Monday, May 10, 2004

The san(ct)ity of marriage

They popped the question again.

We were in Ottawa, celebrating my boyfriend's mother's birthday. His family would have preferred that we were there to celebrate my mother-IN-LAW's birthday, though, and they made that clear.

After a nice lunch hosted by the "Uncles" (two men who've been living, traveling and presumably sleeping together for more than 30 years now), we bought some shitty gelato and went for a stroll along the Ottawa canal. The city is currently hosting the tulip festival-a colourful, yet painfully dull annual event. The city itself breeds mediocrity.

Sure it's multicultural and has lots of government funding. Sure everyone there has a job and a multi-level brick house with stone pathways leading to frosted glass and brass front doors and loon-print welcome mats, but I'm not ready for my 2.5 kids. I'm just not interested.

My boyfriend and I walked hand-in-hand and his brother walked alone (since his girlfriend wasn't able to come along and his wife has been out of the picture for years). My un-in-laws also walked together. Surely they'd have held hands if my boyfriend's dad had been able to stop taking pictures. The Uncles never walk too close to each other, and never hold hands in public.

It was later that night, following another meal of so-so Vietnamese food, that the un-father-in-law cornered me.


The way he drew the word out was meant to prepare me, I think.

"Have you two made any decisions about your relationship yet?" he asked.

I was relieved that my boyfriend was there to share the pressure with me. Last time they tried to get me to confess that I craved stability and the only way to really get it would be to convince my boyfriend to marry me. Until then, I don't think it had occurred to them that I didn't want to have a wedding either.

That first conversation was almost as uncomfortable as when the aunts referred to their non-Catholic nephew as an "idiot" and then remembered I was there.

This time, I shared the stage. My boyfriend's mother laughed nervously and his brother cackled.

I considered sharing my reasons for not wanting to get married. I thought of pointing out that the fact that two men who've loved each other for more than three decades aren't legally able to marry, and that if marriage isn't about love it must be about economics.

Considering my priorities--the things I believe will make me happy--if I have an extra few thousand to spend on a wedding, that makes me a complete friggin' moron.

To those of you who are married, I respect that. It was a priority for you. But, this is more in line with how I feel:

Traveling somewhere tropical, enduring 19-hour flight delays; helping each other through lonnnnng nights of the Shits because we ate the 'special' meat on some remote island; almost being arrested while driving through the mountains in BC because of mistaken identity; being sponge-bathed to bring down a three-day fever of 104 F-and-rising in NYC during 9-11; having the air let out of someone's bike tires because they disrespected me; having my '67 Schwinn fitted with the original handle grips of my dreams; having the house filled with ginger flowers when I return from a trip; choosing the perfect tiki lanterns together on Ebay...those things hold more weight for me as a symbol of everlasting love and affection than trying not to get too drunk on bubbly before the white-dress ceremony.

It's just hard to tell that to the Filipino-Catholic not-yet-relatives. They are so big on symbols of commitment, on official contracts.

And that's exactly why we settled for life insurance policies instead.

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