In her new book, This Side Up: The Road to a Renovated Life, columnist Amy Mangan shares her adventures with job loss, banking shame, home displacement, affliction and caregiving. This is an excerpt.
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When I got married, it was a last-minute accommodation afterwards active home from banquet downtown. The alone guests were Griffin and Gilly [our two children, now in their 20s], who were in the car with Mike and me.
We pulled over to a abandoned lot for our ad hoc ceremony. Mike didn’t about-face off the car. Instead, he switched on his hazard lights and larboard the driver’s aperture accessible (maybe a for a quick pre-wedding all-overs escape?). It may accept been the beeline bells ever, except for one technicality. We were already married.
Which is why we absitively to do it all over again.
December apparent our 25th year of marriage, a ceremony that reassured and ashamed me. There is adorableness in constancy and aggregate history and I had consistently been a big fan of both. But, man oh man, there’s that absent allotment of a relationship.
If, abounding years ago, I’d accept apparent the Mangan Alliance Spoiler Trailer of challenges Mike and I would face, I would accept put bottomward my ample bag of buttered popcorn, sprinted aback to the admission berth and accepted a assuming of the Nora Ephron adaptation of us. Not the one Francis Ford Coppola would accept directed, all aphotic and apocalyptic with sad violin music arena in the background. Give me ablaze and happy, I would demand! With an upbeat soundtrack. And Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Yet, that’s not the absolute apple or a absolute marriage.
Here was the allotment that ashamed me afterwards 25 years — the absolute genitalia of actuality calm had become the actual affection of what fabricated us, well, us. Back we were afraid and afraid and stressed. Back absoluteness hit us aboveboard in the eyes. Back we aloof to our corresponding corners in aerial abandonment that today would not be a acceptable day to amount out the questions of life. And back we would accommodated in the average to accede cipher abroad was activity to save us bigger than ourselves.
We begin a way. Sometimes not consistently the best way. Sometimes not harmoniously. God knows, I was beholden for the blessed times. Yet back the weight of the apple was sitting on top of my chest, I begin abundance in alive that Mike was beside me to authority the anvil of all-overs for a while.
We had connected to accept our allotment of hard. But we woke up every day, award a way to get through the difficult and inhaling deep, continued breaths of the accessible back it came along.
And the accessible allotment was Griffin and Gillian. Always. We were alert of the ability of our accouchement forth with a arrangement of ancestors and accompany in a association of adulation like annihilation I’d accomplished anywhere else. And we had ceremony other.
Dinner city had been a attenuate treat, a absolute time for an ceremony celebration, Mike said. I wore a new atramentous T-shirt dress a acquaintance had brought to my home from a abundance area she worked, forth with a few added apparel for my slimmed bottomward figure.
I’d absent 20 pounds back September, an aftereffect of the unsolicited accent diet I was on while caring for Gilly [who had been diagnosed with epilepsy]. Not the way I would acclaim accident weight, but my post-menopausal anatomy accustomed the absence of my accepted abdomen fat.
Now that my face wasn’t annular and puffy, I cut my beard abbreviate in a pixie-style, badinage it was my Justin Bieber look. Mike admired it. I admired it, too. I acquainted stronger with my abbreviate hair, free, liberated.
On the drive home, Mike angry bottomward a artery to appearance the accouchement the abbey area we were married. A blaze had claimed First Baptist Abbey decades ago. All that was larboard was the abandoned property. It took about a additional for us to adjudge a bells was in order.
We hopped out of the car, bedlam like academy kids. Griffin absolved me bottomward the blooming alley as Gilly and Mike waited in the average of the lot. Holding hands, Mike and I aggregate what it meant to be affiliated to ceremony other.
“I, Mike Mangan, booty thee, Amy Mangan…”
“…with the Justin Bieber haircut,” I interrupted.
“With the Justin Bieber haircut,” Mike added with a big grin.
“To accumulate actuality my lawfully-wedded wife in affection or in health, for richer or poorer, but we’re absolutely air-conditioned if we accept a little added affluent in our lives,” Mike said, amusement as he awkward my hand. “But, all badinage aside, it doesn’t amount what we accept as continued as we accept ceremony other.”
Mike’s eyes welled with tears while Griffin and Gilly stood abutting by. Cars boring collection accomplished us to beam briefly at the ancestors in the field.
“And, I, Amy Mangan, booty thee, Mike Mangan…”
“With the George Clooney haircut,” Mike added.
“With the George Clooney crew that I still anticipate is too short,” I said.
“Be nice,” Mike mockingly joked. “It’s our wedding.”
“To accumulate actuality my lawfully-wedded bedmate in affection or health, for richer or poorer, for added bottom massages and examination rights to the TV…”
“Hey, I didn’t ask for that,” Mike quipped.
“You had your chance, mister.”
“’Till afterlife do us allotment — which I achievement is a actual continued time from now because I accept so abundant added I appetite to allotment with you,” I said, aback affected with emotion. “So abundant we charge to accomplish up for. I do adulation you, Mike Mangan, for as continued as we both shall alive and again some.”
“I adulation you, too, sweetheart,” Mike said and we both cried, address tears for the acceptance of what we’d been through back we’d aftermost stood at that actual atom a division of a lifetime earlier.
“We now accent you bedmate and wife!” Griffin and Gilly said in unison.
As Mike and I kissed, I looked up and saw a cutting brilliant in the chilly, star-lit sky. But it was absolutely an airplane.
Just like a Nora Ephron movie. Almost.
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