I remember very little of my wedding day..it was typical; I was in white and probably not fooling anyone in attendance and Brian, looking much younger than his 25 years, appeared terrified in his black tuxedo. As a child, a teenager, and a young woman I never, ever once dreamed, awake or asleep, of my wedding day. I never planned to get married; I never felt undeserving, just that it wasn’t a life for me. I envisioned a life alone and I although I wasn’t altogether fine with that lot in life, I was resigned to it. It wasn’t open for discussion or examination; it just was.
When I was 19 years old Brian Taylor walked into my freshman English class, long hair flying and a careless gait that I never gave a second thought. I sat in the back of class, he in the front, and we never spoke to one another.
Four years later, I saw Brian in front of Cherry Hall, smoking a cigarette and as I extracted one of my own from a depleted pack in my purse, I called him by name and asked him for a light. After he assessed that I wasn’t a stalker, he acquiesced the requested light and I had one of the best conversations with a stranger I’ve ever had. I have no idea what we talked about, I just remember how I just wanted to hear more of what he had to say.(We have since then, kicked the filthy smoking habit!) Our conversation lasted only fifteen minutes and as he walked down one side of the hill, I descended the other. I spent the better part of four years speaking very little to anyone, as was my nature, but felt I had said in fifteen minutes what I had wanted to say to someone for four years. So I guess it wasn’t what we said, but the fact that we each had found someone who wanted to hear what we had to say.
I left for Fairfax County, Va. In May of 1995 and easily found my way into a relationship with a man who’s sole purpose, I believe, was to destroy me from the inside out. Corny as it seems, in my darkest hour, I thought of Brian and wondered what happened to him and if I went back, could I find him. It wasn’t his looks–he was gangly, longhaired and skinny. It wasn’t talent; as far as I knew he didn’t have any. I didn’t recall that he was especially funny.
With the help of family and friends I left Virginia, my sanity and emotional well being but ghosts left forgotten in a cruel man’s dusty house.
I began work as a “copy consultant” at Kinko’s and on my first day I see Brian Taylor. I nearly fainted. After a few days and with all the courage I could conjure, I approached him and, again, called him by name. I received the same look I had gotten two years earlier; I was either a stalker or a drunken mistake he didn’t remember!
Once again, after he reassured himself I wasn’t insane, a friendship ensued. When he asked me out a few weeks later, I wouldn’t give him an answer for a week. I wasn’t fully convinced I was even being asked on a date and felt presumptuous saying yes, as I wasn’t sure what I was saying yes to…a real date? Or something more casual? My fragile ego wasn’t ready for either. Finally, he asked again…and we began dating. Within a month, I knew I was going to marry him. Sure enough six months after we began dating he proposed, I accepted, and six months from that day, we were married.
Our life has been one of poverty and comfort, fear and courage, exuberance and sadness, painful separations and joyful reunions, immaturity and growing up, but with love as the constant. Both being the youngest in our families, we learned quickly the hardship of having to care for an infant many miles away from a wise grandmother. Neither of us had much more than held a baby, much less kept one alive for any length of time. But we managed, sometimes with moments of shining brilliance; other times I’m sure leaving her in a tree in the woods for the fairies to rescue may have crossed our minds….but of course, only fleetingly.
Our newlywed years are behind us now, but when I look at him, I still see a boy of barely 25. Today he is unshaven, his short is hair messy, and as he adjusts his glasses when he reads, I find his unpretentious, absent minded professor personae endearing. Without even trying, he makes me laugh til I cry; without even telling him I’m tired, he lifts whatever burdens I may be carrying that day. He’s good that way…
As we embark on the next phase of our marriage- those twenty or so years before retirement—we no longer rely on the superficialities, pleasantries, and strange politeness of years ago when our marriage was based solely on our fidelity. A mortgage, bills, debt and a daughter have taken a front seat to late night talks, dinners alone, and lazy weekends, “sleeping” in til mid day. But we still get glimpses of what brought us together- he listens when I drone on and on about what I want to be when I grow up. I encourage him to discuss his provoking thoughts on God and government. I “tune” out his practicing the violin in the middle of the living room; I eat with gusto each new recipe he tries. With time we have kept the kindness, left the awkward politeness behind, and when things get difficult, we find a reason to fall in love again; each passing year producing different reasons.
We now have a ten year old embarking on teenage angst in a few short years. My husband can take a computer apart and put it back together, can effortlessly change a tire in the pouring rain, and can drive on a solid sheet of ice in a blizzard for hours. But neither of us has ever raised a teenage girl…much less kept one alive for any length of time…
As I’ve said before, I remember very little of my wedding day, but each year of our 12 year journey has burned into my memory the sound of Kate’s laughter when Brian does the “dad dance”, the sight of my husband when he gets off a plane after being gone a year, and the wonderful smell of a house that he cleaned because I was just too tired to do it.
Happy wedding anniversary to us and here’s to many anniversaries to come, my brilliant, funny, talented, adoring and adorable husband!
©Mary Flanagan Taylor May 24, 2010