I swore I’d never marry

Posted on 13 June 2005

“Tempus fuit”… Time flees…

I woke this morning, thinking of Rob. Thirty-five years ago, in a long white dress, empire waist, puffy sleeves, with rows of blue flowers running down the length of the swiss cotton (to show I wasn’t traditional) with a matching white Victorian cap tied under my chin, I met Rob, in his borrowed suit and orange shirt (to show he wasn’t traditional) at the altar of a Unitarian church, where we swore to love and honour the other “till death do us part.”

Afterwards, we celebrated in the garden of my parents’ Toronto house with family, relatives, and school friends (we had just finished our first year at Ryerson.) We left our guests happily mingling and drinking and caught an overnight train to Montreal where, in a restaurant, Rob said, for the first time “my wife will have….” And we smiled broadly at the other.

I swore I would never marry and there I was, at twenty-one years, marrying a man (a herring-choker no less) I’d known just over two years.

Over the years, there have been times when we’ve both, individually or together, despaired about our marriage. We separated once. We missed each other. (I suppose I should speak for myself.) I missed his calmness, his solidness, his tenderness. I missed the ease of being with someone whom I trusted, with whom I did not have to play guessing games. I missed his down-to-earthness, what I call his Maritime-ness.

And since… well, sometimes still, I despair and want to shake him… and sometimes I do, demanding that he talk to me, tell me what he feels in his heart and his soul… and he apologies for not being able to express himself. And I say that’s not good enough, he should push himself as I have to push myself; and then he’ll send me a poem. How can I not adore a man who sends me poems? Earlier this year, he sent me “A Dedication to my Wife” By T.S. Eliot:

“To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
     The breathing in unison

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without the need of speech
And babble the same speech without need of meaning.

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only”

So yesterday, I sent Rob a dozen roses and today I received a heart-felt email and another poem. Yes… after thirty-five years, he still knows how to move me. And come what may, I love him.

Tonight Gill and I will go out and celebrate her father, my husband. (Those of you who know me, know that I hate the word “husband” because, in my mind, it connotates ownership and dreariness – and this I do not feel about Rob. I prefer spouse or partner – a person I choose to be with for practical purposes – and then lover – a person I choose to love, to reveal myself to. But I use it today for Rob – to make him laugh.)

And my days at Castelnau are quiet and lovely. Our daughter, my precious daughter, makes the meals and cleans up afterwards. I think and read and do everything but write. The other day I decided I did not want to be a writer out of sheer laziness. I just want to be quiet without pressure. And I think that this is all right for me at the moment. I have been too busy. And so I play in the house, rearranging and sewing, reading several novels.

On Saturday, Gill and I drove to Toulouse and explored our favourite haunts (Galleries Lafayette and Habitat to name two) and yesterday, I went to Saint Antonine with Susan and David. The market was, as always, overflowing with people, and overwhelming to the senses – the produce is freshly picked and tastes heavenly – exactly as you dream a peach should taste or a strawberry, and even a common potato or tomato tastes better than you could imagine. And the long spice table – each one displayed in a brown paper bag – overpowers me as I walk by. And the olive table – so many varietes… And the pates and wines and… oh how I love this market.

Afterwards, Susan and David leave me at the side of a country road – secluded, overgrown with wild roses and other greenery – and the only sounds I hear are birds and bees (I’m serious) – and my friends take off together to walk and I sit quietly on the ground on their sleeping bag and write in my journal. I am breathing easy.

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