Friday, August 16, 2013

A Second Act for a Wedding Dress

A few days ago, I wrote this post about my wedding dress and other clothing metaphors.  I've also been writing about sorting and discarding.  I hardly have enough room in my closet for clothes that I wear all the time.  I knew that my wedding dress would have to go.

I have a friend who's working on an MFA in the visual arts.  She's doing all sorts of cool projects, and she's also working with an MFA student who's doing film projects that sound interesting.  She said, "We need a wedding dress for our project.  I'll buy your wedding dress from you."

I said, "You don't need to buy it.  I was just going to throw it away.  I have to warn you though, it's not in great shape.  It's got lots of spots on it."

She said, "That's fine.  It won't come back to you in the same condition.  We're going to make art with it, after all."

"I don't want it to come back to me at all," I said.  "Do whatever you like with it."

Yesterday morning, we met in a parking lot--no need carrying a wedding dress around buildings, although that might be an interesting sociological experiment or an art project of a different sort.  While I waited for my friend, I shook out the plastic and the dress.

My friend came to our cars and exclaimed over the beauty of my dress--even in its less-than-pristine condition.  Once again, she warned me that it would be used for art.

I said, "The idea of this dress being used for art makes me so happy.  It's better than having it molder in a landfill somewhere."

I can hardly wait to see what they do with my dress.  I love the idea of it being made into something new.  I love the recycling/repurposing element.  I'll plan to do a follow-up post or two, once they do their art.

I like the idea of wedding dress as art as a metaphor too.  My spouse and I just celebrated 25 years of marriage; like the wedding dress, our marriage is not the same as it was 25 years ago.  It hasn't changed so dramatically that we don't recognize it.  But it's different.

My dress is different now, and I expect it's about to become more different still--much like the two of us as individuals and much like our marriage.  It won't surprise me if I like my wedding dress as part of an art project better than I liked it as a simple dress.

Our current incarnation of our marriage is better now in so many ways than the marriage we enjoyed in the early years.  Marriage as art form--ah, so much could be done with that idea.

It will probably not surprise faithful readers that I've written a poem that covers this idea.  It has yet to be published, and I wrote it years ago.  So, here, published for the first time, I think, is a poem that celebrates the many kinds of marriages we're all likely to experience, if we stay with it for long enough:

The Art of Marriage

I am tempted to say, as everyone says,
“Marriage is hard work.” And everyone leaves
the matter at that, as if all is explained.
Hard work—evokes factory lines and mind numbing
routine, which marriage can certainly be: the factory
work of the same old argument that a couple has at least once
a quarter, as dull and repetitive as bolting
part after part to automobile after automobile.

Thankfully, my marriage doesn’t involve
much of that kind of work. Some years, the work of marriage
breaks my back, like clearing land for a garden.
I lie awake and sweat out possible solutions
to our problems, how to keep the family fed
and sustained until the present trauma subsides.
And if I can endure the pain, the flowers
bloom beautifully, and our love feeds on fresh vegetables.

Too often, if I’m not careful, my marriage resembles
the kind of work most of my friends do.
They show up at an office, keep their seats warm
for the requisite hours, and claim their paychecks.
Nothing heartbreaking, but no passion either.
A companionable way to fill the hours.

At its best, marriage is an art form,
the musician bent over the instrument,
the artist splattered with paint,
the poet drunk with words.
I submerge myself in my art,
lose track of time, and look up to celebrate
my fifteenth anniversary.

And now, 25 years!  Hopefully, we'll have many more, and hopefully, they'll be healthy years that are full of happiness.


Paula Gillam said...

All those years ago you referenced your "marriage as an art form" . Just so interesting what life has in store. The art project sounds so engaging in this context. Please post the images when you can.

inab said...

I remember well the day we bought your beautiful dress - waiting to see its incarnation...