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It's our 14th anniversary today. We had the smarts to get married on St. Patrick's Day in 1990, which means that as soon as I start seeing mention of green beer in the newspaper or on TV a small still voice in my head starts speaking... “Anniversary, anniversary, anniversary.”
The photo above shows two people who had known each other for about eight months before they got married. And I proposed to Laurel after only about three or four months. The exact date is lost to my memory, probably in part for psychic protection reasons, because the proposal was embarrassingly unromantic and incoherent, being more a spontaneous outflowing than a carefully-planned event. About all I remember now is that when I was through speaking what I thought was a proposal to Laurel she looked at me and said, “Did you just propose to me? I'm not sure.” Poor girl. After forty years of being single, she deserved better.
Back in 1990 I listened now and then to Dr. Laura Schlesinger on the radio, she who would “solve” complex personal problems phoned in by desperate listeners with a few glib, preachy commandments. One of her oft-heard Relationship Tenets was that no one, absolutely no one, should commit to a serious relationship, not to speak of getting married, until some ridiculously long time had passed after a divorce—a year, I believe, maybe more. The notion seemed to be that a person can't think straight, or trust their feelings, until some sort of lengthy psychic cleansing/healing process has taken place, which can't be rushed.
When I met Laurel in July 1990, some five months after my separation and subsequent divorce from my first wife, Sue, I was thrilled to learn that she had a master's degree in social work, and was a counselor for an educational service district. I too had an MSW! Never really used, admittedly, because somehow it took me two years in a school of social work to realize that I didn't like talking to people about their problems. But still, I had the degree, and she had hers. So between us we had the credentials to take Dr. Laura's advice and stuff it where it belongs—underneath all the other pseudo-scientific claptrap that purports to provide guidance about how people need to live their lives.
There are no rules in love. Laurel and I have proved that. Almost as soon as I met Laurel I knew that she was the woman I had been wanting all my life. And she still is, fourteen and a half years later. How long does it take to recognize the One? No time at all. That's why she, he, or it is the One. Everyone or everything else is a pale imitation, shadows without much substance.
So here's my advice: if you happen to be reading this, and you're confused about where to go with a personal relationship, don't listen to supposed experts. Well, you can listen to them, just as you can listen to friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers you meet on the street. But don't trust them. Listen to your heart (note: the heart is above the sex organs, and speaks to you in a different language, that of love, not lust). You might make a mistake, but at least it will be your mistake, not someone else's. If you're going to be a fool in love, be your own fool, not Dr. Laura's fool, or some counselor's fool.
Happy St. Patrick's Day. Have a green beer and toast rushing recklessly into marriage for us. We'll feel you as we lift our cranberry juice-filled glasses to each other tonight before we dig into our tofu-turkey dinner.