Friday, September 26, 2008

5 years=Wood?! (snickering)

Five years ago today, I became a Missus. We got married at one of my favorite places on this planet, Cranbrook House in Birmingham, MI, where I snuck in & skinny dipped in younger days. We had our reception in an old bank in downtown Pontiac. It was a blast. It was beautiful. But, to give you some context...

My husband sold me my first new car. People find this hilarious & say things like, "That must have been a great car!" (Har! Knee slap!) It was a crazy time, in the end of 2001. I was trying to decide if I was going to move to Colorado, because it would be a huge difference in cost of living. I was always afraid I was going to meet a guy that would make me want to stay in MI. So was my Dad.

One of the clearest memories in my life is when Biggie was putting my license plate on my new car for me. I wasn't use to this much chivalry or customer service. He was asking me why I'd want to move to Colorado because it was so snowy there. He told me as soon as his lease was up he was moving to Florida. I froze. I knew if I wasn't careful I was going to end up moving with this guy. Florida? Ick!

I did love my new car. I always bake about 10 different batches of cookies around Christmas & box up some to give to people that are new friends or acquaintances. I dropped a box off for Biggie. Our first date was 2 weeks later at the International Auto Show. He thought it was cool that we could have a logical discussion regarding the benefits of a rotary engine. When we had dinner afterwards at a Detroit standard, Cyprus Tavern, he started a tradition of asking me what I thought he should order. I'm an excellent orderer. He had the Moussaka.

Our second date was in Downtown Plymouth, where I lived at the time, to the ice sculpture competition & for dinner at a great place that I miss a lot, The Box Bar. We sat at the bar, drinking, joking around. At one point he got up to go to the bathroom & he just kissed me. It was abrupt. I was kind-of pissed. I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. But at the same time, I was glad he did it.

As time went on, I started to get worried. I really liked this guy & he was going to move to Florida. He told me after we had been dating for about four months that he wanted me to move to Florida with him. He had the opportunity to go to several different cities in Florida, so he told me to just figure out where I wanted to go & that's where we would go. Things between us have always just rolled along. One of the first jobs I applied for was with The City of Fort Myers. They flew me down to Florida, interviewed me, & offered me a job on the spot. I got up the next morning, found a condo for us to rent, & flew home. It was just kind-of understood that we would be engaged before moved. He's told me I ruined his plans for a romantic proposal. I was all bitchy that night when we went out to dinner & wouldn't let him get a word in. He ended up just asking me in his apartment. I like to think I let him off easy.

My life at certain points is much like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Even though I'm Catholic too, I still come off as incredibly waspy. My husband is first generation Canadian, with both of his parents from southern Italy. His mother, from Calabria, moved with her family to Niagara Falls when she was around 12. His father moved to Canada from Sardinia when he was 18. They had two boys, my Biggie the second one, then a girl. They were divorced when Big was a teenager. His mom suffered a traumatic closed head injury that left her in a coma for a year. She's functioning pretty highly, but she isn't the same person she was before her accident, I'm told. Between them & I, there is a large cultural barrier. Between his father & I, let's just say there is a division of responsibility barrier. With his mom & I, there's an additional strain because of her accident.

In the last three years that we have been parents, our marriage has been seriously strained. I have gotten to the point that I can look at things in a macro sense & see that there will be ups & downs. The down seem to coincide with lack of sleep. The up seem to coincide with gifts. (I'm kidding.) No, the ups seem to coincide with progress, as in the meeting of challenges. The process of parenting & seeing our affect on MiniMe has helped our relationship greatly, lately.

There was a long spell of great tension in our relationship that stemmed from unresolved resentments. We would have a disagreement & it would never get dealt with because we didn't want to fight in front of MiniMe. I started to notice that her behavior would change. She knew there was a problem & she didn't like it. She would be terse & make abrupt, angry little grunts. By the time I would get her to bed, Biggie would be sleeping, too. Things festered. There were shouting matches & threats. When MiniMe started shouting at us, I realised something had to be done.

I thought about it & realised that it wasn't right for MiniMe not to see how problems got resolved. The reason it would be inappropriate for things to be resolved in front of her was because of the way Biggie & I talked to each other. I tried to talk about my theories to Biggie, but as in parenting, setting the example was far more effective. Biggie is an expert at getting me "spun", as he says. When he would say things that were nasty, I asked him quietly to not talk to me that way in front of our child. When I stopped reacting to him, & instead asking how I could help him to not to say or do these things, He noticed. But also, so did MiniMe.

Biggie knows things he says hurt me, make me angry. He knows it's not okay. I do the same thing sometimes. When I don't react or retaliate it reminds him that I love him & settles him down. My love, my restraint, they humble him. They remind him of the promises we made to each other & they show our daughter how people that love each other treat each other. It is a powerful thing.

On our wedding day, it had been cloudy, drizzly most of the day. Right before the ceremony it began to clear. I remember getting ready to walk down the aisle, trying to not be too sweet to my Dad, because I knew he was on the verge of crying. I concentrated on squeezing his hand, yet not making eye contact. Looking at this picture the photographer took, I wonder if this is the way between many brides & their fathers.

It made me flustered, & when I stood at the top of the steps to the garden where the ceremony
was, I looked down to see my dress was too long for some reason. I've been told that when I stepped up to the top of the stairs, the sun came out from the clouds behind me & lit me up. The church across the street was ringing it's ancient bells, completely unplanned on our part. I heard people gasp, thankfully taking me away from cursing myself. My dress was too long because I had forgotten the slip that went under my dress. Typical me. Too late now. People were gasping at me! *blush*

But it was the sound of Biggie, weeping, that truly made me present. My machismo Italian was weeping for me. He was overcome with tears of joy at the sight of me, his bride. It was audible. It is one of the things that gets me through those times when he can be, frankly, a major trial.

I remember a lot of things from that day, but the tears & this moment, below, are my favorites. I knew it was going too fast. I just paused because I could, & because I knew these things would sustain us. I remember how I felt with his breath on my face, his smile, this very moment. This was a celebration of our love, corny, I know, but in times such as these, very necessary.

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