Apr 13, 201711:41 PM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Wedded Bliss, Take 2
Second marriages are different, but every bit as special.
I met Jordan on my second day of college during a “science for non-science majors” class.
“I’m the black sheep of my family,” she told me darkly when we were assigned, along with two dumb-shit frat boys whose names I forget, as lab partners.
“Oh,” I said. “I’m from New Orleans.” It was the only interesting thing I could think to say about myself.
I’m not sure we would have bonded if not for our errant lab partners, who rarely came to class and, when they did, “man-splained” (although that was not a word back in the fall of 1998) how to use Bunsen burners.
I knew we’d be friends when one of the boys – let’s call him “Chad” – actually showed up for a lab one day – and immediately started nagging Jordan about what he deemed to be her “excessive” use of Kimwipes.
She smiled sweetly at him, kept flawlessly adding eye-droppers full of reagent (or whatever) to her beaker without missing a beat, and invented about 25 excuses to use Kimwipes when she wouldn’t otherwise have done so.
“Oops, Eve, I think there’s a little smudge on the table … right there … oops, better get after it with a Kimwipe.”
“Do you need to wipe your safety glasses, Eve? Because I feel like mine are getting a little dirty. Yeah, they definitely are. Let’s clean them up with a Kimwipe.”
“Oh, gosh, my forehead is getting sweaty. I’m going to dry it off with a Kimwipe.”
By the time the lab was over, we’d used an entire pack of Kimwipes and become best friends. By the time the semester was over, the two boys had dropped out and Jordan and I made A’s in the course and won awards for our performance.
Sophomore year, we were roommates in a crappy college apartment, and ours was a stereotypical-college-montage-worthy existence of drunken birthday karaoke, late-night Walmart trips, costume parties, shoe shopping, keggers, binging on pizza (with pineapple!), cramming for finals. We were both high-achieving only children, fiercely loyal to each other, determined to work hard, party hard, and live our best lives in a time blessedly before cameraphones and Facebook.
We only lived together for one year, but we stayed friends for the rest of college, dancing at weird redneck cowboy bars in rural Missouri, making terrible cookies and one truly failed rhubarb pie, driving around in quiet horror and crying on Sept. 11 our senior year. She called me with cooking questions; I called her with fashion questions. We both made horrible decisions but gave great advice.
When I got married in 2003, she stood up in my wedding; when she got married a year later, I did the same.
I gave a toast at her wedding that I recall thinking was very wise, full of sage advice I’d gleaned from my one year of holy matrimony at the ripe age of 24. Looking back on it now, I’m sure it was treacley and useless, sort of like the parenting advice I might have given when Ruby was an infant versus what I’d give now with a 15-year-old stepson and 10- and 4-year-old daughters.
When we were 24, life had been pretty good to us. Now, at 36, life has still been good to us, but in the past 12 years, we’ve had some life actually happen to us. Hurricane Katrina. Health scares. A second-trimester miscarriage. Two high-risk pregnancies. Her divorce. My divorce. The deaths of friends. The death of my half-sister. The death of her mother.
There’s been plenty of joy, too – the births of my daughters, the birth of her son, job advancements, housewarmings, my remarriage.
And now she too is getting remarried, this weekend in Omaha.
Ruby is reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry right now; it’s an old favorite of mine, so I reread it with her. At one point, the main character’s uncle tells her, “It is much easier to be brave when you don’t know everything.”
Getting married the first time, for both of us, was definitely a case of not knowing everything. I’d argue, though, that it’s not really being brave if you have no idea what you’re risking.
Being brave is when you’re terrified but do it anyway.
Getting married for the first time is joyful. Getting married for the second time is brave.
You know, the second time around, how much can go wrong. How bad fights can be. How much it can hurt.
But you do it anyway – because the only thing stronger than fear is love.
Getting married on Easter weekend – a time of renewal, rebirth, faith, and hope – seems particularly auspicious to me.
I’m giving the toast at her wedding tomorrow night – both of us older, wiser, with stretch marks both real and figurative – but instead of whatever I said in 2004 about putting the toilet seat down or whatever, all I really have to say is: “Be brave.”
To everyone, happy Easter! And to Jordan and Mike, happy wedding!