We can never judge the lives of others, because each person know only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.~ Paulo Coelho
I recently went to a wedding in Selma, Alabama. There is always a different feel about marriage and family when you go to a small town. More specifically, a small southern town. The wedding felt like it came right out of the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Everyone was very friendly. The whole southern hospitality saying came alive. I went to the wedding with by boyfriend Mike, and our friend Adam. We arrived early the night before the Rehearsal Dinner. The bride’s family was hosting a cocktail party for the guests. When the three of us arrived we were the only guests in town on the groom’s side. Which means it was us three being entertained by the town of Selma. After the party, Adam, Mike and I were talking about all the different people we met. There were doctors, lawyers and people who have lived in Selma for generations. Adam and Mike were commenting on how many times they were asked what they did for a living. Not an extraordinary question, but a conversation I was left out of. I wondered why I hadn’t been asked what I did…a bit thankful at that, but nonetheless, people weren’t as interested.
I attribute this observation to two things:
1. I can have more interesting conversations with people than Mike and Adam. Therefore, know one had to resort to the old, “So, what do you do?”
2. Perhaps, because the south is very traditional, and it was clear Mike and I were an item, it wasn’t as necessary to know what I did for a living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming sexism (the bride is a well-educated, hard working dentist) all I’m saying is in a traditional setting it’s not as important for a woman to have a career. Perhaps, it was assumed that I would be having the children and quite possibly rearing them as well; while Mike would be bringing home the bacon.
This brings me to another observation. When we were at brunch with all of the guests, Mike and I met a women named Peggy. She was very sweet. She came right up to us and introduced herself. After she learned we were a couple, she asked if we were married. When I said, “no,” she quickly regretted asking me the question and apologized. I told her not to be sorry, and made a joke about Mike praying every night that I would marry him. She asked us how old we were. At the time, I was 30, and Mike was 34. She responded, “Well, that’s okay,” as a note of reassurance. I knew if I looked at Mike we would start laughing, so I avoided his eye contact (so as not to be rude to Peggy) and I heard Mike reply, “I think so too.” She then responded with, “You will at least get married before you have children, I hope.” We looked at each other, now with smirks on both of our faces, Mike asked me if I wanted children, I said, “I think so. Do you want children?” He said, “Yeah, I want kids.” He thought it would be appropriate to have the discussion, now that the subject was on the table…
We told Peggy it was nice to meet her and headed toward the rest of the guests. I’m not sharing our conversation to show how backwards I think she is or, more so, how backwards she must thing we are. However, it is interesting how people have certain ideals when it comes to marriage. It seemed as though it was such a way of life for Peggy to see a couple our age and assume they were married, that she felt apologetic when we said we weren’t. She looked at me when she said she was sorry- as though it must be Mike’s decision (or, maybe none of these things went through her head, and she apologized for being too intrusive). I didn’t mind the questions, it just seemed like I wasn’t getting the answers right.
Nonetheless, I liked Peggy. I appreciated her concern not just for my lifestyle choices, but also for the future of my bastard children. Bless her heart.