Wednesday
Mar212007

« Brokeback Marriage »

I just watched Brokeback Mountain again after not seeing it for a number of months. I restarted my Netflix account after a school semester and a few months of doing a lot of work moving house and all. Brokeback was the first pick in the new movie viewing season. I guess I just really dig the movie because it just speaks to the ache that people have to be who they are and to be in the midst of those who understand that and support it. It is very existentially exciting to live in that realization. And I guess it doesn't matter where your love comes from. In my certain way, I can understand that. I never really thought that a movie such as Brokeback would resonate with me such as it seems to for me right now. But it does. And it's not that I am leading a closeted gay life. No, Brokeback is about security within a safe relationship—both knowing it and fearing its loss and walking the line between following one's bliss (being true to oneself) and sucking it up and playing by the rules of a society that isn't made to understand real freedom and the various dimensions of love.

I love being married. I love it more than anything else. I love it more and more all the time. Yet my love for it is borne out of failures heaped upon failures. Only my grandparents served as models for a long term marriage, but I can't pretend to have taken detailed notes from either one of them. But I do let their nearly 62 years of marriage inspire me. I think there is a lot of marital psych talk that is bullshit but so far the winning formula for success has been to anticipate and to meet the needs of your partner first and foremost. I find myself lamenting the dwindling of my musical "career" over the last few years, or lamenting the loss of certain people who played some roles in my life that I thought should never have ended. Some were full blown imaginary relationships, others were closer to reality. But in the past five years or so since Kelli and I paired up, all that has been on the wane, maybe just relegated to memories. The thing is, Kelli replaced it all in the best way possible.

Kelli and I had a long relationship of friendly platonic relations for years before we got into our present type of love relationship. She was a "church girl" so at least we were off to a good start. We met up over the years and always had some sort of contact that evidently was more profound than we realized. We laughed and cried into the nights, partied, or did some church stuff, or talked music, or whatever. We drank beer and shot pool, never realizing we'd be married one day. I never realized that the relationships that fell by the wayside were the ones that prepared me for being with her.

ed and kelli in love, all soft focus and closed eyes and shit. ed's head on kelli's shoulder as they're laying down.My non-musical present life is not such a loss when I reflect on how I used my music, studio, and the gigging life of the late 90s to move further and further out of relationships, into more and more depression and a darker and darker place. I used all that stuff like a drug to disconnect from life, while telling myself that I was thriving, doing my own thing, being my own person. For me at least, individualism and consumer materialism were leading me to death. None of that would lead me to where I wanted to go. Now I consider Kelli more than just my wife. I consider her my home. My safe place to be myself. If that entails giving up the isolating experience of locking myself in the studio for hours at a time and cooking up dissonant music, then so be it. If it means selling off the material items that once were supposed to bring me some happiness, then so be it. The stakes are raised now because over the course of the five years that we have been together, and a few years before that, I have watched my own blood relatives either die a real death or a figurative death in my life. All of them. Some have been more destructive than others on the way down, but essentially, they are all dead now, even while they still walk the earth and own property and eat food. It is what appears to be a reality I need to accept. Not one of my blood relatives could be persuaded to come to my wedding in 2004. Each has slowly checked out of my life until they all are gone. Oh, there might be some out in Ohio or somewhere, but I do not know them so they are out of the scope of this assessment.

So for me, sort of like the guys in Brokeback, the new family is the one that gets it; the one where it is safe to be all of oneself—all the joys and confusion that accompany that. And for me, Kelli is the one living being that fills that bill for me. But it wasn't just that we had all those years to get to know each other. We still had to do a lot of the stuff that most couples have to do as they find their stride, and none of that was easy. But the cost of giving up was too high for us, so off to a couple years of therapy we went, and moving a few times now has been something that almost wrecked us but ended up working in our favor as we had to work out all the things that go with that change. I feel sorry for the people who get married and somehow feel that they don't have the partner as their best ally in life, then feel that divorce is the way out. Maybe the materialistic society has made it too easy to expect that something else will come along that can replace that relationship. I don't mind being "needy" in a relationship, nor do I bristle as much as before at needs of Kelli's being expressed. From our two years in therapy, the overarching thing I got from that experience was that marriage is the place to meet the needs of the other. In doing so, the feeling of safety can descend over both partners. To that end, all my energy is being put into this like my life depends on it, and in many ways it does. If I had to live life realizing and counting back to myself how many friends and family have checked out of my life, I'd be done if somehow I couldn't put that in the proper perspective with Kelli as the centerpiece of life now.

It is interesting how Brokeback Mountain ended. Ennis Delmar's daughter announced her engagement. After he momentarily held on to the past pattern of isolation that had sustained him thus far, he let go of all that and finally became the father his daughter needed. He pushed aside work and the relationship with Jack to be where he was needed most at that time. I reckon he finally knew the pain and joy of love and finally felt that it was his time to give back.

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