tying the knot

After a hiatus of nearly two months, I am back.  Excuses aside, I am back.  But here is my main excuse: I was working at a job which contractually forbade me from blogging about it, and I knew that I would be overwhelmingly tempted to work it into my La-la-language updates, so I decided to go cold turkey for the duration of my contract.  Lucky for you (for us, really), that contract is over and I am freshly unemployed (albeit tan and unemployed).

It’s 11:17pm right now, and truthfully, I was going to wait until tomorrow to write an update (and boy, will that one be a doozy), but I have to get something off my chest right now.  Over the past year and some, I’ve watched an alarming number of friends, peers, facebook friends, and friends and peers who I am friends with on facebook wed their one-and-onlies.  I would use the following adjectives to describe my experience: beautiful, inspiring, terrifying, and voyeuristic.

As droves of my facebook friends unironically change their marital status (stati?) to “Married to [real person],” I continue to encounter what has to be my least favorite marital euphemism.  Most recently, and in context: “i am so happy u 2 are finally tying the knot.”  My reaction to this particular turn of phrase could only be referred to as visceral: it makes me want to rip out all of the hair on my head, including my eyebrows.

And yet, up until this moment, I’ve had to work to avoid casually using it in this post.  It’s what springs to the tip of my tongue when I want to say “married” without saying “married,” but seeing it in print makes me want to vomit at best, and engage in my own iteration of an ancient Egyptian mourning ceremony at worst.

Here are the best reasons I could come up with for my seemingly irrational reaction:

  1. The old-timey sound of this particular cliché is synaesthetic.  No sooner have I read it, than am I choking on the cologne and cigar smoke emanating from the Old Boys’ Club.
  2. What’s with all the bondage imagery, anyway?  One day you’re tying the knot and the next you’re beholden to the Old Ball ‘n’ Chain.
  3. I don’t understand why we talk about the knot as if it’s something we’ve all seen… or is it precisely something that we haven’t seen?  The Platonic signifier for marriage?
  4. If that’s the case, a knot seems like a pretty menacing image (see point #2).
  5. I want to know how many pieces of rope (string? yarn?) are involved in this knot.  Two: a union of two threads (laces? ribbons?) into one?  Or is it just one: marriage is a transformation? A tangle?

As I write this list, I realize that perhaps my aversion to “tying the knot” (take that as you will) is indicative of a larger frustration with the kinds of images we use to describe major life events – or even, dare I say it, life in general.  I’m never one to turn my nose up at a good old fashioned analogy, but I wish we didn’t have to hide behind vague, figurative language when we describe important changes in our lives.  Life. Is. Not. A. Highway.  And marriage isn’t a knot.  When we’re in the midst of a crisis or a change or some other kind of experience that’s too large for us to tell whether it’s good or bad in the moment, we’re allowed to humble ourselves.  We’re allowed to say: “This is big. I don’t know what it means, but I’m excited/afraid/hopeful/curious. I’ll tell you about it later.”

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