In recent (and, if I’m honest, not so recent) months, Katie and Abby have had frequent conversations about the people in their lives whom they deem to be marriageable material.
(I have no idea where this came from.)
Abby’s young enough still that her list often includes such people as her dad or her brother or her uncle or the little girl she met at the park a few months ago and hasn’t seen since, but Katie is more wise to the world. She knows relatives and those who are already married are unavailable. She considers whether the person in question will be a good Dad, whether she likes his family, whether she thinks he’s nice. She’s been known to change her mind, writing someone off for one reason or another.
She’s very logical about it all.
A few weeks back, she was talking to one of her aunts and me about this very topic, explaining her reasoning. I pointed out that maybe (just maybe) she should spend her time elsewhere, thinking about other things. Her aunt took a different approach.
“Katie,” she said, “In ten years, do you think you’ll look back on yourself at eight and think that you knew all you needed to know to make that kind of decision?”
When July rolls around, Jonathan and I talk about renewing our contract.
“What do you think?” he says, a smile in his eyes. “Should we re-up? Or do we need to renegotiate terms?”
(It’s a joke, of course, a light-hearted way for us to start a conversation about what’s worked in the last year, a lead-in to talking about where we’ve been and where we’re going.)
(I recognize, too, that having the kind of stability and the kind of relationship we do, the kind that enables us to tease each other in this way, is a gift. I don’t take that for granted.)
We told Katie, her aunt and I did, that we are always learning, always looking back on what we knew
ten five one year ago and marveling at how much we didn’t know. It never stops.
In Think Again, Adam Grant talks (a lot) about learning to rethink our conclusions. In one chapter, he makes the argument that discovering we were wrong is not a bad thing–it means we’re growing. “If you don’t look back at yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,'” he quotes one of his high-power business interviewees as saying, “then you must not have learned much in the last year.”
It’s true, though I have a hard time giving my past self the grace Grant encourages. I look back at what I said, what I did, what I thought, what I wrote, and wince at all I didn’t know.
(Which, I know, will only continue to be true.)
Fifteen years ago yesterday, we said, “I do.”
There was so much we didn’t know. About the world, about life, about ourselves. Those years have brought their share of heartache and joy, laugh lines and wrinkles and gray hairs.
If you asked me now whether I knew everything that I needed to know then to make that decision, a part of me–the part of me that likes to have all her ducks in a row, to have it all figured out, to not be wrong–would say no.
But the better part of me would say yes, yes, a milllion times yes. Yes, I knew enough to say, “I do.”
In the future, I’ll look back on who I am at 38 and marvel at how much I don’t know. But I DO know this man, this marriage, this love.
No matter what tomorrow holds, I know enough to say this:
I do, still.