Did you ever stop to think about what that means? I mean this bit:
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Something old is about continuity. I'll come back to that. Something new is about optimism which makes perfect sense. Something borrowed is happiness. Borrowed happiness? Then I suppose you might want to be selective about what and from whom you borrow. Something blue. Right. Purity, love, and fidelity. I suppose we can strike the first from the list because it's archaic and I've nothing to replace it with metaphorically or otherwise and you'd think the entire quatrain ought to be applied symmetrically these days (that is a quatrain, right? I'm reading it that way).
I'm thinking about this because while I'm not particularly old fashioned I am wound up in ritual despite having pulled out the parts which work for me and redefined, or piecemealed the definitions until they suit and wind smoothly with the grain of who I am. I would not, for instance add the last piece of this thing which is mostly never used, 'and a sixpence in your shoe' representing prosperity but reeking of a dowery and that shit won't fly.
Continuity I always understood. When I was married the first time the old and the borrowed were the same thing. I wore a string of pearls belonging to my paternal aunt. Borrowed happiness? I can't say. That thought never occurred to me because the something borrowed made about as much sense as jumping over a broomstick until that was explained. But I get it about continuity and like my oldest daughter I gather all things from the past as close to myself and my home as I can get them, ready to redistribute, jettisoning the pieces and parts to the next generation when they are wanted and needed which is different than Lucia's desire for the rocking horses simply because I didn't recognize the continuity since they originated with me. That she will wear her great grandmother's engagement ring is astonishing; that she knew her great grandmother well enough for this to be significantly more relevant than the receipt of a family artifact renders the heart momentarily still. There is continuity in the wedding band but it's hidden for the most part. The ring was purchased as a protective device, to shelter in addition to complete. I didn't really imagine I'd wear the pair in a fourth marriage but I did expect they'd be worn by someone as a set. That worn as a set part was a vague sort of wish cast into the ether and forgotten except for the occasional run-in while rifling through the jewelry box. At one point I considered trying to wear the set on my right hand, bucking tradition because I wanted my grandmother's ring and the white gold band inset with tiny diamonds is beautiful but drew the line at resizing it because I didn't want to have to do it twice.
Why does blue indicate purity, love, and fidelity? Google turns up the Virgin Mary dressed in blue. Well now we've brought Christianity into it and most likely Catholicism. Don't really want that but who am I to cast it from my daughter's wedding? I look at this and try to figure out what I can draw from the original that might still work. I've already cast aside purity as part of patriarchal nightmare which has no redeeming value but love and fidelity are enormous with or without the church. Better yet they should stand entirely on their own without benefit of any governing body because if you can't hold those two things up of your own free will for all the right reasons the rest may very well come crashing down on your head. We could throw a whole bunch of other words in there too but I'll stick with love and fidelity and the word blue can be water and sky. See what I did there? I can go old school too and roll Mary back to the Wiccan goddess Brigid or Brigit and you've got yourself some fertility as well as the sun. She is not, however, associated with the color blue. Probably not associated with love or fidelity either but we can work with it.
Something borrowed. I never thought of it as borrowed happiness. I'm not sure what I thought. How do you borrow happiness? Is it contagious? Is the happiness something you have to give back with the object or do you have some left over when you return the object or are you left with an empty hole? I'm sure that's not what's meant. I don't honestly remember borrowing anything other than those pearls and I have two additional weddings from which to draw memories. Maybe I just stopped doing it.
Happiness is not a constant. This is what worries me about the borrowed. We have it that happiness is a state of being, as in a state of nirvana which we should strive to meet and then ride on that plane for the rest of our lives as in, 'they lived happily ever after'. I am watching and listening to my daughter happily muck about in the pond called a fairy tale wedding, a traditional proposal, and an of course I'm going to do that name change. I have a knee jerk reaction, of course I do; I've been there and come back to tell about it. Don't do it, I want to tell her. Do NOT bet on the prince. Bet on yourself. He is, by the way, a perfectly lovely young man. This has nothing to do with his suitability or lack thereof in terms of husband material. It's all about who and how we are as women. You know, I really did once tell both of my daughters, with heart in throat, not to have children. You know why, right? It's the Lysistrata story except we're not withholding sex to end a war, we're withholding the continuation of the human species to even out the playing field and end the war on women. What's the worst thing that could happen? They throw us in cages and rape becomes mandatory. I just got grim, sorry about that. So I have one daughter who wants a happily ever after fairy tale and a younger woman who shows every indication of bucking the system. That may not last but I can hope.
Happiness is not a constant. We want that happily after ever; we've been sold a bill of goods and Russel Stover, Godiva, 1-800-Flowers.com, and Hallmark along with De Beers are making a fortune on it. We want easy and we do not want to do the work even when we think we want to do the work; we don't. I think, sometimes, we don't know what that looks like. We don't want to hang around when it gets hard or old or I just don't want to do this anymore. We don't want to stay when it's easier to leave. We go when we want to be happy when happy seems to be somewhere else and we say, 'what about me?' I can't really say there's anything right or wrong with this list just that the concept or grasp on happiness seems slightly skewed. Happiness happens. Sometimes and sometimes more than other times. In all four of my primary relationships happiness happened; significant happiness. In two of my primary relationships significant unhappiness happened. I'd have stuck it out in my third marriage (at least this is what I think) but I wasn't willing to go down the well on that last one maybe because I felt so alone? Hard to say. Maybe David felt terribly alone when he left. Maybe that's what needs to happen to get through the gaps in the happiness or the ok-ness; the understanding that you're not alone. I'm just reaching around in the dark now.
Happiness is not a constant. Maybe it is in the beginning or maybe it mostly is in the beginning but I think it's wrong to include that as a cornerstone for a long term or permanent relationship because if it goes south for long enough (and for some, long enough is a relatively short period of time) everything else goes to pieces. Maybe you have to go back up to the top to continuity and give it a little more weight.
I know what I lost in all four relationships, what carried the most weight next to love was the continuity of the relationship. We had a life, he and I (insert any name) and in the leaving I experienced the loss of that life, of those years fiercely. In some cases I am still feeling the loss of those lives and may very well feel it for the rest of my life in whatever small doses it gets doled out in. I am afraid people don't put much weight on or stock in this one word. Happiness comes and goes but I wonder what would happen if we fought more for the continuity than for the happiness? I wonder if the happiness might not come back around again on it's own?
There are three things which really stand out for me. A friend once told me that she and her husband went a solid year without much speaking to each other. It was that bad. Or maybe I should say it was just that freaking hard. They came through it though. There was, there is a level of commitment that outweighs the individual want or need or pain. It's sort of like seeing the relationship as a third entity. There's me, there's you, and then there's the relationship. You get too much self-absorbedness and the whole thing comes caving in and by self-absorbedness I don't necessarily mean selfishness, I just mean getting stuck in how I feel specifically as opposed to looking at what the relationship needs. It took them a while to work it out. They worked it out. That marriage is about twenty-eight years old now or thereabouts.
I asked a friend who'd been married about twenty-five years at the time how she'd managed to do it and I was deadly serious. I think my second marriage was in the process of caving in at the time. They're still married, by the way and I guess they've hit at least the forty mark. She said it was inertia with a sly sort of smile. I asked, what?! She said that when things got hard or ugly they'd just been together so long it seemed like too much effort to start undoing it. What I gathered from this was that they did put stock, a great deal of it I believe in continuity.
I look at my father's second marriage and they were married thirty-three years ago I think. I don't have a great deal of insight but I watch them deal with the difficulties which come to the surface in a visible manner. I've never seen them turn away from each other. I don't know that they haven't, I just haven't seen it. They seem to confront head on whatever conflict or difficulty they've tripped over and sometimes it takes a while to find resolution. Sometimes resolution is only partial but I don't see them turn away.
Happiness versus continuity. I think they're tied and continuity is probably the anchor. That wraps up Old and Borrowed.
Love and fidelity go hand in hand but you have to reverse that to fidelity and love. Give your heart away. I don't, as my mother once said, mean take monogamy to the ridiculous level of having no intimate relationships with anyone else, I mean give your heart away. You give it away to one person, I mean really give it away and all other intimacies will take a back seat. There's no such thing as having a completely open heart to the entire world. You might think there is but when someone has your heart the rest of the world gets it differently. If you suddenly realize you're giving yourself differently to another person, check in to your primary relationship and have a look at what's going on. Don't lie to yourself. That's deadly. Four primary relationships. No joke. Deadly. Give yourself away and turn outward with an open heart and be a whole person - nurture the primary relationship as a separate entity as if it mattered more than anything in the world (yeah, we can say that but we're taught to believe we matter most) and I have a feeling fidelity is a given. That about covers Blue.
In all of this I have not once mentioned Something New past defining it in the third paragraph. Optimism. Without optimism you're sunk. It's that simple. It won't get you all the way home but the minute you notice it's missing you can either allow a leisurely slide into oblivion (or it can be an avalanche) or you can get your head on straight. I don't really have much more to say about that. I hear it in my daughter's words and tone. She is a product of divorce, multiple divorces really. Her mother has had three plus a failed long term which hit this family harder than expected. Her grandparents on one side are divorced and remarried (once each), her uncle is divorced and remarried. As she put it, I only intend to do this once. She was fierce in her declaration. Something new. That wedding band isn't brand new but relatively speaking it is. It was bought in a fit of optimism. I assumed it would be worn with the ring. I assumed it would be protective. I assumed it would sit on a finger permanently. I just didn't know the when or the who.
I didn't much worry about it either. Maybe that's as Optimistic as you get.
I am optimistic about many things, one of which is the destination of these two rings.