The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

June 22, 2004

“Lost in wonder, love, and praise”

Originally posted to Diary-X

Three years ago today, I stood in front of friends, family members, one priest, and two photographers and agreed to bind my life to John’s. “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life,” I told him, and he promised the same. I was so incredibly happy that I was actually bouncing up and down a little in my big white dress. I remember that John was very tan, and his grin—one of the first things I’d noticed about him two years earlier—was very wide.

Later, he told me that during most of the ceremony he was afraid he was going to throw up. He gets nervous like that sometimes.

It’s kind of cliché to say that your wedding was the happiest day of your life, but honestly, June 22, 2001, was the most joy-filled day I’ve yet spent on this earth. In almost every picture taken that day, I’m wearing a face-splitting smile. Our guests sang the opening hymn, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," so lustily that our priest complimented them. His homily was perfect, although sadly I can’t remember much of it today. While we took pictures at the altar after the ceremony, the skies opened up and it poured dark rain. But half-hour later, when we stepped into Uncle Chuck’s old blue Mercedes to head to the reception, the sun was breaking golden through the clouds. Our reception, held under a white tent on the lawn of a Victorian mansion-turned-restaurnat, looked exactly as I’d hoped it would: candles glowing on the tables, white lights hanging everywhere, all set against a backdrop of green grass, green trees, and an old mansion. The DJ played only the songs we’d requested (there was no Hokey Pokey, no Chicken Dance, no bouquet toss, no garter shenanigans). People danced. Friends and fathers gave hilarious and emotional toasts. I wanted that night to never end.

We left for our honeymoon the next morning, setting out on a 16-hour drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we rented a beach house in the village of Duck. I still remember balancing my journal on my lap somewhere in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, frantically scribbling down every memory I could summon from the night before. I wasn’t sure what lay ahead for us, but I didn’t want to lose one moment of what had just passed.

Put plainly, our first three years of marriage have been good ones. We annoy the hell out of each other sometimes, but yet we can travel in foreign countries together with success. We make each other laugh and we make each other think. Sometimes we become frustrated with each other’s faults, real and imagined. I have been known to raise my voice. But when we argue, we have lines we don’t cross, and I’m proud that we stick to those. I think of our union as one of best friends, partners, lifetime roommates with “benefits.” It’s a model that works really well for us. Sometimes I look at him, and I know, in my mind and in my gut, that I’ve sealed myself to a person who will always be with me and honor the vows we made. And sometimes, when I’m kneeling in the pew after communion on Sundays, I pray for the humility and grace and strength to be worthy of that love, to not take that love for granted. It’s so easy to take love for granted.

I’m still not sure what lies ahead for us—we’re not even 30. But I’m beginning to realize that the unknown isn’t scary, and the unknown doesn’t really matter. Because whatever happens to us, neither of us will be alone. And when death does part us, we’ll have created something beautiful and complex and strong and weatherbeaten and true—a marriage—and it will be one of my life’s greatest accomplishments.

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