able to handle it? Yes you will, but you sure would like to have a buddy for the day. So you look around and you find someone who you like a whole lot and you want to sit as close as possible to that person on these big scary roller coasters. You ask that person:
“Will you be my roller coaster buddy for the WHOLE day? Like, not just the first one, but let’s stick together so we know we have a buddy all day.” And that person says:
“Yeah! I like you a lot and I definitely want to ride these roller coasters with you. And in between maybe we can sneak off behind those bushes and make out.”
And so you go over to your teacher and you announce to her and the whole class, “Hey everyone, we’re buddies for today, just so you know.” Your class respects the buddy code. And your teacher writes it down in her notebook. If she needs to speak to you she should just look for your buddy and she’ll find you, and vice versa. It’s in the book.
Maybe you’re on a field trip where you feel like riding coasters all by yourself. That’s totally fine. Or maybe you’re on that field trip where you definitely want a different buddy for every different ride. That’s cool too. But if you have found that person who you know you’d rather go on all the rides with, but you’re afraid of what it will be like to go on roller coasters with one person for the rest of your day at the theme park, I’ll tell you what it’s like. It’s awesome. The rides are way more fun. You share common memories of each scary roller coaster and you learn how to encourage each other to keep riding in a way that is so much more valuable than the thrill of riding with a new person every time.
You have to decide what you want your day at the park to be like, but if you’re like me and you feel instinctively that you would benefit from one single special buddy, say yes. Ask, and say yes.
And so here we are, Mr. and Mrs. Light, still hand in hand in our little theme park. We’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to do and see. Walking into year two together, what should our next ride be?
Happy anniversary my love.
You ask me if there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you,
Never my love,
Never my love.