Just over a month ago, the Architect and I had our tenth anniversary of when we started dating in high school. And now this weekend was our first wedding anniversary. It was a lovely day. We went mini golfing and rode a carousel and cooked a delicious dinner and ate our surprisingly not-that-freezer-burned year old cake. (I was expecting it to be horrible. It was actually pretty tasty.)
Anyway, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about what marriage means to me, especially as it relates to living with my sister and our expectations to live together forever. Plus, bonus wedding pictures mixed in!
There is a story in Plato’s Symposium on the origins of soul mates. The story goes like this: Originally, people were these round blobs with four arms and four legs and two heads. Some had a boy part and a girl part, some had two girl parts, and some had two boy parts (because the Ancient Greeks loved them some homosexuality!). These people were very powerful, and Zeus was afraid, so he cleaved them in half to weaken them. After that, people went around looking for their other half in an attempt to once again be whole.
K is my soul mate.
Many people worry that it is cruel of me to tell my husband that he is not my soul mate, and when we were children our mother warned us that any men we dated would be jealous of our bond. But it is not cruel and doesn’t mean I love my husband any less. It is simply the fact that K and I were originally a round blob that was cleaved in two by the forces of our mother’s womb which left us two people who need one another to be whole.
The Architect and I spent five years of our time together in a long distance relationship, and K and I have been apart from one another for a total of about ten months of our lives. I can say with complete honesty that without both of them, I am lost, and I am incomplete.
K and I have planned to live together for as long as I can remember. Now that we’re adults, I can see all kinds of logistical benefits to the situation like shared living costs, increased resilience for the entire family in case anyone loses their job, shared childcare, and companionship. But the truth is that those reasons are not why I intend to live with K in my house as long as I live. I remember telling the Architect early in our relationship – probably three years in, which was long enough to know we intended to marry one another–that if he married me, it would mean living with K. That she and I were going to live together with our husbands and our children because we are family and that is what family means to us. He was opposed to the idea until later that day when I got heat stroke and I lay crying and shaking on the floor of my parents’ living room. K walked in and put ice on my wrists and I shortly felt better. He saw then that I needed her and that I would be happy with her and, by extension, so would he. That day he agreed to our bargain.
It is not uncommon for people to be completely shocked at this arrangement. When K recently told a coworker that she lived with her sister and brother-in-law, he said, “Yeah, you live with your sister until one of you gets married.” And she laughed and told him I already was married and there were no plans for us to maintain separate households. Even twins who live states away from their sisters sometimes tell us that we will have to cut the cord eventually. But why should we cut a cord that makes our lives richer and more joyous, that weaves the web of our family stronger and makes us into stronger people by virtue of providing a strong support system?
When we were children, we used to talk about how we have matching genes, and so, genetically speaking, our children would be half-siblings. We have always intended to love each other’s children as our own. And besides that, we are a family. Not just K and I or the Architect and I or the Artist and K. The four of us together are a family. We are a family when we wake up on Saturday mornings, the Architect and I make breakfast while K and the Artist sleep. And then we wake them up and they laugh and snuggle and act silly and it injects such joy into our lives. K understands me on a level that no one else ever could because for literally every experience of my life, she has been there. She has heard my stories day in and day out for nearly twenty-seven years. I have held her as she sobbed with heartbreak and she has told me I can handle things I didn’t think I could. The Architect makes me feel loved and he holds me in my sleep and he laughs at me when I dance like an idiot in the living room and he is my home. I said that in my wedding vows.
But there is an extent to which it isn’t home right now, with K living several states away. Yes, I have my husband who is my home and whose home I am. But home is where the heart is and my home is equally with K. And so I am lost in having too many homes that aren’t together.
On our wedding day, K was my maid of honor (of course). She was the one who asked the Architect if he took me to be his lawfully wedded wife because as my twin she is the one who will watch as he holds me in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. She will watch over our arguments and help translate them for us. On our wedding day, after I kissed the Architect and we walked out of the circle our ceremony was held in, I turned to look back at the circle of my family and friends, and K was sobbing. I immediately left the Architect’s side to rush to hug her. I needed her then, and I needed her to know that I would always love her. She is almost as much a part of my memories of my wedding day as the Architect is.
But still, it was my wedding to him, not to her. So I will finish this post with a copy of the vows that I said to him. Vows that brought on the winds and a stamp of approval from the forest itself. The Architect nourishes me spiritually. I love him. I love her. I love my family.
My wedding vows:
I will never forget the first time I told you I love you. Ever since the first day I met you, and you asked me for a smile, I had always known you were different from everyone else. But that day, I saw your home. I saw the way that you and your family treasure your belongings and your house that’s practically a museum and your fireside dinner conversations. You walked me around those forty acres, showed me the history there. You showed me the trees you used to climb and the branches where you did your homework. You tried to teach me to climb a tree, but a branch broke out from under me. You caught me.
That day, I learned to understand you. I knew why you are so different from everyone else, why you care so deeply for everyone you know even slightly, Why I want you to be in my life always. That day, the words “I love you” slipped out of my mouth the way I slipped off the broken branch: suddenly and by accident.
But the fact that I love you is no accident. I have loved you since even before I knew it, since 9th grade gym class when I told all my friends that I somehow wanted to take care of you, and how silly I felt about that because you were so much stronger than me. And you are strong, both physically and emotionally. But I will be there for you in your moments of weakness. I will tell you I love you on sad nights when you reveal to me your deepest insecurities, and when we deal with our lives’ greatest tragedies. I will hold your hand on life’s long journeys and when the branches beneath your feet fall suddenly away.
Then, when those same branches are strong, I will hold you as tightly as I can and smile. I will tell you all about the wonderful new things I am learning, and I will push you to learn the things you want to learn. I will dance and make silly faces to make you laugh in the living room, and I will laugh at the quiet asides you murmur to me during group dinners. We will make things together, and discover things together, and I will rediscover myself every two days, and you will discover things and annoy me by showing them to me every two minutes, and we will be home together.
I want to finish these vows with a poem that has always made me think of our long, fruitful and beautiful future together. As you hear these words, remember: as your wife, I will help you to harvest the comfort, joy, and passion that life can hold.
I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our bodies
(that room that will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room that will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed your
feet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o’clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
*Poem by Anne Sexton and Entitled Us. All photographs courtesy of Meghan Hayes of Meggi Leigh Photo