Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The passing of time

I have 74 days left of my single independent life. As I recover from my operation and carry out our usual spring cleaning I shall pack away my girlhood with my winter jumpers, to be opened again as memories some time in the future. When I go to bed on the night before the wedding I shall hang up 'girlfriend' in my wardrobe and re-emerge after the honeymoon in an outfit labeled 'wife'.

Same Rachel. Different label. Or will I? With the passing of time and the ticking off important milestones along the way, surely our identity evolves? I am clearly not the same person that I was at 18, a new-born-deer of an adult, with shaky legs, a passion for rock music and a determinism to find myself at university. Or the confident graduate who emerged three years later with a BA, a ticket to a London Law School and who thought getting a job would be as easy as getting into university. Or the slightly more jaded 23 year old who graduated from law school, having gone from comfortably towards the top of her class to the-only-one-who-didn't-get-an-Oxbridge-first.

Our wedding day will be my first milestone, aside from my first period and the day I lost my virginity, that is about me, not my career or education. I can remember the latter well, thankfully, yet barely the former. What I do remember is feeling older, like I had reached a new stage of life. Which, I suppose I had. I don't remember particularly questioning my identity then, like I do now, although I suppose at 13 and 18 life is all about questioning one's identity, so perhaps the thoughts didn't really stand out.

I certainly didn't worry then about life passing me by, that in all the worrying about growing old I wasn't pausing to enjoy the journey itself. Growing old worries me now; not the aging per se (although I am certainly aware that time is not kind, even to skinny minnies like myself) but that I have lived over a quarter of my life. And all I have achieved are academic and career related goals. 2 degrees. Qualified Solicitor. Achievements certainly, but not something I will look back on fondly in the twilight of my life. Or maybe I will. Be glad that I used my freedom from ties and responsibilities to gain a good education. I don't know. That is my confusion.

I am used defining myself but I have never before defined myself as 'wife'. Obviously. But 'wife' is something my mother is. Will I become my Mother? Or will that only happen if we have children ourselves? And Mrs B. is M's mother. And yet, in 74 days, it will also be me. The new generation of Bs. I will have to carve out my own role, my own definition. And so will M. Together.

9 comments:

Marie said...

I don't think I have ever thought about this. Is that bad? Hmm perhaps I should.

But I agree it is a big step to get married and to be a wife. Partly because some people will see you as a wife and will behave differently and partly because you may feel some wifely obligations. I know I do sometimes. And the level of expectation as well, will J be with you at Easter, when are you visiting parents, etc etc

But I think you and M sound so well matched that the change will only be a good one. And like you said he will be working with you too. And hopefully working at becoming a husband :) I wonder how that feels... Or if it does feel different at all?

Oh now you've got me thinking!! Thanks. x

Kristy said...

I've been thinking about that, too. It's weird to me to think about becoming Mrs J, because that's DJ's mother - not me. Though in 6 (!!!) months it will be me. I'm not sure how I feel about that just yet, but I am sure I want to marry DJ. I'll get there, though. Right?

Rosalie said...

I know exactly what you mean, I don't feel like my academic/work acheivements really defined me the same way as the relationships/personal things do. They never brought on the thoughts about my identity. I've been married before, it's very strange to get to be "wife" and then go back from it as well. This time I'm taking his name too and that is a strange feeling becoming Mrs M. Very strange!

Cate Subrosa said...

Lovely post. I especially liked the bit about periods and virginity... made me realise why marriage and pregnancy feel so different to all the other stuff... they're more us, not our success.

Ooh you might just have inspired a post... off to try for a little writing session!

Marie-Ève said...

Great thoughtful post...

Peonies and Polaroids said...

What a beautiful post Rachel, the words haven't deserted you altogether.

Marriage didn't make me question my identity. Neither did my first period or having sex for the first time. In fact illness and its consequences are the only things that have had that effect on me. Maybe I'm not thinking about the other stuff enough!

east side bride said...

don't worry lady. wife doesn't have to be anything you don't want it to be!

un-bride said...

This is fab. So's your comment today (yesterday for you?) on A Practical Wedding. Consider me hooked.

Rachel said...

Or, perhaps I'm thinking too much, and like everything else, when it happens will feel competely natural...