When Two Becomes One

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.

Two birds. Better than one.
Two birds. Better than one.

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.


30 thoughts on “When Two Becomes One

  1. Beautiful posts! I can totally relate, since Joe and I moved to different states shortly after we were married. I’m not gonna lie — it’s super hard — but in that weaving of two different threads, it’s worth it to preserve that individualized self in the end.

    I just attended a wedding this past weekend, and the officiant likened a marriage to music (the bride was a violist). The pastor said that if both partners play in unison, the song is not very exciting, and also, playing in unison brings out all our wobbles and flaws. What is far more interesting is playing two different melodies together. That’s what I hope for your marriage too! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! It’ll be hard, but I also know we’re strong enough and secure enough to handle it. Thank goodness for email and Skype! And for Joy the Baker’s Single-Serving Chocolate Cake!

  2. This is so beautiful. First of all, I also had the most insane dreams in the six or so months leading up to my wedding. I remember telling my mom and my sister about them at one point, and they both had the dreams as well. So I’m pretty sure it’s completely normal. The second I got married, the dreams stopped, and I haven’t had one since. I just love the idea of two people weaving lives together using different color thread. I think about this a lot. For us also, two is indeed better than one. Joining our lives together has been a magnificent adventure, but it was also vital to us to keep big chunks of our independence. Just like you, we both have passions that require us to walk away from each other from time to time, but it really works for us. I think that it has made us both stronger as individuals and has made for a stronger marriage also.

    1. I’m glad to know it’s not just me with the crazy dreams! Thanks for the kind words about the post – that Nigella Lawson essay just hit it home for me last night.

  3. What a beautiful post! It’s so important to remember not to lose one’s identity when “cleaving” to one’s spouse. Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials!

  4. First of all, best wishes for your upcoming nuptials!

    And I love the image of weaving with two different colored threads. You get the most interesting patterns that way, you know.

    Before we had kids, I used to enjoy the occasional times that my hubby was away — I’d cook with tomatoes and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream because he hates both of those things.

    Now that we have kids, I dread his absence. I need him there to balance me. He can sense when I’m about to lose it and he sweeps in to take over. I do the same for him. We know it won’t always be this way, but until the kids are a smidge older, it just works better to be a team.

    Happy New Year!

  5. I have the utmost respect for military families. I think I’m too needy for that kind of life! Hope your wedding day is gorgeous, and that you get your guests to do the wave ON PURPOSE because, come on, how great a memory would that be?!?

  6. Your dreams are so interesting! I would like to do my armchair psychologist analysis of them but we don’t even know each other so I’ll not do that!
    I’ve never heard that rhyme before about marriage but it does make sense; your updated version is even better though. In the early days of my relationship and marriage I really didn’t have many of my own ideas. Now I’m older and wiser (and greyer) and learning to be my own person is much better for both of us.

    May you have a wonderful marriage!

  7. “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.” This is one of the most beautiful lines about love that I’ve ever read.

    Doing the wave at your wedding…haha!

  8. This is such a beautiful post. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness together and apart.

    P.S. I think you should do the wave at your reception.

  9. It sounds like 2013 has so much in store for you! The great blessing of a marriage, a wonderful trip, and getting used to being alone. I wish you well in all of it!

  10. I’m pretty excited to hear about your new adventures, despite the fact that you’ll be cooking for one. This is due, in part, to the fact that 2.0 travels a lot and I could use some additional single-gal recipes in my repertoire. So… could you get on that for me?

    (FYI, I adored this post.)

  11. I wish you all the love and wonder that Paul and I have found in our marriage. Paul will leave for a week at a time for work, and while I miss him, it is my time to write. We understand what each other needs and understand that when we’re apart, we can still grow and enjoy ourselves. I don’t know how to explain it other than it is a mature love, one not based on possession. It sounds like you and Amanda have that. Congratulations.

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