That they should aim rifles
My brother got married this weekend. It was a stressful thing, for many reasons, but ultimately things went well and nobody started inappropriate levels of drama and my brother and my new sister-in-law got to enjoy themselves and celebrate their moment.
I'm sitting in a Super 8 in central Illinois, nestled between a highway and a railway, trying to put together my feelings into some kind of story, but I'm having a hard time. When I first started writing this, I was inspired by Athena Kildegaard's poem "Cherries," but as I'm sitting here to pull my notes together into something semi-cohesive, I'm realizing that I'm not entirely certain which part of the poem brought me to the comparison. There was something about the image of simultaneously making the best of a bad situation and the worst of a good one that struck true, but while I can feel that story, I'm having trouble telling it.
My brother and his new wife have actually been together for longer than I've been with G, so it's a little disingenuous to say that there's much "new" about their relationship now that they've married. She's been part of our family for a long time. But to me, what happens with marriage is that you take a relationship that was ultimately about two people and make it about a bunch more people. You become legally intertwined with families and government and all kinds of other things--it's about making a two-person relationship into a social and political unit. These two have taken on the task of carrying the weight of a lot of people's issues in order to pull them all together, and that's brave, bright, terrifying work. It's work I've never been able to do. I admire them for that, very much.
I chafe at the concept of doing things strictly out of obligation, for a lot of reasons, but for all that I was worried about coming, there was no sense of obligation here. I know what it's like to be trying to build a family out of broken parts, and I decided a long time ago that no matter what else went on in the lead up to this event that I'd be here to make sure they knew I saw their work as important. Marriage is so often also about trying to build something sturdy out of pieces that don't always work together very well. The date for this wedding was set more than a year ago, so they didn't know it would be taking place in precisely the dramatic environment it ended up being, but they knew already that both families had their quirks. The thing is, because of the work these two have done, I think everyone who showed up knew that. There was a concerted effort from almost everyone to keep the tone celebratory, and that feels deeply meaningful to me somehow. They brought out the best in us because that's what they do.
And so I got the impression that we all made an effort to take the burden from them, at least for this one day. It wasn't their job to hold us all together; we held together on our own so they could take a minute just to hold each other. I think, for the most part, we pulled it off.
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