Tuesday, June 29, 2010

replenishing

When we got married, David and I put together a little bundle of items that symbolized different things about our relationship--an object to represent our individual self, something to show what we have to offer the relationship, a symbol of us as a couple, and a symbol of what we need to keep for ourselves.  We shared these items with our friends at the ceremony, explaining each item as we tucked it into a small piece of cloth that we call our wedding bundle. 

We take this bundle out every so often, at the very least on our anniversary, and see if we can remember what all the things symbolize.  It's funny because we never thought it would be as difficult as it sometimes is, given how our interests and qualities do tend to merge and overlap.  (Was the pencil you and the crayons me, or was it the other way around?)  Sometimes we think about things we might put in today, whether they might be different now that we are older and busier and if not wiser then at least more experienced.  And we always take a minute to dab on a bit of D's special cologne that he put in.

So one of the items that I put in was this little jar of water from the Clackamas River, where we were married.  It was meant to symbolize our relationship, and I remember writing up a whole list of metaphorical reasons--our love of nature and traveling, the way it seeks balance and figures out the path of least resistance no matter the terrain, even the cohesion of the very water molecules was a comment on how D. and I would surely stick together.  But the biggest reason that I chose water as a symbol of our relationship was that, like a marriage, keeping a jar of water for any length of time was going to take a little attention--a little work.  It's not like you can just get married and then you're good.  The water disappears if you don't replenish it from time to time.

Well, if you look at the photo of our little jar, you can see there's hardly any left.  Did we forget about it, tucked away in the bundle?  Did we stop caring about replenishing the jar?  Well.  Not...exactly.  I admit, we could have done a much better job of refilling our little jar, but I also have to admit that a big part of that (for me, anyway) was a sort of sentimentality about the actual water.  Aw, look!  It's our little bit of Oregon!  Remember how beautiful that day was?  Remember the rain, the way the beeswax candles held up?  Remember how we scattered the leaves and the wine in the river, and how my maid of honor almost fell in retrieving the lost shoe of our minister?  It's not that we were neglecting our jar, but rather that we were holding onto the memories...maybe to the past?

Marriages change.  We have a very different life today than the one we went home to after our ceremony in the Mount Hood National Forest.  It's better and worse; it's richer and...well, no, it's richer--in so many ways. 

Anyway, we finally did it.  We went out and replenished our wedding jar, adding the cold, fresh water of Lake Superior to the lingering drops of Clackamas.  We got our feet wet (and most of our legs, to be honest) in the process, and we had a good laugh and a few shivers (it was freezing!) and then we came home and tucked our full jar back in the bundle and talked about how much things have changed and how much we've stayed the same.  And we whispered our hopes for what our marriage may look like the next time we fill the jar.

13 comments:

Cat Hellisen said...

This post is amazing - what a beautiful concept - and the bit about replenishing from a new source, like admitting your life has changed and moved - wow, I was totally tearing up.

The bundle is such an awesome idea, pity it's about seven years to late for me to steal it. :D

elissa said...

it's never too late to have a connection bundle! and it's so fun to look at the items in it and reflect on whether or not we're still true to these ideals (for the most part, I think we are!)

thanks, cat! :)

Kate Hart said...

Beautiful post! My anniversary is tomorrow... now I'm pondering what I'd put in my own bundle.

andrewcarmichael said...

aww that was a really beautiful story, ngl. reading it sort of felt like I went on a mini journey of emotions.

when you and D go through the bundle and try to remember all the meanings of the items, do you have some sort of answer sheet (lol)? or do you always remember/go with the new meanings you come up with??

elissa said...

Happy Anniversary, Kate! It is a fun thing to ponder, and like I said to cat, it's never too late!

andrew, I think...well, I mean, I *know* I wrote down a script for what I was going to say, but it's on the old Mac, so I dunno. I'm pretty sure D. just said some stuff as he put his things in. He's more of an ad lib man. Lots of times we joke about it, like, okay.

So the item to represent what I offer in the marriage? It's this little rock that I remember picking up when I was three years old, and it has stuck with me ever since, even though I haven't tried to keep hold of it. It pops up from time to time in the most unexpected and surprising ways. So I said what I had to offer the marriage was spontaneous steadiness, lol. Now we joke that it means he can't get rid of me. or that I'm irritating, like a rock in his shoe. But generally we look at the things in the bundle and talk about our wedding memories and what we like about being married to each other.

Anonymous said...

Sweet beautiful Elissa, you make me cry. Thank you....

Anonymous said...

Sweet beautiful Elissa, you make me cry. Thank you....

Anonymous said...

This was so sweet Elissa, you are constantly teaching me things... Tim and I have been married 21 years now, would be neat/cool to do that now, for the next 21 years!!

Lisa H.

Jen said...

that's beautiful.

Tahereh said...

what a gorgeous story. thanks so much for sharing.

i wish you nothing but the best!!

elissa said...

Thanks, everyone! Lisa, I would totally love to hear that you and Tim made a bundle of your own!

Tahereh, thanks! and Welcome to my blog! :)

Kristan said...

Agree with everyone else: it's a super sweet gesture. That's so much more meaningful than, well, *other* things people do for their weddings.

Anonymous said...

I just had a thought... Tim and I could do an "Empty Nest" one :-)
I will keep you posted!

Lisa H.