I was on the west coast this past weekend to attend the wedding of my best friend from high school.
Killyin, the great ladies' man, the fellow once bemused by all trappings of pomp and circumstance, the most mischievous do-gooder I've ever known and the old friend I was most sure would see forty as a bachelor, got married. They had an elegant modern Catholic wedding. The hilltop reception in the northern California hills inspired ubiquitous envy. I was honored to be a groomsman and I gave what was, in my own opinion, a glorious toast, greeted by a combination of uproarious laughter and unblinking stares of reptilian noncomprehension.
Killyin is wed. He got hitched. He settled down. He became a family man. It blows my fucking mind.
Not, mind you, because it was him, in particular, that went down the aisle. It could have been any of a handful of my closest friends from high school or college. No, it's just that the whole thing make me feel more painfully grown up that I'm really ready to be. I've had other friends get married but none that I knew so well, none that I considered a reflection of myself, none who expected me to put on a tux and give speech, none who's nuptial made me so painfully aware of how far we've come from being children.
It's not that I see anything wrong with marriage or family life, I'm just sure that I'm not at all ready to start a family of my own. I started my adulthood younger than most. I moved out of the house when I was still seventeen. I put myself through college with narry a dime from my parents. I've held a full time job since the day I graduated high school. All that and, so near as I can read myself, I'm still years from wanting to be married.
Am I unconsciously extending my bachelorhood because I spent to little time as an adolescent? Am I one of those guys that will just refuse go grow up, content to be just barely more than a boy for my whole life? Am I the only sane one, standing back while everyone rushes to the altar? Am I too much the union of romantic and pragmatist, waiting for the unlikely someone with whom I can fall madly in love whilst workably sharing financial, familial and cultural responsibilities? Am I just too much like my father, who married for the first and only time in his late thirties?
I choose to think that it's because I'm both practical and ambitious. I know that my career does not, presently, facilitate such things. The financial instability of a freelance profession, the fourteen hour days and six day weeks while on a job, the months away from home, the missed birthdays and skipped anniversaries, the stress of a job that demands flawlessness and the fact that, when time off comes, I'm just oh, so tired, these things do not make for a stable family life. In my business, to succeed, one must forsake everything else. Most people find this a burden but I don't. This is how I have chosen to live my life; it's the career I've wanted since I was in the fourth grade and I've resolved never to belabor or regret it. It's as much a part of who I am as family life would or could be.
That's why, despite two long and fulfilling relationships, both with exceptional women that I will always adore, I've never really taken seriously the idea of getting married. I don't want to be the husband or the father that's never there, that sees their children grow up from afar and ends up not knowing their own kids. I also don't want to be the guy that surrenders his ambitions for his family, that takes the sure paycheck and never tries anything new for fear of loosing the house or of not being able to pay for braces. Noble thought that is, I'm watching too many people my own age as they do exactly that, resenting every moment, destined to die secure and miserable.
Is that selfish or is it wise? Is it selfish wisdom?
In any case, they're a perfect couple and I wish them both the best. If anyone can make it, it's them. It's going to be a while before Killyin has to rent a tux on my behalf, though.
To the newly minted family, Salud, Mazel Tov, Brightest Blessings. I love you both.