July 27, 2023

I always blog on our anniversary. This, I suppose, is obvious, as I am clearly thinking about marriage, our marriage, and the nature of intimate relationships. And I am, as always, grateful for my spouse and our partnership. As I’ve mentioned many times in various blogs, our marriage has not always been a cakewalk. But, our marriage has always been one of love, stubborn commitment, honesty, and persistence.

This year, I had a lot of interesting and mixed feelings about our marriage. Not about us, nor about our partnership, but about twenty-nine years. Yup. Just the number. Because, y’all, that’s a lot of years. We have long past the point of being together and married longer than we were ever single. We have been through quite a few phases of marriage. We weathered ups and downs – more than once. We have been friends, best friends, acquaintances, enemies, lovers, partners, and adversaries. We find ourselves empty nesters, and enjoying a new sort of comfort and ease, kinship, and intimacy. But still, twenty-nine just kept nagging at me.

Where do I begin and end? Who am I outside of my spouse? How can my life be understood without him?  Is there an individual Sarah anymore? Or just an amalgamation of SarahJoe? And what does that mean? How do I feel about that? Because right now, twenty-nine feels both lovely and scary. Both beautiful and co-dependent. Both deeply intimate and logically practical. 

Of course, I shared this with my husband. He listened, but I could tell it didn’t really resonate with him. Instead, over our weekend get-away, a cocktail, and some good New Orleans grub (compliments of an excellent chef in Wimberley, Texas), he told me a bit about Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” More specifically, he talked about “being someone.”

Now, many of us, especially when younger, think being someone means somehow transcending our location, economic circumstances, or social circles. We might entertain ideas of fame or achieving a degree of expertise in our careers. We want to be known. We want to be seen. We want to be someone.

But the truth is that the older I get, the years have granted me some wisdom. And being someone to the larger world means less to me. As my husband talked about Chapman’s lyrics, and the layers and layers of meaning woven in them, he became teary. Being someone, he said, was to look at me and know he was my someone. Being someone, he said, was for me to know that to him, I was his someone. And, he added, isn’t that, in the end, the greatest gift?

Well, then. Yes. Yes, it is.  

It’s true there is no way to understand my life without understanding Joey. I am who I am because of him. And at a deeply theological level, God is the great “I am.” There is a certain sacredness in our partnership, a holy and mystical understanding of him, me, and us that is daunting and mysterious. I am . . . because of my spouse. He is . . . because of me. I’m still unraveling this a bit, and making sense of the individual and the collective. But as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pulling me out of the restaurant and into our future, twenty-nine suddenly seemed too fast a car. Speeding along, being someone to someone.