second wows by Myles alexander

Second Vows 

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When Jeremy told me he wanted to renew our vows for our twentieth anniversary, he couldn’t have imagined how conflicted I would be. Marriage, rather than the world-traversing adventure it had been billed as, had been routine, a series of unsatisfying compromises and whispered disagreements. I had been an artist once, had sketched a picture of the life I wanted for us, of a mid-sized sailboat out on the ocean, dancing on waves and sidestepping the beam of the foreground lighthouse. I craved that freedom, of pulling up anchor and setting out towards horizontal horizons. What I found, however, was that Jeremy was not a sailboat, nor was he the ocean that moved and motivated me. He wasn’t even the stubborn anchor, because even that could raise up and join the journey. When he became we, we became the lighthouse, and the waves of a life promised beat into us, eroded away the phantom foundation that had once seemed so true.

I tried to remain positive, for our twenty years had gelded me, had defaulted my once-rebellious personality to submissive. I rationalized by hoping that this party could energize a marriage that had gathered as much dust as the certificate witnessed by friends long gone and a priest long passed. I threw myself into the planning, not for him, not for us, but for myself, an effort to rediscover why I’d married this man, though I knew I would not find a satisfactory answer as to why I stayed.

I made the critical mistake of recalling our original congress of guests as a jumping-off point. Of our eighty-six attendees – mostly from bloated extended families – more than a third had croaked, and more than half of those remaining we wished had. We’d find small pockets of people that we had not shed, but within the context of the ones we had, they carried nostalgic memories of better days. Most of those friends – the art world activists of my youth and the punk guitarists of his – had children now, which explained much of their monotony. We had no excuse, as we’d held no desire for progeny, both being descendants of failed marriages. It hadn’t scared us off the coupling, since the institution was an excuse for a superfluous celebration and combined bank accounts. It had kept kids off the table, though, and I’d assumed that would make a life of travel more tenable.

My dress still fit perfectly, yet another testament to the banality of two decades. The comments of forced jealousy from friends-turned-strangers grated as I applied the first lipstick in six months. I stood outside our church’s cherry oak double doors, listening as an organ whined the bride’s processional while within, past sparsely populated pews, would be Jeremy, pristine and pressed and boring in his rented tuxedo. A sudden thought tickled, peppered goosebumps across my arms. No bride had ever abandoned her second wedding ceremony. This could be the adventure I craved.

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Myles Alexander is from Brooklyn, NY, and has been writing stories since childhood, when it passed the time better than rolling scenery and folk CDs on family road trips. He legitimized his passion when he studied at New York University for his undergrad degree, and is currently attending The Writer’s Foundry MFA. When not writing, Myles is usually playing sports, watching sports, or reading about sports. He is working on his first novel.

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