Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Feeling independent
I have been thinking a lot about independence, given the time of year. When I was much younger, I exercised my own independence by quitting jobs and ending relationships several years in a row on the Fourth of July.
Looking back, I am not certain if it was by design, or coincidence. Chances are I quit the jobs because I was protesting having to work on the national holiday and the relationship exits were probably equal parts alcohol and fireworks. At any rate, I have matured in both my work and personal relationships, and it has been decades since I quit either in July.
On the other side of Independence Day is the realization that wedding season is in full swing. A lot of people seem to be getting married.
This past weekend, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of his former football players — an honor to be included, without question — but in saying yes to that wedding, we missed vows being exchanged by another couple we love, taking place the same day, an hour apart. Logistics made it impossible to attend both services.
I have missed more family nuptials than I have attended — distance and dynamics play a part.
Last month, my niece remarried in New York. I was a bridesmaid in her first wedding a quarter of a century ago and was sad to miss bearing witness to this one. With all the knowing and wisdom 25 years and one divorce will get you and from a vast distance, I wished them the best.
My husband and I actually had two celebrations. I jokingly say he wanted a small wedding and I wanted a large one, so we had both, but the truth is a bit more complicated.
It was early 2001 when he proposed.
On a romantic evening in February when he asked, I answered, “Yes, but not right away.”
It was one sentence. My idea of “not right away” was after the kids all graduated from high school. The youngest was six, so I thought I was buying some time. My betrothed thought “not right away” meant not that night (or the next day).
I had been divorced for five years and I loved my independence. My first marriage was not a good one. We struggled long before we ever said, “I do.” A more mature and wiser version of myself would have called it off before it began, but I was neither wise nor mature.
We negotiated and set a date for the following June. I was dragging my heels, more than a little “gun shy.” (When you have survived a burning building, the idea of playing with fire can be a bit intimidating.) But we decided to start looking at houses in the area and making plans for family and friends to gather.
It was August — a mere six months into the engagement. We found a house that would fit all the children (his five and my two) but we were in a quandary. We did not want to live together, but we did not want to lose the house.
It was our therapist who suggested I get out of my own way and just marry the guy sooner rather than later!
“What are you waiting for?” he said. “You are just confusing the kids. Are you really committed or just playing at it? Get married already.”
“But I have family coming from across the country,” I said. “They can’t get here in a week.”
“Why not have both?” he said. Why not, indeed.
Taking the plunge
Within 10 days, we held a small, private ceremony in the backyard of our future home. We did not tell anyone except our children, parents and our closest friends who were given a job — attendant, photographer, DJ, officiant. It was intimate and lovely.
The following June, in the same backyard, 180 of our closest and dearest gathered together and celebrated in style. Our counselor performed the service. If that did not give me the confidence to know I was moving in the right direction, I don’t know what would have!
Now 16 June’s later, I can’t imagine life without this man in it. He is my partner, my friend, my support and my biggest fan.
Long ago I admitted he was right. He wisely pushed, and we took the plunge. As it turns out, getting married when we did was not soon enough.
I hope the many couples who married recently stay the course and honor the vows they exchanged so caringly. I hope they are patient and kind and forgiving. I hope they allow the storms and ride them out.
I thought I was giving up something when I said yes. In reality, I gained more than I could ever describe. Somewhere along the way I realized being independent did not have to mean being alone. Not if you are doing it right.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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