Brig, Matt, Molly, and me
I've been trying to take it easy since I got back from Canada, but I had one more bit of traveling almost as soon as I got home. My old college friend Carl L. was getting married to his old love Kari in Portland on July 23rd. I was feeling so wiped out I almost decided not to go, but then I asked myself, "When will you get a chance to see Molly again?" So it was the reunion of old college friends that inspired me to jump on the train to Portland.
Molly was basically my first girlfriend, and amongst other things we lived in the High House with Carl in I believe 1981. When Carl and Kari visited me on my previous trip to Portland, Kari and I figured out that I had actually first met her at Molly's wedding in the 1980s. Molly was instrumental in bringing Carl and Kari together both back then and in their more recent reconnection. Molly is a writer too and a very good one, and I always expected that she'd have sold a novel by now. We talked about that and about how career and children got in the way, but she also told me that she had finally, after years of trying, found a publisher that was willing to look at one of her manuscripts, so I wish her all the best on that front.
I hadn't seen Molly since our old college friend Brig got married, oh, maybe fifteen years ago? I hadn't seen Brig since then either, and I didn't expect to see him at Carl's wedding, since I had asked Carl whether he'd be there and Carl had said no. Well, it turned out that someone else couldn't make it, which opened up a seat for Brig in the tiny pioneer church where the wedding was held. Brig is someone I went to high school with, but we didn't become friends till we went to the college. It turned out that he was throwing a party later that day for a bunch of old high school classmates and I was welcome to come over and play if I wanted to. I didn't want to. For one thing, it sounded like they would be drinking more heavily than I was up for at that juncture, and for another I'm really not very interested in my old high school classmates. For me high school was a semi-traumatic experience that I happily left behind. Brig was from a social group that I think enjoyed the high school experience much more than I did.
Carl and Kari dance at the post-wedding reception
The wedding ceremony was beautiful and very romantic, telling the story of how Carl and Kari have renewed their love over the years while other things came between them and marriage until now. Carl is my age (mid-fifties) and this is his first marriage. Kari was married once before and has a 19-year-old daughter (who sang "Amazing Grace" at the ceremony, alone and a capella, which I thought was extremely brave of her). I found the ceremony a little uncomfortable, especially coming in the wake of my trip to Canada, because the love story presented was very similar to the one that Hortensia and I tried to tell when we almost got married following our reconnection in 2003.
Still, I was very happy for Carl, who is a total sweetheart in my books. I hope he and Kari can live out the rest of their days together, happily ever after. I don't know Kari nearly as well but really enjoyed chatting with her on my previous visit to Portland. She seems like a pretty grounded person with a good sense of humor.
Me and Molly after all these years
It was great to see Molly too, although it inevitably inspired other thoughts about my so-called love life and What Might Have Been. She and Matt have two children, Patrick and Isabella, who were both there as well. I believe Patrick is in his early 20s and Isabella is about to graduate from high school. I look at Molly and Matt and think I couldn't have done what they did. I couldn't have been a father, or at least I never wanted to be one. Why not? Why did I go down the path I took, in which I developed occasional uber-romantic infatuations which rarely developed into any kind of real relationship?
My sister and I have discussed this several times, and she, who has also mostly stayed out of realtionships, says it's a preference we have. There's something to that. I've said before that I don't want a co-pilot. I don't want someone with whom I'm constantly negotiating decisions. I want to be independent and do whatever the hell I want to do without argument.
But there's more to it than that too. There's the romanticism. The idealism. The impossible desire for connection with the perfect soulmate. The resulting disappointment and loneliness. I've learned to live with the loneliness, because the alternative has been self-hatred, and fuck that noise. But there doesn't seem to be any resolution of the conflicting desires -- for independence and for romantic submission -- even at my advanced age.
So the old thoughts and feelings tumble through me endlessly, and the nostalgia of a reunion with old friends stirs up ancient dilemmas.