14 January 2012

Genesis 2:18

Many married men appear able to tell you precisely the moment and circumstances of their proposal of marriage to the woman who eventually became their wives.  I cannot.

It is embarrassing to reflect on the shallowness of motivation of many of my decisions in life.  One might have thought that, having failed in one marriage - entered into with almost no deliberation - I would be a bit more circumspect about a second.

We went to the Creedence concert.  Not long afterwards we went to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  Somewhere between the two concerts - both of which, I think, we attended in November, 1969 - I had told Susan that we would get married.

I suppose one reason I don't remember proposing to Susan is that I never did.  Rather, I think, I precisely told her that we would get married.  This, I imagine, might sound romantically forceful.  It was forceful enough, but I do not think it is likely to qualify as romantic.  I blush, now, to think of the fact - and to reflect on the many times during our relationship that my bull-in-a-china-shop approach to things has been hurtful, sometimes damaging.  It is not surprising that only yesterday, as I began to sketch out this post in my mind, did it occur to me to wonder what Susan's inner feelings and thoughts might have been at the time, in reaction to my brutality.  Perhaps she may be persuaded to comment here:

This is Susan again!  As young people we are confident and we need to be.  All things seem possible.  We see the "future" with a clear eye and it all seems to be attainable.  I remember a Snoopy cartoon/poster  in which Lucy or Snoopy says, "How can we fail, when we are so sincere?"

That about summed it up for me - I would just be able to make my mind up, with good intentions, and things would work out. The problem, though, was that I didn't know much about real sincerity.   I had grown up in a family that loved me but I had also witnessed years of unhappiness that finally ended with my parents divorcing.  This had a major effect on me and how I saw things and so I was very wary of any kind of commitment to a long term relationship.  I was flattered that John was interested in me but I was also wanting to see how things would go after I knew him longer.
I had had to take care of myself for quite awhile.  I was definitely in the business of trying to make sure that I was being careful. 

I do not think that Susan said anything like 'yes' or 'all right' in response to my 'proposal.'  She seems to have received it with incredulity.  Nevertheless, over the course of the next few weeks, I took, I suppose, her failure to say 'no' as acquiescence.

Sue continued to live in her flat around Diamond Head, and I in mine in Young Street, but we became a couple.  I pressed her, at this time, to move in with me, but she would not.  The ostensible reason was that her mother and sister were to come to Honolulu in December, around Christmas time.  I myself thought this an inadequate excuse.  What difference did it make where we lived?  This was, I more or less said, some sort of middle-class prejudice.  Nevertheless, she insisted, and stayed where she was.

Virginia (Sue's mother) and Candace (her sister) arrived - when?  Before Christmas?  After?  I don't know.  But when they came, I discovered something about Susan's sister that I hadn't known - something that was, to me, almost bizarre: Candace was a Christian.

No comments: