My feet floated above the pavement. I walked on air. I was in love. I was desperately happy. For 3 days, I existed in happy anticipation of THE CALL, the phone would ring, it would be HIM and he would ask me out on my first date. As a bespectacled and somewhat overweight teenager, I had not had the experience of boyfriends talked about so eagerly by mates at my all girl school – this blind date I had taken to our school dance had been a miracle of communication, interest and happiness. I was in bliss – all stories of princesses and princes had come to their climax in me. Now happily ever after could begin.
Wednesday, no call. Thursday, no call. Anxiety sets in. Friday no call, desperate despair approaches. Saturday no call. The axe falls. Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday – the bleak days stretched out before me, my feet plodded heavily and miserably to school.
Although we went out for more than a year, the bliss never returned. Criticism of his purple jersey hurt my ego, innocent fumblings in the car repelled me. After I rejected him, I was amazed he chose a lass with bigger legs than mine; he married and became a small town doctor, a wonderful man of intelligence and independent thought.
My steps were light, the grass seemed greener, the sky bluer. The constant state of anxiety about the financial future which had bedevilled me for the last 20 years of my adult life had evaporated with my new status – Married. At last. A longed for feeling of emotional security came with the ring on my finger, I felt carefree.
Years passed. We began to live in separate spaces, sleep in separate beds. The ring represented a cultural security and pacified the vile feeling of failure I had internalised in my youth. The endless need for emotional security went unfulfilled, it was a boundless pit. I became resigned to living “low on the hog” . Life was too often a dreary effort to make money, although there was much of beauty in the landscape, friends and the Consolations of Philosophy.
Why did I allow beauty to be defined by magazines? Plump, bespectacled, white – I longed to be the athletic, tanned Evinrude girl; her long hair waving in the wind as she held on to the tow bar and skied the waves.
Why did I accept the passive romantic role assigned to women? Having waited to be chosen, my own choice would reveal itself in dissatisfaction with the men who chose me. Cruelly I dismissed them. My instinctive choice was for that which I could not have.
Why did I accept a material definition of success, and reject it in a too long prolonged teenage rebellion against said definition? This was a recipe for going nowhere.
Marriage is sacred. Marriage is for keeps. I married a good man with his own flaws, together we are finding the way forward. After 20 years of marriage, I recognise my dissatisfaction with our status quo was a projection of my own lack, a transference blaming my incompleteness on him, rather than where it belongs – in myself. We are rocks for each other to cling to in the storms, now that our dreamboats have foundered on those very same rocks.