I became affianced last week. There are many fantastic things about this, oh yes, precious. People know that, and they keep saying things like this:
“Oh, you must be walking on air!”
“Oh, you must be over the moon!”
“Oh, you must be just ecstatic!”
Well, to the first, thank you, thank you very much; I am rather to be congratulated, as it happens. The others, though, do cause me to feel somewhat awkward. I usually respond with a nod and a giddy giggle or grin, looking down at my truly lovely ring.
But while I am very pleased, I am not, by my own standards, “walking on air,” “over the moon,” “ecstatic,” or even as giddy as the giggle I give people because they’re expecting it. The reason I’m uncomfortable with this is… well, it really feels like I ought to be. Right? I thought, shouldn’t I be all of those things? I know I’m capable of it. But excepting the day on which the question was popped, I really haven’t been.
“Walking on air” is every time I remember The Day of the Doctor. “Over the Moon” is when I think of what an awesome and hysterical pair BBC’s John and Sherlock make. “Ecstatic” is when the phone rings and it sounds like the TARDIS engine whooshing.
Those–those feelings are for my obsessions. I’m not planning on marrying my obsessions. If David Tennant… no, let’s make it even crazier. If the Tenth Doctor had showed up out of the blue last Friday, cut in line, and for whatever reason, dropped to a knee and asked me to marry him, my mind would have been blown and I would have felt shockingly honored and I would have given him an enormous hug and said no! No! Of course not!
(But can my lad and I be your companions even so? You take affianced couples sometimes, right?)
To be perfectly honest, I might secretly spend some time kicking myself for making the wise choice, but in the end, it would be just that: the only wise choice. Because the thing about obsessions is, they fade. They morph. They’re replaced, in time, by something seemingly bigger and brighter that eclipses them–even if you can’t imagine it before the fact. Holmes and Watson are already beginning to edge in on my adoration for the Doctor, and I would have sworn that would be impossible. In five years, I wince to admit, Doctor Who and Sherlock will be things I still geek out about every now and again, sure, but they probably won’t occupy the same space in my mind, heart, and life.
I would never believe it, except that I’ve seen it happen. Because it was Redwall, then it was Artemis Fowl and especially Butler, then it was A Series of Unfortunate Events, then it was everything by Tamora Pierce, then it was Harry Potter and especially Snape, then it was fencing, then it was Sword of Truth, then it was the works and characters of Danielle E. Shipley, and then, and then, and so on. Now when I think of these things, they still bring a smile to my face, and I’m still happy to talk about them, even maybe wear their paraphernalia sometimes. But they are not what they were to me, once. As Pippin says at the end of his heart wrenching song, “All shall fade… all shall… fade…”
But there’s a ring on my finger that calls for a faith to be kept, a faith not fading. It doesn’t call for me to be walking on air over the moon in a cloud of ecstasy–though it would be fine if I were, it is also, I think, well that I am not. The ring means many things; Bambi-like twitterpatedness is not one of the things that it means.
It’s a brilliantly lovely claddagh ring, very traditional and very Irish. A crown for loyalty, a heart for love, and hands for friendship. That’s what my lad meant he was giving me, when he slid it on my finger, and that’s what I mean to give back.
Loyalty, love, and friendship. Am I wrong to be less than over-the-moon over this? Should I feel guilty that my man is not my obsession? No. Because I am stepping out onto a greater thing than a cloud of happiness. I am making a commitment to a far truer connection than obsession.
This ring is a vow to avow–is, to my mind, the backwards echo in time of an oath to be taken in future. To me, the very weight of such intent tinges the very idea with a sort of sacred solemnity. And I have no quarrel with solemnity! It is certainly no lesser of a sense than is giddiness, and can even be greater. And if it’s an echo of a sacrament; well! So much more to the good. Seriousness and solemnity does not preclude joy; rather it enriches it. But it does lend a certain quietude to the matter.
But people do not want to hear, “Oh, I am so solemnly pleased,” so I play up the “pleased” lest they think something wrong, and simply grin and laugh. And thinking on that, it does not seem to me to be right. So henceforth, I will be honest with people: I am not giddy. I am deeply, truly glad. But I’m not going to react as I react to my every passing obsession, for this is not a passing obsession.
My emotions, probably to the disappointment of some, will not shine as sparkly and bright as the gold and emerald on my hand. But as it is written in the great tomes of Lord of the Rings, all that is gold does not glitter. And with that sudden inspiration, I conclude:
All that is glad does not giggle.
True love doesn’t always wear gloss.
A heart seeming of stone stands a riddle;
Plainly graven but sloughing all moss.
‘Tis an alter where fire may be woken;
A cistern God’s touch turns to spring;
With a love so much more than emotion,
It is crowned and held fast by the King.