On this day of royally wedded bliss, my mind wanders to thoughts of inbreeding. But also true love. And the commitment cemented by two willing (so I surmise) adults with good skin and many years of smiling and waving in their future.
I'm also reminded of some advice I once gave a friend who, like many men, could not decide if the one he was with was the one he should always be with. A difficult question fraught with complications.
The idea there is one person in the world we are destined to marry is a fantasy created by romance novels and Hollywood. Like an all-powerful diety in the sky judging us while creating fuzzy bunnies and causing earthquakes and tsunamis, it's nice but a little dangerous to believe in.
I'm as happy as I've ever been. I owe the vast majority of that happiness to my wife. We're as suitable for each other as I could imagine.
And yet there are 6.8 billion people in the world, 311 million in the United States. I took a job in New Jersey only because the one I wanted in Florida didn't come through in time. The girl I married just happened to work there. Fate? Bullshit. Just some good luck. But it's foolish to think if I didn't take that job that I couldn't have moved to Florida or Ohio or Mississippi (well, maybe not Mississippi) and found someone else suitable to marry. Or maybe I would have had to move around a little more before finding someone. Or maybe something else would have happened to lead me to shun marriage. Or to want to wait longer. Or to (I hope not) settle earlier for the wrong person.
Life does what life does. You can't really second-guess decisions while in the middle of making them. And by the time you know the right answer, years have past and there is no going back.
We only get one life. It would be great if I could spend one of them as a newspaper reporter married to a girl from Chicago and another as a touring musician married to the road and another as an organic farmer living off the land with five dogs and a pig. If we're lucky, we might be able to have two or three careers (though usually only excel at one).
Marriage is a little different. People grow old and grow apart. People die early. Some people aren't meant to marry. Men in particular, who seem hard-wired for a different template. I suppose living in a city exacerbates the problem, as you are surrounded by an abundance of possibilities.
It's like Blackjack. Many good relationships at first are like getting dealt 16 against a dealer showing a 7. Sure, you are supposed to hit, but that's a risk. And odds are you're going to bust before you even get to see his hand. But when you're young, you get more hands to play. So it's not necessarily a tragedy if you lose what you've got for the promise of something better. (Of course, in this analogy, you are tossing your hand away the second you decide to see another card. Very hard to keep what you've got while hitting on someone else, trying to reach that perfect hand).
Or maybe you've got something going that's more like 12 against a dealer showing a 4. Some risks are worth more than others. It depends on your mindset. If you like freedom, play it loose. But I think the point is that while you can almost always risk losing something solid for the hope of something better, at some point we all get tired of playing the game. And we settle.
This is a vexed word. Because while settling down -- in a relationship, in a shared home, in a more stable life -- we are also fundamentally settling on the person we're with. Some settle for someone less ideal than they should. This is for others to judge, more than the guy in question. But we ALL settle. There's something less than perfect about every girl on the planet. No matter who we are talking about. Jessica Alba, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier, Scarlett Johansson, Maya Angelou, Janine Garofalo, Condoleeza Rice -- whoever -- there is someone who is sick of fucking her. And sick of talking to her. Sick of something about her. But eventually, if they're lucky, someone will settle on her, too.
(The same applies to guys, of course. Likely more so. Guys are scum.)
I'm no one to offer advice or insight. But I suppose what I want to say is that happiness should not be treated lightly. If you don't have it, get it. If you've got it, keep it going. And have faith that -- because you are a kind and thoughtful person -- everything will work out in the end. And that there really is no end, except the very last one, after which nothing really matters anyway.