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Showing posts from June, 2009

The Acrobat

Imagine: You're at the circus, sitting under that great red-and-white striped tent, watching all the glitz and spectacle.  Kernels of popcorn fall from your mouth because you're so mesmerized by the sparkling parade of elephants in the center ring.  Then with a grand flourish,  the ringmaster bellows into his great yellow bullhorn and the spotlight slides up and up to illuminate the band of acrobats waving from a tiny platform.  A thin metal wire stretches before them, and one of the acrobats steps upon it, far above the ground.  You lean forward in your seat, captivated.  With barely a wobble, she successfully crosses to the other side with a small bow; at the second platform, she's handed a long pole to balance in addition on her walk back.  And then her fellow acrobats pile china plates on the ends of her pole, and her arms begin to shake from the weight as she carefully turns to cross again.  As the trick becomes more precarious, your popcorn bag is forgotten, scattere…


Six months ago I put on a white dress and a ridiculously high pair of heels.  I walked down the aisle with my father wearing my mother's veil.  I met Dave at the altar, and we read the vows we had written to each other in front of nearly 300 of our friends and family.  I walked back out of the auditorium with Dave as "First Kiss" from The Last of Mohicans played over the sound of clapping.  We got out to the hallway and hugged each other until our attendants followed, shrieking with happiness for us.  I remember looking down at my new ring through the happy tears and spluttering, "Oh my God, it really happened!"  There was joy, such an awesome amount of joy, in those first five minutes.
But there was no magic.
Let me explain.
I was raised in the church by Christian parents and graduated from a Christian high school.  At every moment in my young life, the wonder of marriage was on a sacred pedestal.  Living together with someone "in sin" was the unthinkab…


Every time I go to West Virginia it seems that I am being adopted by someone else's family.
My high school friend Tabatha brought Amy and I down the week after our graduation to spend a week on the holler where her mother's side of the family lives. I talked Tabatha and Amy into piercing my ear for me, which I quickly regretted with loud obscenities when they picked a needle too small. Later that summer, my dad's then-fiance Leah drove us down to her parents' home for a weekend of card games and adventuring in the woods. That was the week Josiah convinced me to bike down their steep gravel driveway; I came limping back to the house with a bloody hip after I used it as a brake.
This past weekend I was officially adopted into a happy mess of McCray, Matheny and Mitchell relatives at an annual family reunion that Dave's Granny Rena and her cousins hold in their small birthtown of Nitro, West Virginia. The wide Kanawha (KA-NAW) River cuts through the soft Appalachian foo…

Day 170

Marriage is:
Like Popping Zits: After an hour-long conversation in the car with Dave, I realized the relief I felt after talking everything out was the same feeling I have when I drain a big pimple. This is the grossest and most effective way I can illustrate what marital conflict is like. Everyone who's endured adolescence knows the different classes of pimples: the surface whiteheads, the simple but deeper blackheads, and then - The MegaZit. It hurts,  it's bright red, it's perched on the tip of your nose, and  you have to wait 3 days before it's ready for you to do anything about it. And the more potato chips and HoHo's you ingest, the more frequently and grotesquely do you break out. But think about it: there are the "whitehead" moments, where you ask each other nicely to please stop leaving cups all over the living room because it's irritating. Then the "blackhead" arguments, at which point you have to talk through your annoyance and a sc…