Tuesday, September 26

do or die

i was at a wedding the other day in a gorgeous catholic chapel. candles and rings and vows and all that.

five years ago i planned on being married.

i’m not.

in high school i excitedly wrote down that i was going to costa rica to learn spanish and play on the beach.

i didn’t.

once upon a time i even told myself i’d not kiss any boys until i happened to be happily engaged to them.


everyone knows i’m not so great at keeping secrets. keeping promises, though... making promises comes easy to us. mum expects us to get the dishes done by the time she gets back from a meeting and we say sure thing. but do the dishes get done? best friend says meet me here at this time and we say sure thing, and we try and get there on time. boss asks for a report by this date and we have to say sure thing. and the report better get done. dad says keep out of trouble, lectures us even, on the many sorts of trouble and why it's so important to stay out of it. we listen. we nod. what happens when dad isn't looking?

promises and commitments and the whole planning thing... they tie us to specific bits of the future. they tie the future into knots we can handle. or try to handle. even though you don’t know if the sun will come up in the morning, committing to meet your best friend at half ten for shopping is something you can do. it’s easy. keeping that commitment is easy. usually. unless you sleep in. unless your mum demands that those dishes get done. in which case you’ll only be a little late. commitment is mostly kept, anyway. unless you come down with a highly-contagious flu. unless you get in a car wreck. unless the president of france calls and needs you and only you to save the world. right? lots of things are more important than shopping.

but what excuses do you come up with for the priest? you don't. he lays all possible contingencies in front of you at the altar. sickness. health. good times. bad times. rich. poor. happy. dying. you look at those words in your head and you still say i do.

it would scare me. the future is a scary thing.

there are a lot of promises you can turn back from. costa rica is just another place on the map and spanish is just another language. today i'd rather learn italian. today i've kissed two boys and i'm not getting married to either of them. i don't know how many more i'll kiss, but i'm not fussed about it.

there's a keychain on my red and blue tommy hilfiger lanyard, a metal star that says 'forever' on it. the bride at this wedding the other day, she was given the matching blue star that said 'friends.' i don't doubt that she lost it in a box in her attic long ago. that i've kept my half means very little. i was at her wedding, still her friend, but now she's in a different universe. she is mrs. kalli marie hahn now. she's got a little step-son. if we keep in touch any more now than we did in the four years since high school, i'll be very surprised.

keychains aren't promises. time is a noose. everything changes.

in such a world, where everything could be pulled out from under us at once, where every connection is so fragile and often so temporary... it makes me wonder how we are so brave to make promises at all, to anyone.

but the rules of the world give us at least some room for comfort and faith. the sun's been coming up for ages. so much responsibility is expected of us. if you are late meeting your best friend for shopping too many times, she'll perhaps quit asking you to come. then what?

there are a lot of cracks. they get into our minds and bodies and we are too weak to patch them all up before they make us ill or late or wicked. tying the future up in knots makes it easier to think about. easier to anticipate. easier to climb. easy enough? i don't know.

there are always excuses. favourite high school english teacher, the one who loved hemingway and fly fishing, he used to say 'excuses are for the weak.' if you don't get the essay done, just say, 'i didn't get the essay done' and take the consequenses like a man. right?

i don't know what that teacher would've said about the car wreck, or the president of france.

No comments: