--by Mike Murray
It hardly seems possible that twenty years have passed. But calendars don't lie. Neither does my shaving mirror. Peering into it each morning, I feel like the character portrayed by William Shatner in the movie Miss Congeniality, who similarly wondered: "Who's that old man wearing my pajamas?"
Okay, so I'm not as old as Shatner's character was. And I don't wear pajamas. But you know what I mean. Time marches on. And it leaves a record of its progression on each of us.
The two decades that have elapsed since the summer of 1985 (when Pam and I were wed in Baldwin-Wallace College's chapel, and when we held our reception on the lawn of Marting Hall) have positively flown by. Where have all the years gone?
So many things have transpired. So many changes (some celebrated, some endured) have shaped the course of my life. But one thing has remained constant: From the moment I first laid eyes on Pam, I knew. I knew that she was the one -- the only one -- for me.
Sure, I'd experienced the exquisite sensations attendant to infatuation numerous times before. As a kid, Cupid made a habit of zinging me at the mere sight of little cuties. My academic performance sometimes suffered when a pretty face was situated between the teacher's place at the head of the class and my assigned seat.
Likewise, chalk boards placed a poor second when competing for my attention with the baby blues (or deep browns) of Nancy, Juanita, et al. And when I moved on to Junior High and viewed those hotties in mini-skirts, well...
Later on, I experienced the pleasures and pains of mature attraction. I married the object of one such affection. That marriage was good. And it was bad, too (duh, it ended in divorce). It "failed," in that it didn't last the lifetime of its intent. But there are parts of it that yielded fond memories long after its demise.
Still, nothing in my previous experience prepared me for Pam.
I'd heard of the concept of "love at first sight," of course. But right up until the moment when I first saw Pam, it was foreign to me. I really didn't know what to make of it. Pam's arrival bathed me, once again, in the gaga glow of youthful infatuation. But with a twist.
These sensations were different. They were more powerful, more irresistible than ones past. They were rooted in more than physical attraction, as my earlier-life ones had primarily been. It's not that I didn't find Pam attractive -- I did. (She was a vision in her faded jeans.)
And, though I've never been a skirt-chaser, I have always been fully appreciative of the female face and form. For me, the presence of feminine beauty is one of the many proofs that God exists. And that He (or She, or It ...or Whatever) loves us -- the generous sprinkling of female loveliness in the world making life ever-so-much-more worth living.
So, sure, I was struck by Pam's physical allure. That was part of it. But only part. Heck, I'd served a tour in the Army; I'd been a few places. I'd encountered many beautiful women, creatures possessed of all manner of appealing attributes. I'd had several romantic relationships. I'd even been married once.
But Pam's immediate impact on me was different than any other female's had been. From very early on, I had this feeling that I would spend the rest of my life with her. At least, that I would spend it with her if I were given the chance.
So I pursued her. I courted her. And I eventually persuaded her to marry me. (She wasn't as convinced as I was from the get-go that we were "made for each other." Those of you who know me well, stop that snickering!)
An old Orleans hit song -- Still the One -- accurately sums up my feelings for Pam. "...[She's] still the one who can scratch my itch / [She's] still the one and I wouldn't switch..."
It's not that I don't notice other women. It's not that I don't find them amusing, interesting, appealing even. I do. Considered one at a time, I find most females charming. (Although what they morph into when they group into gaggles mystifies me.)
Despite my general fascination with the gentler gender, however, it is much with me as it was with the lead character in the movie Big Fish. For me, "There are only two women in the world: [my wife] and everyone else." It's not that I don't find other women attractive. It's just that I don't find them anywhere-near attractive enough to separate me from Pam.
As I look back on the last twenty years -- and ahead to a few more -- I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to experience such an intense relationship. But don't get me wrong. It hasn't been all hearts and flowers.
The upside of intensity is really high highs. The downside is really low lows. Most know it well: the more we care for someone, the more he or she is capable of wounding us. The folks who operate on the periphery of our existences are nearly inconsequential; their slings and arrows amount to little more than the buzzing of gnats.
But those truly significant others, well, they're another matter altogether. Pam has been closely connected to many of the happiest moments of my life; she's also been integral to many of the most difficult. No one is more capable of fulfilling me. But neither is anyone more capable of irritating, frustrating, and disappointing me.
That's the price of admission into loving relationships. The objects of our deepest affection periodically cause us grief. When they slight us, when they betray us in ways large and small, they hit us where we live.
And when we are deprived of their presence, we suffer. No depressions are as deep as the ones brought on by lengthy -- sometimes permanent -- separations from those we care most about.
Given the choice of opting out of the difficulty that "goes with the territory" of a really close relationship, though -- or of willingly choosing to participate in one, accepting both the good and the bad, I say: Give me the highs. Give me the lows. And give me many more years of them, please.
On this 20th anniversary of our wedding, Pam is still the one for me. I reckon that she always will be.
Copyright ©2005 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.