Marriage is hard.

That sounds so Women's Circle to put it that way, so simplistic and easily managed, but it is hard. It also sounds so frigging selfish and whiny. Boo hoo, poor me, I have someone to come home to every night and it's so hard. But again, the truth remains.

I'll tell you what's hard about marriage. When you get married, you're like a houseplant reaching for the sunny window, gradually swiveling to focus your attention on one small, radiant square. You don't quite notice how all your fronds now wave toward that one section of light, until one day the other, lesser used parts of yourself begin to wither and fall away.

At first you can shrug it off. You can tell yourself that any relationship requires compromise, that you're making willing sacrifices, that those leaves you're losing were never healthy, anyway.

Then you find yourself at the car races at Yakima Speedway surrounded by people in tight, bulging tank tops and grubby trucker caps carrying coolers full of Miller Lite and smoking cheap cigarettes, and you realize you are flooded with an incredible, inexplicable happiness. (For this to happen, you are no longer a plant. Stay with me here.) You are happy because a nearly atrophied, oxygen-starved part of yourself suddenly finds herself tingling back to life. You realize that to make this marriage thing happen, you have forgotten and abandoned lots of silly, seemingly unimportant parts of yourself, but here they still are! Still alive after being left in the dark so long!

But then (and here's where marriage is the real bitch) you don't know where those old parts of you belong anymore. They don't fit with the furniture. For instance, my happy inner redneck just doesn't comfortably jive with my liberal artistic household. I know how to shoot guns, drink a can of beer in a single breath, skin a squirrel, and drive a hundred miles an hour on dangerous roads, but these skills don't tie in with my current wife-and-mom role. Still, they're me.

But when you tie your life in with another person's life, both of you seem to leave parts of yourselves behind that just don't fit. It makes life easier, but over time, it starts to erode your soul--your roots, if you will.

I have done and been a lot of things in this lifetime. Wife-and-mom is still only a mid-sized portion of my history. I feel like the time has come to remember myself and turn my leaves back toward other sources of light.

Will my marriage suffer? I don't know. It might; but then again, we might be happier with one another if we are both living fuller, less entwined lives.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to the car races. My inner redneck says so.

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