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I grew up in a preppy enclave of Delaware, where I was the short, wisecracking girl who was neither popular nor unpopular; who pretended to be dumber and richer than she was; who did not speak up when her friends made racist and sexist jokes; who believed that one day, if she kept adopting the customs and attire of the lock-jawed tribe she lived among, she would be seen as normal and everyone would like her.(And then she'd marry David Bowie and ride unicorns bareback in a cloud palace.) I wish I could say that caring too much about others' opinions vanished as soon as I grew up, but long after I'd left the deb balls and lacrosse fields of my youth, those anxieties still gnawed at me.Remember when you were little and you felt like you might explode because you had so many questions? Was it when we became busy, distracted, overwhelmed grown-ups, feigning expertise, acting like we know everything all the time? And that all knowledge exists precisely because people have, persistently and for centuries, asked tons and tons of questions? How did we lose touch with that desire to ask, ask, ask? Did we miss the part where Socrates, who supposedly said, "I know that I know nothing," developed an entire method of figuring out stuff based entirely on inquiry?But there's a sense of rightness, of having landed where you're supposed to be. She felt calm and confident enough just to let things play out.For most of us, though, that certainty is hard to come by. Circumstances conspire to challenge our core relationships. Similarly, a married friend says his dating years always felt like a struggle; that his instincts often turned out to be wrong.But it's that last something—that sense of deep partnership in the best and worst times—that makes me know I'm with the right person; that makes me sure this marriage is, in every sense of the word, bashert.
His marriage involves work, of course, but now the work feels like swimming with the current instead of struggling upstream.
And in the end, who cares about being anything else?
—Elissa Schappell, the author of the story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls (Simon & Schuster). The meaning is something like "intended": the person who was meant for you.
In our marriage, we feel the sense of calm my sister describes; we feel, too, the relief of swimming with the current, the joys of small things.
We watch movies in holey sweaters and old socks, and when we fight, we don our Groucho glasses and get through it.