Friday, February 12, 2016

Raggedy Ann

The last time I was single, I was 19 years old.

I look at that number and can't make it real. I don't know how to wrap my head around the different person I was. At 19 I lived in 4 rooms and slept on a mattress on the floor. Everything I owned was a hand-me-down. The only things that I own now that I also owned then are Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy.

When a marriage lasts as long as mine did–and I'm going to count the 9 years we were together before we got married–one really does cleave unto the other. You become one flesh, from sheer attrition. A long marriage is a unit, Plato's half-spirits joined.

It isn't that from the start. At the start it's just an experiment: sex and a fight over whether it matters that you never screw the toothpaste cap back on, or make the bed. At ten years it's a really long date. At 20 it's comfort. At 40 years you don't exist without the other. I don't mean that in a bad way, or that one personality is subsumed into the other. It's that the shared experience is of such long duration that it becomes a single memory. It's marital Alzheimers-- half my memory is gone.

Raggedy Ann has been sitting on my shelf for almost 60 years, but Raggedy Andy had gone missing. While I was spring cleaning the house this year I found him. They sit on my shelf, together again like they were when I was 19.