June and I didn't really have a honeymoon, nor did we expect to get one. That's what getting married in the middle of the school year means. Not only did we each have classes to attend, but June is the director of the children's summer camp, so she's insanely busy right now. The summer solstice was on Thursday, we married on Friday, and the campers arrived on Saturday.
The only advantage to all of this is that June got lots of practice introducing herself as "June Kretzman" to parents (she decided to take my name because she says she's marrying into my family more than I'm marrying into hers, but the decision surprised me. I'd expected her to keep her name).
We did have a week in which we were encouraged to see each other freely, instead of our usual distance designed to give her space to move through the school's program on her own. So there's that. But our week is over now. Back to the grind, as they say.
Before our week was over, we did have one more event. It wasn't our idea--I think it was Allen's, possibly Kit's, a sort of post-wedding reception for married people only. So, last night,* June and I and a group of our fellow married people took our dinner and few extra chairs out into the formal garden to talk with one another about marriage, drink wine, and swat mosquitoes.
It is a fact of this place that mosquitoes are never considered a reason to not be outside. We cultivate liking to be outside, and that cultivation bears fruit in long, lovely purple June evenings and less than lovely little red welts.
I don't think it being the end of our first week married was exactly planned out deliberately, though we all decided we liked it that way. It's just that every day this week at least one person on the guest list had some other commitment. Monday was the only evening really open on the schedule, and neither Kit nor Allen are on campus on Mondays. They're both with their respective spouses. Tuesday is Philosopher's Stone Soup and it's the Joes' date night. Wednesday is group therapy, so not only is Allen otherwise committed, but so is June, and Friday is Dorm Dinner and Faculty Dinner. Thursday is still Thursday Night Jam, but Kit decided to leave someone else in charge of that and join us instead, which I really appreciated.
The group was me and June, Allen and Lo, Kit and Kevin (her husband), Security Joe and Cuppa Joe, Ollie and Willa, and my brother John and his wife. We'd invited Sarah and her husband, but they politely declined, citing the press of childcare and farm work, though I suspect they also weren't sure their opinions on marriage would really be wanted. And I hate to say it, but they might be right. I've heard they're not really sure whether marriages that aren't Catholic count.
"So, how do you like being married?" asked Allen. I've been getting that question a lot, and there's no real answer. It's like asking someone on their birthday what it's like to be a year older. It's just something they say. But Allen doesn't just say things.
"I'm not sure I know yet," I told him. "Nothing's really different. We don't live together, everything's busy, we don't...." I ran out of words.
"So, basically, you're saying you haven't had sex yet," interjected Willa.
"Willa!" scolded Kit, pretending to be scandalized, "Don't voice such...probably quite accurate assumptions!"
"It's not that we never have," said June, trying to cut through the laughter to defend our honor. Remember, this is a crowd that, except for Ollie, regards premarital abstinence as strange at best.
"Just not recently," I confessed. "You try getting amorous in a hammock full of mosquitoes."
"And ants. Don't forget the ants," added June.
"And it was hot," I added to her adding. "Choose between being in a sleeping bag and too hot to breathe, or being outside of a sleeping bag and chewed by mosquitoes and walked on by ants, and then try to have sex."
"I'd rather not," said Allen.
"I imagine it's different though," said Ollie.
"What's different?" I asked.
"Sex after getting married as opposed to before. I mean, I'm not the only one here who was raised to believe premarital sex is wrong, or at least...naughty. I'm not saying it is wrong, but can you ever really get rid of that voice of doubt, once it's implanted? Now, there's no doubt."
"I never had any doubt," asserted Willa. "But married sex is different because it's with you." She wrapped her arms around her husband's bicep, cooed in his general direction, and turned him pink with embarrassment.
"I had to get rid of a lot of voices of doubt, just to stay alive," said Security Joe.
"Is this what you really want to be talking about?" asked Kit, of June and I. "Sex?"
"No," I admitted. June shook her head slightly.
"Do you really think nothing's different?" asked Allen.
"No," I admitted. "I feel..more solid." I couldn't explain what that meant, though I knew Allen would likely ask, as "solid" isn't itself a feeling. "It's like this. June has always seemed like the most important person in the world to me, since that day in grad school." She took my hand. "But I never expected anyone else to take that seriously. Like, yeah, Daniel's going on about his new girlfriend again, or whatever. But now, she's my wife. No one can question that." I squeezed her hand back.
"Well, they can," interjected Cuppa Joe. "But that's what clocking people is for."
"I'm not your wife, I'm your husband," corrected Security Joe.
"Same diff, lover mine."
"Do any of you have any advice for us?" asked June. "I mean, this is new territory for us. Tell us about the view. What can we expect?"
"Expect it to be hard," said Kit, without hesitation.
"At least in the mornings," added Kevin, and Kit swatted him one.
"I'm trying to tell them things they don't already know," she said. "Anyway, there will be days when you want to get divorced--don't panic, that's normal. Wait a few days, you'll like each other again."
"I'd say don't forget you're married," said Allen, with slow thoughtfulness. "The way you are feeling right now--it's because you're thinking about being married. A year from now, you'll be thinking bout other things--"
"Oh, man, poopy diapers," put in Security Joe. "There is nothing so un-romantic as poopy diapers."
"I was thinking about ferret puke, personally," said Allen.
"I don't think they'll have pet ferrets," said Lo.
"Why not?" said Allen. "Ferrets are fine animals. Except one of ours has a puking problem lately. We'll probably have to take him to the vet...My point is that when you're thinking about ferret puke, your emotions are about ferret puke. It's not that love fades, it's that people think about it less and less, so they feel it less and less. You have to remember to think about love."
"I love you for cleaning up the ferret puke," said Lo. And Allen leaned his head on her shoulder for a moment.
"Does your both being psychologists make it easier?" June asked.
"It means we know bigger words to blame each other with," volunteered Allen.
"Complexes and syndromes and isms," explained Lo. "At least our fights are entertaining."
I asked Ollie what he thought.
"Oh, we haven't been married long enough, yet," he said. "I don't have any real insight. Except that thing about divorce is spot on."
"I didn't know you were thinking about divorce," said Willa, sounding surprised but not concerned.
"Not today. Two days ago, I was."
"Well, that's because two days ago you were crazy."
"Two days ago you were crazy."
"Are either of you thinking about divorce today?" I asked, expecting the answer I got.
"No, today she's the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Yes, I am. Ad you deserve every ounce of me because you're cute."
And on and on. It felt very much like being given the secrets of some club, some initiatory event, though there was no particular ritual to it, just a group of people sitting around, drinking wine, eating, and swatting mosquitoes--we did have a couple of citronella candles burning, and they helped a little. It was nice.
I kept thinking, though, that there was someone missing. Charlie. He woudn't likely attend a party with Kit, nor she with him, and most people would point out that he's not married. He's not in the club. Except he is married. And he's the one who taught me how to love in the first place.
*The "now" of this post is 29th of June, 2007, a Friday, one week after our wedding. So,"last night" is Thursday the 28th. -D.