A friend recently asked me if I think I’ll ever get married again. At the time, I hadn’t given it serious thought, so I told him I didn’t know and continued to avoid thinking about it. I’ve had plenty of other things to occupy my mind, like completing my move out of my house in Wisconsin. Jeff and I made lots of memories together in that house during our nearly 10-year marriage, and I dreaded facing those memories this past weekend. However, the memories that most affected me while I packed were from long before I met Jeff. And while facing those memories, I found my true answer to my friend’s question.
My maternal grandmother’s name was Dolly, and she was magical. She was also very well known as one hell of a cook, and she used her culinary talents to bring people together, especially her own family. With seven adult children spread across the country from Connecticut to California, it wasn’t a given they’d all come home to Ohio to celebrate Christmas. Many of them had young families of their own, and, as in all families, not everyone got along. But grandma exerted a strong pull. Her months of preparation culminated every Christmas Eve at a bountiful table set with her cream and gold wedding china and overflowing with the delectable results of her hours in the kitchen. For the short duration of that meal, all differences disappeared and we came together as a family. Those Christmas Eves are the happiest memories of my childhood.
When Grandma Dolly passed away in 1998, my mom packed her china away. I was in college then, so I had little use for the ornate dishes, but thanks to my mom’s foresight, they eventually made their way to me after I settled in Wisconsin. Most of the time, they were simply tucked away on one of the highest shelves in my kitchen, safely separated from their everyday counterparts. This past weekend, as I carefully wrapped each piece in newspaper or bubble wrap to protect it during my move out of the house, all the magical family memories grandma created when I was a little girl collided with my current reality, and I sobbed as I placed each dish in the cardboard box.
I’m 36 years old. I’m going through a divorce. I don’t have a home of my own. My future couldn’t be more uncertain, but I still believe in the magic of family. I’ve witnessed it from my earliest years, first in my grandmother and now in my mom. They both nurtured in me the ability to create that magic, and I still want the opportunity to put it to use. I still want to fulfill my part as a wife, mother (or stepmother), sister and aunt who trusts in her ability to bring people together as a family.
I won’t be approaching every potential relationship I have with marriage on my mind because that’s just psycho. But, yes, I do hope to get married again, though I’m in no hurry. For starters — and this one is a no-brainer — I need to finish getting divorced. Even more than that, I have to be absolutely certain that the relationship has the right elements to allow me to be fully myself within it, and that it challenges me to grow. And that I do the same for him. Time is the only avenue to figuring these things out, and true magic is worth waiting for.