As of today, Juan and I have been married for 10 YEARS!!
Here is a photo of us in our same flat in Stavanger, taken in October 2014. I must have signed the mortgage papers some months earlier. I did not really understand them. I didn’t know how to calculate how much I had to pay per month or if I could. I was probably scared I couldn’t make the payments, so I chose—not to investigate further! I’m sure they explained all this to me at the time, but I was still in “fake it til you make it” mode and was probably too afraid to show that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Or thinking, “I’m supposed to pay for twenty five years? I AM twenty five! How am I supposed to bind myself to a decision like that?”
These last ten years have been, at times, TERRIFYING! Anyway, I guess I followed my intuition on that decision and that it was the right one. I don’t feel like I have a very strong intuition, but there are a few times when it has been correct and I have known it enough to make big decisions I did not fully understand that later proved themselves to pay off.
At age 13 it told me, “You’re gay.” I thought, “Fuck. Okay. Ugh.*” Sometimes people have asked me how I knew—was it someone I was attracted to? No, it was my brain saying “You’re gay you’re gay you’re gay” over and over. If I hadn’t taken it to be a fact I might have thought it was bullying me. But it was right!
Just a few weeks after I had met Juan, my intuition told me, “This guy has to stay in your life forever. Best case as your partner, but you could also settle for friend.” I was like, “Bit of a practical way of telling me I’ve found my soulmate but okay, noted**.”
And hey, it was right about that too.
I don’t know how we got through the last ten years alive, let alone together. Jesus, I lost both my parents, which I could choose to ruminate on until I never stopped screaming about how unfair it is—but unfortunately I have to park that thought forever if I want to, say, enjoy a morning coffee or play videogames. I hope loss provides others with some resilience, but I don’t think it does, given that each loss is unique. For me, the second loss was even worse. I think because I’d erroneously lured myself into feeling like we were done with the whole “losing a parent” thing for a few decades at least. We’d already punched that hole in the family suffering score card. But apparently not. What the fuck, universe?! Maybe the universe provideth me such a lovely partner before either of these losses so I could better get through them, but it feels unfair to test a young marriage with hurdles so enormous that even one of them can outright break a person.
But there was Juan by my side, just being Juan. A bundle of social energy and joy. An embodiment of gratitude. A personal champion. A big kid. Even in the worst times, never a day without laughter. A collector of objets that he imbues with favourite memories and meanings with which he fills our home. He didn’t need to do anything differently, anything more. Never does. I know who I married. That’s who I want.
And here we still are. Which gives me confidence we can weather anything together in future***.
There is surely a growing trend of people reconsidering marriage based on the fact that, no, you can’t know for sure that you and this other person will want the same things forever. This undoubted fact is often spouted, carelessly, by young men in their twenties who don’t read enough. They act like they’re the first people to have ever realised this. As opposed to only just realising what everyone has always known about marriage. What the kind partner who listens to them probably knows as they, nevertheless, collect wedding inspiration photos on a secret Pinterest board. It’s a leap of faith. One that I know was worth making.
It really helped me to remember at times that one day someone had signed a certificate to be with me forever when I felt, in the midst of hideous grief, that nobody wanted me around. You can’t know you’re doing it for that, can you? You’d hope you weren’t!
Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on, or why, or what to say about it. I know that I know way less than I thought I did ten years ago. Then again, enough has happened by now for me to forever be glad I civil partnershipped Juan, then upgraded to ruining the sanctity of marriage at a later date. Or would’ve ruined it if only I knew where our certificate was, it’s in a box somewhere…
Ten years ago, we didn’t need to know what the next ten years would hold for us. We just needed to know, and remember, that we really wanted to go through them together. In a best case scenario. But also settle for friend if needed
*I hope to be part of one of the last generations who react that way about the news.
**In Alain de Botton’s brilliant book Essays in Love, he evaluates the statistical improbability of anyone finding their soulmate, disproving the concept from a mathematical perspective. Which I actually find pretty cool. I don’t think anyone sensible believes in the soulmate destiny thing—but I know that when you meet someone you can spend the rest of your life with, THAT’S HOW IT FEELS. And, my God, that’s good enough for me.
***But I already had that, so can I have my parents back? No? Right then.