During times of big change and transition in my life, my dreams go completely bonkers.
Exhibit A: The other night, I dreamed that it was my wedding day. Amanda and I are planning on walking each other down the aisle (in our actual wedding), but in the dream, when the music started, Amanda just took off down the aisle without me. When I started down the aisle, I found there actually was no aisle. It was a big bunch of chairs, heavy metal ones, all clustered together. The officiant noticed and suggested people move a few chairs so I could get through. The room was shaped oddly so that I could only see half of my guests. And as the ceremony began, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the most ridiculous part: the fifty or so people gathered for the wedding were doing the wave. Row by row, they were standing up and doing the wave. I didn’t know whether to be mad or impressed.
Exhibit B: Amanda is wearing her formal dress blues in our wedding, and in my dream the other night, I had her hat (they call it a cover) on, trying to figure out how we would pin all of her hair up under the hat because I was under the mistaken impression that her hair couldn’t be down. And since her hair is shorter than mine, that was going to be a problem. And I couldn’t find her to ask her about the issue, so I was in the mirror, cover on my head, bobby pins sticking out of my mouth, and bits of hair falling out from under the hat.
I can only assume I’m having these dreams because a revelation came upon me recently: I’m going to be a wife in 2013. I’m getting married this year. Holy crap.
The circumstances of our wedding are interesting – we’ll get married, about a week later we’ll set out driving to move cross-country to California, and within a month, Amanda will start work with her new squadron, beginning a series of work-ups and underway periods leading up to a deployment towards the end of 2013. We are getting married, moving to California, and then I’ll actually be without her for long periods of time.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and I remember marriage being described as the time you leave, cleave, and weave. You leave your family, you cleave (or adhere yourself) to your spouse, and then you weave your lives together. Essentially, it’s the process by which two separate entities become one unit.
But what’s weird in this case is that after we cleave, Amanda will leave. She’ll come back, and she’ll leave again. That’s the rub with being a military family. We two will become one. Then the Navy will call her away. And then it’ll be just me. One.
Last night, I read a lovely essay by Nigella Lawson (girl can cook and write!) called “One.” It’s about the moments in life when you find yourself alone for dinner. Nigella admits to eating the single girl bowl of cereal or having pizza delivered, but she also cooks. And more than just obtaining nutrients, cooking for yourself is a way of getting to know yourself:
Real cooking, if it is to have any authenticity, any integrity, has to be part of how you are, a function of your personality, your temperament. [...] It’s how you’re going to find your own voice.
These days, I mostly cook for Amanda and myself. I relish entertaining, cooking bigger dishes, but it’s not the norm. We’ve gotten good at making a chicken breast stretch between the two of us, at fixing a pot of soup and eating on it for days.
When she’s away, I’ll be cooking for one for the first time in several years. I’ll likely halve those soup recipes. I’ll eat the single girl bowl of cereal. I’ll have cake for dinner (even though Amanda says I shouldn’t). I’ll answer to my base cravings. I’ll find my own voice. I’ll be a one until she comes back and I can cook for two again.
Cooking for two is just an amplification of cooking for one (rather than the former being a diminution of the latter). [...] Many of the impulses that inform or inspire this sort of cooking are the same: the desire to eat food that is relaxed but at times culinarily elevated without loss of spontaneity; the pleasure of fiddling about with what happens to be in the fridge; and, as with any form of eating, the need to make food part of the civilized context in which we live.
Though I’m given to moments of melancholy and fear and anxiety, I know I’ll be okay. I’ll have my writing. I’ll have cooking. In a way, I find that Amanda and I both have passions that require us to walk away from each other for a time. She is passionate about her career, and in a way, she likes deployments; not being away from home, necessarily, but carrying out a task, traveling, seeing the world.
I am passionate about writing. I have to walk away and stare out windows and imagine characters as if they were real people. I have to talk to myself.
So even as two become one, we will still always be two. It’s something I didn’t understand when I was younger – three words, leave, cleave, and weave, a little rhyme to instruct you in marriage. But it doesn’t quite capture the truth of marrying two independent, unique individuals. We’ll weave our lives together, yes, but we’ll use different color threads so that we can see the bits of me and see the bits of her. We’ll join together, but I think for us, two is better than one.