Friday, December 26, 2008

Arranged Marriages: A Blind Box Success or Wool Over Your Eyes

You never know who you're going to meet, and where.

In the middle of the Grand Canyon, we finally finished bopping over Class II rapids before settling in to a warm fire, an Indian guy with a reservoir of memorized jokes and a cot with nothing over it but the stars. Earlier in the trip we were introduced to our companions and smiled out of appreciation for a common purpose....we each wanted to ride the Colorado River. After taking pictures dunking one another in muddy brown water to cool off, we got a little more comfortable and a lot more personal.

Out of the 6 couples on the boat (my father and I exclusively seeing each other), two of the couples were Indian. They had brought along with them a bond we knew nothing about even after we asked them how long they'd been married. Like the layers of rock around us and the carved out story its waters continue to write, these people too had a tradition that's flowed sacred and true through the veins of the ones they've loved before them. After doing the math on the years in which they'd been married and how old they actually were, we got right down to the arrangements made by their parents. At a young age he told us, they mix you amongst those kids that are within your societal class or caste, and you literally pick who you would like to meet or be friends with and you're introduced to them. He said families often will pick for you if they've already had a family in mind that they'd like their child to be associated with for the rest of their life. Although it's pretty simple, the families often know each other and court one another during the process, making most of the decisions beyond the initial union. I believe things these days have changed and the time for dating has come into play a bit, but only for a short amount of time before the families push hard for a decision. I can picture a middle school dance with my peers all around me drinking kool-aid and eating Italian subs and Oreos, except we're unaware that our wife or husband is across the hardwood gym floor. Could the decision be that easy, for eternity?

Who are we to know.....our country has a divorce rate right around 50% for new marriages. When we say "I do" we know in the sleeve of our tux we have a Joker stashed just in case. If we ever want to leave and wipe our brows clean of the difficult, no one's going to ostracize us.... especially not our families. But whatever happened to the love then that you thought you had? You got weary of fucking the same person? You met a nice new girl at work that looks prime? You resent not having a bigger house or better car so therefore your marriage must be a failure? People please.....if you don't think there's always going to be someone with more, or someone prettier than what you have, you're an idiot. Relationships aren't easy, and if they were, everyone would be in them. You either sacrifice your immaturity and realize too that the person sharing your life also gave up their anxious options of sleeping with the next best offer....and appreciate that you're setting in stone the groundwork and foundation for a child's upbringing. In India, the divorce rate is around 2%!! So much for needing to fall head over heels or date just enough people to know exactly who you may like best....or finally feel fulfilled that you had enough sex partners to justify a comfort for having enjoyed yourself while young, and now you can settle down. These people never had those options and yet they're more successful?

As I research this I keep seeing the idea of 'growing' in love with one another versus 'falling.' They think they grow, while we inadequately fall. God damnit, let's fucking prove them wrong. I think that reasoning is a bullshit excuse for success in those countries with arranged marriages, such as Iraq, Iran, Japan, India and Afghanistan. We should have a ridiculously better shot at success considering we get to do both. First we "fall" after finding the right person. Getting to live that amazing infatuation stage where public displays of affection and giddy reasons to grab some one's waist are priceless...and then "growing" through the many layers of depth, the days of sickness or fights that wrench ones normal reaction to walk away into a tighter more compromising grip, that any arranged marriage might drill you disinterestedly through. I think we all want the excitement in the roller coaster ride we take. We want the creeping anticipation and the building up towards the big plunge. We want the upside down loops to challenge us and change our perception of the world. The corkscrews, twists and turns leaning harder on and by each other's side. I think we're lucky our ride is different, in fact I love our ride. It contains what anyone should want the most, what we deserve the most....and that's the butterflies.......when the track "falls" out from below you and you're suspended but for a moment in a neck hair tingling sensation that reveals the peculiarity of our position. The risk in one's own choice and the clarity that it is in fact theirs. We've earned the right to feel our gut. And if those opportunities to "fall", if they're going to be misconstrued, damned and relegated to picking a suitor from a lineup...then I choose butterflies...I choose falling.

By your family making it be.......doesn't mean you'll really ever know it was meant to....

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