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Re: Boring (A Request)

(A couple of days ago, a link to this blog post came up in my Facebook feed. I read it, fought back a few tears, then posted it to my father's wall because I knew he would want to read it. When I popped in at my parents' house later that day, we had a long conversation about it that ended with him asking me to write something about it. Since he doesn't often ask me to write something, and because I was already starting to do so in my head, I agreed. It's long, but you're welcome in advance.)

I want to say that what I'm about to write about is one of those moments I remember like it was yesterday, but it's not. It was a rare moment, but not because of how well I remember it. It's more like the moment was rare because I work in a largely testosterone-driven office, and an early morning conversation with the one other woman who works with me in the editorial department without the guys around is a truly rare moment and a truly precious gift.

In what might be deemed a typically female fashion, we came around to love and marriage philosophies, and I ended up sharing the short versions of my grandparents' wedding story, my parents' wedding story, and even my older sister's wedding story. My co-worker found them all terribly romantic.

Would it make me a horrible person if I admitted that I can't remember a time where I thought those stories were wildly romantic?

After that conversation, I came to the conclusion that the reason why I don't feel that way is because the classic fictional romanticism in them is real life. My grandparents eloped on Grandma's high school graduation night. My parents married less than six weeks after their first date. One of Grandma's sisters married a man about twenty years (give or take) her senior, which makes my older sister's marriage at nineteen to a man nearly a decade older than her not seem so crazy. Oh, yeah, and Mom's baby brother didn't marry until he was nearly forty.

When it's a part of your family's history, you either wildly romanticize it or don't think about it much because it's just normal. Plain Jane.

Boring.

The truth is - I didn't know how Grandpa proposed until after he died (even though I believe Grandma wrote it into the family history), and I'm glad I didn't know. While I might be guilty of having completely forgotten, I don't believe I've ever heard the story of how Dad proposed to Mom, and, yeah, I'm glad I don't know. The only reason why I know how my brother-in-law proposed to my sister is that I happened to be the first person to answer the phone when my sister called to say she was getting married. I'm thankful I do know.

Now, I know how odd it all sounds - hardly like a woman that believes romance exists. It might even earn me a black mark of cynicism right next to my name. Don't you believe, Cat? Why don't you believe?

You may not believe me when I say this, but I do believe in romance. I just see it differently.

Sixty-five years is a long time to be married, and Grandma married a dairyman. For sixty of the sixty five years they were together before Grandpa died, he was equally married to the dairy and to the land that went along with it. But the blond haired, blue eyed young man who asked a brown haired, blue eyed girl if their children would have blue eyes while they were driving along Central Avenue became the man who walked with her through the devastation and grief of losing their second son within hours of his birth. The young man who stood waiting with her outside the preacher's house the night of her graduation while her sister's boyfriend woke the preacher up became the old man who stood with her in the middle of the dance floor at my cousin's wedding reception with swinging hands (because neither one of them wanted to dance). Grandpa loved Grandma so well that even five years after his death, she still glows like a woman who is well-loved.

Thirty-seven years (and counting) isn't anything to sneeze at, either. When Mom married Dad, she married a military man. But the twenty-three year old young man who married a twenty-year old young woman he hadn't known for six months less than a week before he shipped off to boot camp became the man who left the military so he could be with his wife and family. The young man who teased and flirted with her when they worked together (yes, Dad, I'm calling you out) is the man who flirts with her and teases her across a few feet of living room today. The little boy whose parents couldn't make a marriage work became the man who wouldn't let his marriage fail.

You see, I'm okay with the part of Grandma's story where the closest thing she heard to a proposal was the question of what color eyes her children would have. I'm okay with not knowing how Dad proposed to Mom. I don't have to know how Grandma and Grandpa got married to know that they got married. I don't have to know how Dad asked Mom to marry him in order to know that he asked her.

I have a hard time seeing viral proposals that vie for the title of most creative as incredibly romantic because it's not an accurate measuring tape. Putting the time in, sticking with something when the odds are against you, and seeing it through until 'death do us part' - that's where the romance is. Proposals are (usually) a one-time occurrence. Weddings are (intended to be) a one-time affair. Marriages are a life-time commitment, and the romance is in the months and years of deepening that commitment whether it's smooth sailing or rough waters.

No, I'm not married. My hope (should the day come where that changes) is for a romance like my grandparents. Or my parents.

And I hope yours is the same.

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